Friday, 31 May 2013

You Weren't Invited to the Weigh-In Party

Someone asked me today whether I ever get angry any more. My immediate response was 'no'. It's my default answer because I've kind of got used to having no emotions. I don't cry although I crave release, I manufacture laughs because I'm supposed to and I'm too stifled beneath my insecurities and worries to feel anger. But then I suddenly remembered 1 thing that DOES make me angry, without fail. Here's how it happens. A family member will phone me or see me and we'll be talking just fine, normal things. Then they'll ask if my appointment went ok, I'll say yes, I always say it in a closed manner, try to change the subject because I know what's coming. It never seems to work. The inevitable follows. They then ask 'How did the weigh in go?'. Here's what I say: 'Fine'. Now here's what I WANT to say:

'And what fucking business is it of YOUR'S may I ask? Perhaps I'd love to ask you what YOU weigh but I never have because guess what- I have a grain of social awareness. I may be anorexic but I'm not a fucking Free Entry Public Exhibition! Is it something you would ask anyone else huh? 'hey, how are you? Work going ok? And yeah have you gained or lost weight this week??' Well I severely doubt it. So how about you nose OUT and grow a little sensitivity'

Now, I'm not sure how that would go down, but every time this happens I think I'm getting closer and closer to finding out because my tolerance is just about shot through.

I am quite aware that they wouldn't ask anyone else this. The reason I am posting this is because I'm so sick of the fact that people feel because you demonstrate your emotions through shrinking yourself, they somehow have complete authority to pry and probe at the most delicate parts of you with clumsy intrusive fingers. It's amazing how understanding and sensitive some people can be about everything else and then they blow it all by doing the equivalent of 'mentioning the war' (fawlty Towers reference here, see bottom of post for explanation if baffled).

I feel like screaming at them. If they ask about my weigh in, and they ALWAYS do, and I have lost wight-then of course I don't tell them. What on earth would compel me to do so; I'm no idiot- I know it's not a good sign for someone in recovery to lose weight and I really don't want a lecture or even intrusive concern thank you very much. What exactly are they going to do? 'Talk to me'? I don't want to be 'talked' to. However well intentioned, 'talking to me about it' always becomes patronising and repetitive.

It feels a lot worse when they ask and I have gained weight. If I feel like screaming if they ask this and I have lost weight, well then I feel just about ready to combust if they ask when I have gained weight. It starts a seething torrent of fury within me. A bubbling lava of self loathing. I want to shout 'Yes I'm a fat fucker and I've gained. Of course you're happy, it's what you want. A fatter Katie who isn't a precarious starver. Fuck it, I may as well go the whole hog and get a big mac and please everyone'. I'd like to tell them quite frankly I'd like to kill myself because the numbers gone up.

Basically this is what it boils down to: I despise the fact that when you come out of hospital you get the general impression that people, mostly those in your family, have assumed some ownership of your privacy. Your secret world of starving and rituals has been unveiled. People barge boisterously into what was once your private world, like unwanted visitors who invite themselves in to your home and start knocking things over and talking too loudly and sitting in your chair. Part of you feels like balling up in a corner, tight as you can, trying to block them out as you create an even smaller private world in the darkness of your own embrace, praying they will have gone away when you peek out. The other part wants to chase them back out the door, throwing heavy objects until they run, run, run and you have your little haven back all to yourself.

Half of an eating disorder is a timid, hideaway who just wants the world to forget the world and the people in it. The other half is the raging bull who wants to drive everyone away by demonstrating their strength and autonomy. I have been both. They both get you thin just as quick. They will also both still fuck up your life just as effectively.

And It's a confusing world once you're through with fucking it up.

Fawlty Towers Ref.: 1970's Hotel Proprietor Bazil Fawlty has a booking of prestigious Germans and the one thing he must remember above all else is not to mention the war!! He ends up prancing and pleasing them and treating them impeccably but of course he soon 'mentions the war' and all goes to pot.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Marriage to Mirrors- A History of Domestic Violence Part 1(may be triggering)

This is part one of a post that is so pertinent to me I feel to do it justice I have to split it in two.

I feel the need to say that this is a naked post. There are lots of days that I can be a strong girl, I can say 'I am a girl recovering from anorexia', and 'I am ready to leave this behind'. But I am human, and I have just as many days of wanting my old body back. This blog wouldn't be what I wanted it to be if I didn't chart an equal number of both experiences. Do not judge me.

I feel the need to say I am NOT intending this to be ProAna, but some of my descriptions may be triggering for some. But I have to write it because it's like a poison I need to flush out.

The first mirrors of the day are in my house. They hold the secret reflections, the image of me that barely anyone else sees. Bare faced, sleepy and tousled, a body buried beneath folds of fleece and flannelette. I expect to see that image, so the unattractiveness is explicable and logical and does not perturb me. A little later on, still in the house, the shrouds are whipped off and in the first and perhaps most masochistic act of my day occurs in from of the full length wiggly Ikea mirror in my bedroom. I force myself to survey my bare flesh, every limb and section of torso. This is made more unpleasant if I haven't been to the loo that morning as my stomach already feels full and I expect to see it protruding more than if I have 'been'. Besides the stomach the most important bit to check is the thighs. Feet together, face straight into the mirror. Measure the gap. I want to cry every morning. I will never forget the image that used to be there, in that same mirror.

That image I miss like a dead twin. Head to toe it was a better me. A messy haired head atop a delicate, slender neck. A fragile neck, beautifully breakable. The neck sinks into the cleft of collar bones, the ends of the bones rise above the line of the shoulders making little bobbles. The upper arms are finally fully geometric as they lie against the body. No curves, straight down into the protrusion of elbows. The forearms are now bigger than the upper arm, this is the right way around for me because it is a reversal of the normal. I'm sure I used to care about the size of my breasts, now I don't care. They are barely there, they know that in the quest for the skeletal they are neither wanted or needed. The ribs are there though. A barrel, a cage. It serves no purpose outside aesthetics any more; I don't care about protecting the organs; I am told every day I am abusing them from the inside. A cage of bones cant shield them from what I am doing.

The stomach is still not good enough. It is as tight as a drum but it is not as concave as I need it. I want a stomach so shallow it throws the hips into sharp relief. The hips bones are there, little ridges, the pants are stretched between them with a gap in between, like washing pegged on a line. Now I turn, first to the side. I want to see the bulge of the pelvis at the base of my back. I used to call them my 'cow bones'. I'd only ever seen them on the backs of cows. Now I turn to see them properly. Two lumps, I run my hands over their reassuring presence. I can press and they press back, they don't move or fade like flesh would. Back to the front, now the thighs, the most important bit. I cant remember a time before a thigh-gap. It was my first goal of radical body transformation. I scorn the tiny gap that I used to be happy with. How could I be happy with that tiny space? It is much larger now, I want it to be even wider but for now it is ok. The femurs run into the gathered bulge of knees. I don't like the calves. In my first cycle of anorexia they were slender. I am a lower weight but they still aren't back to that yet. I'll keep going until they are. Maybe then I'll stop. But if that was the truth I wouldn't be anorexic. As it is I'll always be trimming bits away.

But that is the past. That twin is gone. I'd like to say 'that twin is dead'. But that is not the truth, if it were then life would be easier. It is like when someone very, very close to you goes missing. You are stuck in a torturous state of limbo. You feel all the pain of their absence as if they were dead but you cannot mourn and move on. There is a cruel grain of hope left that they will return, so you stay in the same place, waiting, waiting. Waiting to hear they are dead and gone or alive and returning, too often though there is no conclusion. You will die having spent your life looking back, not moving so they can find you if they do come back and they never have.

With anorexia you have the ability to recall your twin at any time. It takes time for them to make the journey back but eventually they arrive and you can pick up where you left off. The reason we don't call our twins back is because we know that for all our love it is an Abusive Relationship. We have times of light but there are more times of violence, hurt, insults, rage. We love each other so much we'd love each other to death. When you decide to recover you say 'I am leaving you'. You look at what you really gained by being with them. If you are honest then it is nothing that is sustainable. It seems impossible but everything that you gained from them can be found without them, it is having the bravery and faith to know that it is the truth. The separation will only get easier the more time you spend without them, the more distance you travel from them alone. There are times when the urge to turn and race back, screaming for them to return is overwhelming, the panic that they are gone forever makes you run faster. These are the times that count. If you fight and walk on, even if it is so slow you are barely moving you are winning. Walking that path may feel like walking through treacle and it can feel like it is doing nothing but exhausting you, but what it is really doing is building your muscles for the race ahead. The wonderful race towards life. The treacle will thin and eventually disappear and you will be left with muscles more powerful than anyone. If you persevere you WILL recover and you will have a strength that no one else can imagine.

Fight for this, not for thinness.

Part two coming soon!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Abercrombie and Fitch: 'We only want beautiful, skinny people to shop in our store'

Yep he (Mike jeffries A&F CEO) really had the balls to say that. Now, it's not often that things relating to body image in the media rumble me much. Yes it's demoralising to see stick thin models on the cat walk, on posters and in shop windows, when you're a 'normal' person (whatever that is!) let alone someone like me who's trying to recover from anorexia. I tell you- rehabilitating your skewed body image get's a hell of a lot harder when you are surrounded by all this shit. However, although it's not nice; it doesn't often bother me enough to write about it.

When I heard this story I was very dubious. I honestly didn't think someone who heads such a renowned brand would be so shockingly offensive when they are in such a media focal point. I feel in order to give this post validation I should transcribe Jeffries own words.

This statement appears to be in response to an accusation made against him that he was purposely excluding women of a certain size because A&F don't manufacture women's bottoms (trousers etc-not actual buttocks!) above a UK size 10. Here are some excerpts of his:

His reply to an interviewer who is asking about the big focus on sex appeal: "It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that"

Well I guess that explains the whole 'intimidating model' scene they have in their stores. Personally I find it really unappealing. Who wants to visit a store where they feel inferior to the shop assistants and I personally feel they are all looking down their perfectly proportioned noses at me all the while I'm in there. Don't get me wrong; I like an opportunity to ogle a fit guy as much as the next girl, but I don't feel comfortable browsing in a shop when they're stationed at at every rack, dazzling me with their white teeth, glossy hair and impeccable tans. Well not so much their teeth I guess because they never smile-If you're that beautiful it seems to be the rule that you have to look pissed off about it.

Jeffries explains his motives: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

I confess I am completely stumped by this statement. It is so arrogantly short sighted I can't believe he hasn't been overtly racist yet, and maybe he has- who knows; if he can get away with these statements then I wouldn't be surprised if he has been even more offensive. He is completely stereotyping and is full of skewed assumptions. I personally have found that the cool kids are the ones with deplorable attitudes and as for the 'lots of friends' part- well there's a difference between having lots of people like and admire you and then being in a circle of massively insecure kids who are all volleying for popularity in a soup of bitchiness and fake chumminess. I'd rather wear a bin bag, Mr Jeffries than wear your designer garb and be an obnoxious, self absorbed, vein 'cool kid'.

And lastly: "Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either"

Personally I think it's a sad state of affairs that people could ever be 'excited' by being simply being classed as 'skinny' enough to buy into a particular brand. I chased skinny for years, I became anorexic and went BEYOND skinny and I still wasn't satisfied, and I don't think I was ever 'excited'. It's a false horizon, girls. If gaining excitement and achievement were as simple as just getting skinny then life would be wonderful. Skinny brings you nothing in the end. Take it from the horses mouth (no pun intended!) 

As for companies that are 'in trouble'- huh!? I can think of quite a few companies who target a diverse market: Newlook- they even have their 'inspire' range for larger sizes, Next- cater for seemingly all ages and go up to large sizes as well as having a balance with a petite section, ASOS- an absolutely booming company with massive variations in sizes, ages etc. I could go on. Just like the afore mentioned school kids; you don't have to be mean and cliché to attract more people, you can be just as popular if you are wholly accepting and non-discriminatory. Being an inspirationally good person is just as powerful socially as being a mean and intimidating one is believe it or not. 

The aggravating part of this story is the fact that I know A&F won't lose out. Human psychology doesn't always bear out justice. It's clear that although Jeffries is an ugly, offensive, self assured prick he is also pretty knowledgeable about the way the public mind operates. Yes, there are going to be a large proportion of society that his exclusionary tactics alienate, but there is also a very high proportion of impressionable people who will be drawing the parallels between skinniness and desirability. Sadly I my self can identify with the latter attitude. I am angered by this state of affairs but if I could fit comfortably in A&F clothes I know a rebellious part of my mind would be very satisfied. I would feel 'approved' of. I am the sort of person who looks everywhere else for approval and assurance that 'yes I am ok', and it's all the other people like me who Jeffries will draw in. Unfortunately in our image orientated society more and more people are feeling the need to find approval from other people and other brands and companies, fewer and fewer people (I feel the need to express it seems to be largely the female) can find approval and acceptance from within themselves. 

Now to close this post I feel the need to indulge my more shallow side and point out how absurd it is that a man as BUTT UGLY as Jeffries can spout this guff about only wanting beautiful people.

Here we have the Drop Dead Gorgeous Mike Jeffries....

Now here is a veryyy skinny he'd be welcome in your clothes huh Mr J?

And yes, this woman CERTAINLY isn't beautiful and at a size 14 is 'not allowed'...

Point Made :)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Please Don't Leave Me

It came this morning. I've waited for it for so long, thought about it, worried about it, watched other people do it and I myself have been as dry as paper. I came to the brink of emotion that I've been hovering around for months and this morning I slipped over.

I finally cried. Here's the thing; I feel in some ways worse than before. Me all over really; I wait for something I think will help, pin all my hopes on it, and when I get it feel desolate and appalled because it's failed to change my life and now I'm even more desperate than before.

I can't believe how bad I feel. I mean yesterday the Homeless charity said they were pleased with me and are taking me on, I should feel happy, successful. God knows how I'd feel if they'd rejected me. Maybe I wouldn't feel anything because I'd be at the bottom of a whole loads of sleeping pills. No, I know that last statement's not true because I don't have the guts to do that. I'm too much of a failure for anything that drastic and definitive.

I suppose saying I feel 'bad' is kind of a redundant explanation. It's not an explanation at all, so I'll try and elaborate.

I think it all stemmed from when one of my friends cancelled on me. It was a fairly legitimate excuse at the time and I didn't doubt her much, but now I'm not so sure. Scratch that last bit; after hours of rumination I am now convinced that was the prelude to complete exclusion- a long way from 'not so sure'. If confess honestly about these assumptions with anyone I tend to nearly ALWAYS hastily wind up with 'but I guess I'm just being paranoid'. THAT'S SUCH A LIE! I absolutely do not think I am being paranoid. I mean think about it; if you can say 'I am being paranoid' and truly believe it, well then surely you're not actually being paranoid because you can't BE paranoid and know that is what you're being. Paranoia is a complete conviction that your beliefs, how ever ludicrous to others, are the absolute, irrevocable reality.

Just that one cancellation is enough to send me whirling off into the ether of abandonment. Since she cancelled I've come from feeling a little disappointment right through the spectrum to where I am now. And where I am now is a feeling of utter ALONENESS. I feel empty and hopeless. I am also filled with terror that this is a prelude to my life. My biggest fear is being lonely. I used to think it was a fear of being alone, but then I revised that because 'alone' is just a thing, it has no emotion attached to it; it is just a description. A tree in a field can be alone. A car in a car park can be alone. People can be alone. People can be alone and happy. I am not one of those people. I am terrified of loneliness. I don't ever want to feel that abandonment. I've been abandoned before in my life, when I was at that dangerously soft stage of development. The stage where things hit you and make holes in you that don't find until later, when you're grown up and realise you're leaking out of those punctures.

To me loneliness has so may other complications attached to it. To be lonely would demonstrate a whole host of my other failings to myself. If I feel lonely I feel I have caused it by failing to do something or BE something. It could be because I didn't make enough effort with my friends. It could be that I never met new friends because I was socially stunted. It could be because I tried to socialise but bored people so much they gave me up as a bad job. I suppose the worst would be feeling lonely and having no friends and not actually knowing why. That would be a complete curve ball, a complete loss of control and hope. There's no way forward, no way to try and repair something if you've no idea what went wrong. I think that would be the point I finally topped myself; it would seem the only logical conclusion. I would consider myself socially broken, and like a car that refuses to respond to any mechanic's expertise, I would toss myself out of circulation. Give myself up for spare parts.

Facebook has a lot to answer for. I do think it should be listed under the banner of 'self harm' sometimes. I say this in all seriousness because although I do use it in happy, normal ways, I will also turn to it in my periods of self flagellation. If I am feeling a failure and a lonely, friendless pile of mush I will log in. I will then proceed to demonstrate to myself how many comments and posts and photos other people have. It's like my brain is saying 'Just look, look at them, you massive social snail! How many comments has SHE got, yup, and how many have YOU got, 2, 1 or NONE? huh? When was the last picture YOU had taken in a nightclub....oh yeah like a DECADE ago. You might as well give up now. You're shit.' I think that's on a parallel with a blade, a blunt and rusty one at that, don't you?

I am doubly scared of these feelings of loneliness because last time they struck me in any acute, long lasting fashion, it was a precursor to a period of massive anxiety. That is a time in my life I NEVER want to go back to. I couldn't face it again, I think I'd break down. Actually no; breaking down would be the fortunate conclusion. The more terrifying prospect is that I'd carry on existing in some cruel contortion, not breaking down and losing my cognition, but having full cognition of how awful my life was getting and feeling helpless to stop the spiral.

I think I need some help.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Scales and Weigh Ins- A Hate/Hate Relationship

 I HATE BEING weighed. I despise it. I abhor it. If it were a physical thing I would spit, stamp and defecate on it.

I resent the lump of metal and rubber that's plonked in front of me every tuesday. I hate that my therapist is never organised and ends up faffing about looking up my details and dimensions only when I'm stood on those disgusting things. After all these months can't she just remember my height? I even  tell her it every week but she still has to find it in her file for some reason. Clearly anorexics must not be trusted to remember their height, I mean, after all we are constantly reminded that 'your cognition is compromised due to your poor physical state' blah blah blah.

As I wait for her to painstakingly type in my height and what not, I become acutely aware of my own enormous weight bearing down upon the scales beneath my feet. I seem to be growing heavier by the second. I feel like stones are being tied to me, pressing me down. By the time she's finally ready I'm almost positive that all this weight is going to plunge through the scales, maybe I'll even bring down the roof of the room below. She taps the final button decisively and says 'just a second'- that just a second lasts a lifetime.

Then one of two things happen. My eyes are flitting between her face and the paper over which her pen is poised, ready to scribble beneath the list of my previous weights and BMI's. Two outcomes, never three. I don't even entertain the prospect that I have maintained weight. Never. My body has a complete incapacity to just stay the same. I either go up or I go down. My weight is a metaphor for something although I've not decided what exactly. I try so hard to make myself believe every week that I have put on weight, a lot weight, that way I hope it will lessen the crushing horror if I have. It's a tactic yet to work. I still do it every week.

I'll walk you through the two scenarios. Lets start with if I have gained.

Well perversely my therapist will smile. As I see her do this I let out an internal wail. Then I sometimes watch her write it down. Sometimes I cant bear to look. By then I'm analysing exactly how she smiled. Is it a big gain smile that might have a small tinge of apprehension because a very small part of her does understand this isn't going to be good for me? Or is it a more measured smile that means I have halted the drip drip loss of a few weeks? I step off the scales, which somehow are still intact. I've not crushed them with my elephantine weight. Must be steel reinforced. My primary motive is to get my big coat back on and sink into the chair, into my shame, but I need to know the facts. What's the damage? 

I used to get fucked up by any gain, however small. Then I had what you might cause aversion therapy one week when somehow I gained 1 kg. I can't describe the feelings that tore me apart. What hurts most is the fact that I never eat more than my little plan allows. Sometimes I'll eat less, but never ever more. So when I had that gain (which felt like 3 stone) I was appalled. After the shock value, the panic does have a foundation. My biggest fear, as is most anorexics fear, is a loss of control. To gain weight without reason is a massive loss of control. The first thing that happens in my brain is a volley of 'why, why, whys?' My therapist just does not get it. I'm asking her frantically why the hell this has happened, but knowing as I do that she isn't going to have the answers. I suppose really I'm just vocalising what's in my brain, trying to get it all out like letting air out of an overfilled tyre. After that initial noisy phase I tend to lapse into silent rumination. My therapist chatters away and I retreat into my thoughts. By now I'm recalling the whole previous week, day by day, analysing what I ate. Every morsel. Firstly I see no clues, then the paranoia kicks in. There are failures everywhere. I suddenly see how sedentary I was. Why was I so lazy? This week I'll walk more again. That amaricano I had on tuesday and thursday; well now I think of it I did put in more milk than I should have done. This week it's black coffees only. And now I look back, I have drunk a lot of Pepsi Max, why didn't I keep track so I know if that pushed up my calories??.

Other people might sometimes know how distressed you get over being weighed, but what very few people understand is that the distress isn't isolated to the weigh-in alone. Nor does it even just last that day. If I have gained; the entire next week I am a control freak, constantly doubting myself, checking myself at every turn, counting and recounting, dreading the next weigh day in case it happens again. Sometimes I wonder how I'll ever get better whilst I still have to be weighed. If I am to break the cycle then is it doing me any good to be force-ably brought back to the beginning of the cycle every week by some scales and numbers? I'm not an idiot. I appreciate that to look after a recovering anorexic it seems pretty clear that you need to monitor their weight, but I do wish they could find a way to do it without causing so much anxiety to the sufferer.

So after that tirade, I need to give the other side of the coin; what happens with a loss. This will probably be shorter, don't worry!

I'll refine the whole scenario a bit. Imagine me stood there, quivering and crushing the scales. I watch her face and there's no smile. A little tip of the head, blank expression. I don't relax, instead I peer at her paper. I don't look at the weight column first, I look at the BMI. It's gone down. One day I'll explain the ludicrousness of the BMI scale; it jumps about alarmingly and sometimes seems devoid of logic. Anyway, so it's gone down. I wont dress it up to you; I'll be honest about my emotions. I feel relief. Since I've given up chasing the elusive 'maintenance' outcome, this is as close as I'll get. I relax because the week has gone to plan. I am in control. Ok it isn't great I have lost, and if it happened a few weeks in a row, yes I would get concerned. For all the relief that comes with a loss I must impress upon you that I don't chase weight loss. My stopper is the memory of the last hideous hospital experience. I never, ever want another. I am not strong enough for that. 

A lot of my hate of weigh-ins comes from my past. In the earlier periods of my eating disorder I weighed myself ritualistically, often more than twice a day. I would disappear up stairs, drag the scales out from under the bed, strip down to nothing and pray for a lower number than before. It was truly mind bending. I could look in the mirror before I hopped on the scales and sometimes I might think I looked ok; not good enough, but not too hideous. Then I'd go and do the deed and if the number had gone up I would rush back to the mirror. In the tiny space of time it had taken to walk to the scales, weigh myself and walk back the reflection had changed. It deformed itself so suddenly there were imperfections everywhere. Stubby, wide legs, untoned arms squashed against the body and a vast expanse of a shapeless stomach. A change in a digit on a piece of plastic could transform a not so terrible body into an unspeakably ugly barrel on squat legs.

It was just as dangerous when I found I'd lost weight. For the most part of the time not eating riddled me with a horrible fatigue, sapping my energy and feeling. The minute the numbers dropped I felt a spurt of energy. My mood would lift and I might even smile. Following those occasions I'd be motivated, I'd leave the dreariness behind for a bit, I'd be nice to other people, I'd joke. Unfortunately that high would soon burn out, I'd shrivel to the tired, blank, food obsessed being I was before, waiting to jump on the scales like a druggie waiting for their next hit. And like a druggie the high is never sustainable; you have to keep upping the ante. In anorexia there's no such thing as satisfaction. What is good enough yesterday is unacceptable the next. Like a singer who has a record busting success with one song or album- yes it gets everyone's attention and admiration, but now the world is watching you, waiting for your next trick- if you're going to be a true success the next release has to be just as good, if not better, than before. No anorexia is a disease of dissatisfaction.

In the end I could not face this trauma every day. By then I couldn't begin the day without a trip to the scales; I'd forgotten what it was like to have my emotions in the day ahead determined by other factors aside from my destructive morning ritual. I snapped. One day I just could not bring myself to drag the stupid things out. Without the scales I panicked, I felt out of control, I could barely dare to eat anything. I'd become so reliant on the scales to tell me how I should eat that day that I felt blind without their numbers. I can't remember how I coped, I just remember that those nasty feelings actually didn't last that long, a day or two at most. I felt like I'd escaped from an abusive relationship. I could wake up a free woman in the morning, I didn't have that platform of plastic to answer to before I made my decisions. I didn't have to ask their permission any more. They lost their power. Of course I wasn't free of problems by any means. I was still stuck in anorexia but I'd liberated myself of one element of it, and any victory, however small should be celebrated.

So imagine my absolute rage and rebellion when other people reintroduced the very thing I had spent so long trying to break free of. It was like they were shoving my right back to the abusive partner to be beaten up again. I didn't want to hear their logic. And they refused to hear mine. However, at this point I was in a position to refuse to be weighed, and I damn well did. I refused until I was very ill, by then it had become unavoidable. I harboured a half hope that I had made myself more resilient, that I wouldn't get caught up in the cycle again. But after a few occasions of weigh ins I'd visited Wilko's and left with a new set of the things I swore I'd never let near me again.

After a few more painful break ups I am domestically scale free again. One day a week I cant avoid them, and the other 6 days of the week they hover around in my mind. I struggle to see how I'll be free of anorexia whilst the professional's trying to engineer that freedom constantly corner me with weights and measures. It seems an confusing paradox. Let me know if you find the key to solving it, k?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Daunting Day Completed

If you read my last post you'll know today was a biggy for me. When my alarm went off this morning I was one big groan of protest tangled in a duvet. With much reluctance I did wrench myself into the day, and here's how it began.

The cab dropped me on the street of run down and dilapidated buildings where the Homeless Base is situated. The only business actually open on that whole street is a funeral directors. The Centre stands a few stories high with a peeling dirty façade that was perhaps once white. I always think it's arrogantly optimistic to paint a building white; you're kind of saying 'we'll be so financially successful for the whole time this building exists that we'll always be able to afford to keep it whiter than white'. The reality is within a few years they end up the sort of colour 20 year old pants become. On approaching it I saw a side door which looked promising but when I got closer there was a stiff notice indicating that entrance was for Hostel Residents only. The only other entrance were two huge double doors. The sort of doors that are so massive and obtuse that they don't look like they actually open and you just don't believe that's the only way in. I rang the door bell tentatively and a man sat on the steps in front of the building muttered about going round the back. I stammered something about just waiting here, and lingered awkwardly against the grubby wall.

After a few minutes quite a crowd had accumulated. Most of them greeted each other jocularly with smacks on the back and a ping pong of insults. Some hovered, heads lowered into collars, clutching metros around the entrance. I knew sooner or later someone would comment on my presence. The inevitable 'You work 'ere love?' came, when I explained I was here for a taster session I was annoyed to find my telephone voice emitted.  Could there be any less fitting situation for a eloquent, high voice than among these people who I was terrified of offending in case they thought I was patronising them with my posh voice. Eventually I got inside and got through the awkward part of introducing myself to about 5 different people (miraculously no one had any idea who I was- the joys of company communication!) before I got placed in the kitchen with two friendly ladies who popped me in an apron. One lady (I think she was polish) was the cook, the other, older lady was what I'd describe as a kitchen assistant.

To begin with I helped make the teas and coffees, took the varying forms of payment (cash, vouchers or tokens) and washed the mugs. I chatted away to the women putting on a confident a persona as I could, smiling lots, trying to be as helpful as possible and doing what I always do; trying and trying to be liked. Then the breakfast run began. Full english and toast, cooked and posted out the hatch at speed. I think I kept up ok. We must have served about 20 people and only 2 were women. From the hatch I didn't really see much of the dynamics of the Service Users but after about 2 hrs I went 'front of house' so to speak.

For the next hour I stood with the door man. Tattooed and bald he was friendly and showed me the forms they use to admit people, or not admit them in some cases. He told me some cheerfully shocking stories of the earlier, more lively days when violence was common and furniture and crockery were frequently used as weapons. Since he had begun working in the security guard capacity things had calmed down a lot, respect had been established between staff and Service Users, and apart from the usual turbulence, things seemed very under control. From my post I observed the main lounge. There was an array of social activities going off in different clumps. Some played cards, some slumped in easy chairs loudly exchanging banter. A few sat alone. Through some grimy windows a group of polish men sat huddled round a game of some sorts. People floated in and out of the front door, the doorman greeting them with nicknames and jokes. People ambled in and out of the dining area with mugs of steaming drinks. The atmosphere created by the mixture of group fuelled camaraderie and accepted solitude reminded me of a slightly rough, but cheerful local pub. There was a comfortable, stable feeling of familiarity. The majority were vocal and engaging but those who sat on the outside of the groups had their seclusion respected.

I left at 11am, slightly frozen and glad to be able to relax and stop smiling (really, it's quite wearing!). I got a hot, sweet cup of tea while I waited for my bus and mulled over the morning, the inevitable self-analysis had already begun in my brain. I had a bit of time at home then I dashed out again to meet my support worker for lunch. On the days when I meet her for lunch (which for me is always a ham sandwich, seriously they are coming out of my ears like meaty, bready wax) I never eat breakfast because I feel under scrutiny and therefore I feel obliged to complete everything at lunch. A hangover from in patient setting I guess. Missing breakfast makes me less stressed about eating more than I usually would at lunch, I'm not condoning it; it's just a statement of fact. I really enjoy meeting her. We've met when I've been pretty damn low and even then she has managed to cheer me up, even if it's just while she's with me, it doesn't matter, when you feel so bad any glimmer of even normality is an enormous relief. It's the last time I'll see her, she's having a baby soon. This makes me sad, I'm quite attached. I'm handed over to a new lady from now on. She's scottish but has spent most of her life living in Hong Kong. On the bright side I always worried that me and the previous lady would run out of things to talk about; well  now I can just start over with this lady. A bit like groundhog day!

So that was two things ticked off, now for the third; joy of joys being weighed. Big yay...not! I get the bus to belper to see my therapist with her ridiculous scales. It seems absurd that in this age where technology is getting tinier and more and more compact that these scales even exist any more. They are the most indiscreet piece of equipment I have ever seen. There's no concealing the fact that your off to be weighed when you're seen in the company of the enormous blue bag, usually trailing a wire or two. The screen is attached by a wire and my therapist sits in on her lap and enters my dimensions while I step on the platform of metal and rubber. I get stressed out even before I find out the figure because I can't help but focus on the circular spirit level near my feet. I have to get it exactly central.

I hate being weighed. I really hate it. All the hate I feel will fill up a whole new post (and it will probably be posted in the not too distant future). I'd put on a little bit, an amount insignificant to everyone else. For me- Crippling. It doesn't matter that it wasn't what other people would consider much at all. It doesn't matter that I'd lost the previous couple of weeks. Nothing matters except I have PUT ON. Downer for the day.

Still I scrape my shame off the floor and try to push it away and get through the rest of the session in mock positivity. When I leave I'm still carrying the shame. It sits opposite me on the bus, glaring at me. Me and my thighs. I knew they looked bigger. I feel out of control now. It makes eating more complicated; I will scrutinise everything I normally eat. Last week was easier; I'd lost so I relaxed a bit, the opposite happens this week. See why I hate being weighed now?

Big *sigh*. Fat feelings aside I have worrying about tomorrow's Trial session at the other part of the Charity tomorrow to distract me, well partially. I'll be working with disabled and mentally ill people, I'm a bit worried about how I'll find it. Will I have enough empathy? Will I connect? Most importantly, like it always is- will I be liked?

Men don't seem to worry or get stressed about much at all. Sometimes I wish I had a man's brain. Then I remember I like dresses, lipstick, men and my boobs and think it's probably better to avoid transgenderism.

Being anorexic didn't solve my problems so I doubt having my own penis will either.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Roll on Wednesday Afternoon

Today is an empty day. Tomorrow is a hideously full day. So much for happy mediums. I'll start with explaining tomorrow because it probably accounts for a lot of today's bad feeling.

Tomorrow (at 8am?!) I have my first trial session at the Homeless charity. I have another one in a different base on wednesday morning so I can't even relax when tomorrow's done with. When I applied for this, months ago, I was desperate for it to happen, to fill up my days and give me purpose. But for one reason and another this desperation has waned to a grudging obligation. There's no chance of me cancelling, I'm not that stupid. I still think that nerves are preferable to feelings of desolate, empty failure. But that doesn't mean I don't face tomorrow with a certain resentment.

Resentment may seem an odd word to describe how I feel. Resentment is usually entailed on someone hating an action or situation imposed upon them by someone or something else. But in a way this is kind of how I feel the situation is heading. Yes, when I applied I wanted it most definitely for myself. But now, the days before, I feel an increasing disassociation to the whole thing. A large part of my not cancelling is my stubborn streak that runs through me like a river. I cannot actually face telling people I wimped out because I care so much (probably far too much) about how others judge me. I want to be seen as a success in everyone else's eyes as much, if not more, than my own. I hate the fact that so much of what I do is motivated by my frenzy to please other people.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an idiot. I've always had to ability to consider the future in a reasonably untainted and honest way. I know that if I did pull out there would most defiantly be a great part of me that was hideously disappointed and resenting of myself. I don't want that. I really do not need another reason to hate myself! Although I always think it's a spiel I churn out for others, there is also a lot of truth in the statement : 'this experience I going to make be a stronger person'. To face your fears does make you stronger, but knowing this oddly doesn't really help the moment.

Oh and after my little trial I have lunch with a new support worker to think about and after that a trip to see my nurse to get weighed; my most favourite thing on the planet....sense the tone!

So yeah, the empty day today. Mum's working all day. Everything around me seems to also know it's supposed to be an empty day and has acted accordingly. The sun, which was glaring splendidly yesterday has vanished. It's gloomy and overcast out. The house is too quiet and still, absent of life. Even the cat had chosen to be elusive. I'm meeting my friend but  not until 6. I was also meeting my sister at 12 but then she rang to say she's ill and wouldn't make it. This upset me and I tried (not very hard and not very convincingly) to reassure her that 'I'd be fine, don't worry, I'll cope' blah blah. Inside I'm really thinking: 'Oh god, I've been thrown more time and I can't juggle what I've already got!' When I put the phone down I felt like the juggler who'd dropped all his batons. I looked at them lying around me, staring at me accusingly then the phone rang again. Yes, clearly my convincings had not been very convincing. I argued half heartedly that she should go back to bed and not worry, but now we're meeting as planned. I'm slightly guilty but relieved. After that I'll wander at snails pace to the location of tomorrow's trial to make sure I know where it is. After that will follow a list of inane and meaningless activities, all designed to munch up time. They'll probably be as effective at 'munching' up the time as an anorexic would be at 'munching' up a big fat chocolate cake. Sigh.

I'm restricting today as well, excuse being that I'm meeting the friend that gets exasperated at me when I order a salad. These are times when I wish I wasn't such a people pleaser. You see, I always end up restricting with the thought that I'll order something different to please her, but as any anorexic will know, even your best intentions, even in the face of such adverse situations, will flop in the face of your ED and the plain salad will mysteriously appear again. I'll compromise. I'll order a chicken salad...the chicken will end up being surreptitiously hidden beneath some left over greens.

I might post again tonight, but other wise I'll update you on the drama tomorrow -Arrivaderci!!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Someone Stole My Bones

It's getting warmer, it must be spring now, I can tell it's evening because I can hear that distinctive, gentle type of birdsong that signifies the end of the day. I am sat curled on a wicker sofa padded up with cushions. Shafts of fading sunlight cover me in yellow stripes. Opposite me the tall form of my therapist is folded forward in his pensive, almost sceptical pose that I've become so accustomed to. He wears his flat cap. I've never seen his bare head. He's never appeared without wearing the same battered pair of Crocks either.

We're talking about something deep. I've said something pertinent but as usual I have no idea what it could be. Anyway I'm about to get distracted from the whole session through the simple action that I make next. I shuffle myself about, further into the lumpy cushions, feeling the wicker beneath. I cross my arms. Inadvertently I lay a hand over my elbow. It lies there for a minute, inert. Then my fingers start to probe, idly at first, then with panic. I cant feel them. Where are they? Oh god I can't feel them! Finger tips scamper along my elbow. I'm keeping my face blank, I think, trying to disguise my distress. Where are they? They used to be so prominent, so forthcoming. Two large nobles either side of the crook of my arm, two lumps like a bolt. They're gone. My bones have gone!

Suddenly I want to be alone. I want to run my hands over my back, see if the vertebrae have disappeared too. I need to check my lower back, see what's happened to the two pelvic bones that I didn't even know I had until I got very ill. I was very proud of those ones. Ribs were boring. Anyone can suck in and see a couple of ribs. But the pelvic bones were special. Damn, I'd worked hard for them.

I should have got up then. Saved the poor guy some time, I mean I really couldn't give a fuck about how my Dad's abandonment of me as a kid had made repercussions on my adult life, what I really needed right now was to stand naked in front of a mirror and check the damage. Paramount importance. I was mentally absent for the next 45 minutes. The calming birdsong had turned into mocking laughter. The gentle evening light had become a glaring spot light shining on the huge, fat, boneless blob plonked on a sofa. A sofa that that had more of a skeleton than me.

That moment was when my relapse really started I guess, while I was still in therapy. No, I couldn't restrict there, but I relapsed in my mind; I starting devising the most effective action plan to get my bones back. I don't know if I can exactly convey the tidal wave of emotion that overcame me when I realised my bones were gone. I mean I knew I'd grown and gained weight, that was obvious, but I guess it wasn't until then that it really hit me. The emotion I felt was mourning. I had lost something that had been my closest companion for so long. Gone.

I didn't even really remember being a big body-checker. I was addicted to mirrors but I don't remember constantly feeling my bones. I didn't know that I must have done until I couldn't do it any more, then it seemed as essential as breathing. And I no longer could do it. In a way I had suffocated a part of myself; the anorexia. The problem was she cant be killed by suffocation. You're just left with that lung busting pain and the panic to boot.

It sounds stupidly obvious to say but my bones were my assurance that I was there. I could feel the rawness of my existence in them. When you're anorexic knowing that you exist is sometimes very important, you can feel so faded and ethereal that to have some prominent feature to hold is comforting. Sometimes I think that's why I look in mirrors; to make sure I'm still there. That might sound a little melodramatic but it's also the truth.

This has been an unapologetically anorexic post, I am quite aware of that. I can't be strong all the time, hell I probably spend more time being unapologetically anorexic than not, but so long as you HAVE a strong bit then you're a good way to beating the anorexic bit, but when you let the strong bit, however small it is, disappear, well that's when you've got to worry. Personally I'm deeply suspicious of permanently upbeat people.

'I want doesn't get'- bullshit!

Routines are essential to me but that doesn't mean I like the fact that they are. Indeed some days I feel as trapped as I ever did when I was in the full throws of an ED, more so in fact. I guess it's kind of a Stockholm Syndrome; I feel my routines own me and I hate them for it, yet I am unable to abandon them.

I want to be an impulsive, exciting, spur of the moment, grab-a-bull-by-the-horns life loving human. I want to  lose control and not know where the hell I'm going and feel the thrill of it. I want to go to bed at night and see the next day as a mystery, instead of scheduling every minute of it in advance to avoid any unknowns.

I want to be one of those people who gets a text or call at 1am asking me to go out and more than anything I want to be the person who says 'well yeah of COURSE I'll be there!' grab a dress, doll myself up and run out the door. Firstly I'd like to BE that kind of person so people bother to text me in the first place. 

I'm sick of being predictable. I don't want to be known and taken for granted. I want to be wild and unpredictable like a tornado. I want to have exciting stories to tell people. I want to shock people and not just with how much my bones stick out or how little I eat or how tiny my thighs are.

I want to think 'fuck it!' and dye my hair bubble gum pink. I want to walk around without my hood up and head lowered and instead hold my pink Candyfloss head high. I want to see a nice guy and give him a smile instead of a look of hopelessness. I want my eyes to shine wide with the zest of life and not be darting around like a nervous rabbit.

I don't want the people at starbucks to PREdict my order! I want to go in and order the biggest, sweetest, most decadently cream topped, syrup drizzled thing on the menu and be god damn pleased about it instead of totting up the calories in it as I wait. More than that; I want to BE the most decadently cream topped, syrup drizzled thing on the menu!

I want to laugh again, I mean really laugh; feel it bubbling in my tummy and bursting out my lips, not a forced laugh that feels like nothing. I want to bob when I walk like I'm brimming with optimism, not scurrying around like I'm trying to get out from the black cloud, or plodding along because there's nothing in my life to rush to.

Most importantly I want to feel LOVED while all this is happening. Loved by others and Loved by ME. I want to live life not dread it. 

If I find the key to all this, I SWEAR I'll let you all know!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

'I think therefore I am'....really though?

I know it's a really famous quote and all, and I do kind of get the jist but it never really sinks in beneath the surface, doesn't really resonate with me. Am I being a dummy? It's not an unfamiliar place for me to be. Anyway, this quote has been floating around my mind quite a lot recently, bobbing around the synapses when it's not buffeted with all those mundane thoughts about food and thighs and calories and all that kind of oh so important stuff that I absolutely must not let myself forget to think and worry about!!! Because it's completely logical that if I don't spend  an extravagant amount of time obsessing over all that then of course I will lose control and balloon to the size of a pregnant hippopotamus and the world will come to a standstill because I ate that extra square of chocolate... Anyway TANGENT- sorry about that!

So what I started as quite a flippant entry is going to turn quite depressing, sorry. Please stick with me though. So the dude (the rather self assured dude in my opinion) who said the above must have been pretty secure in himself in a way I can't imagine being, for him just to know he was thinking was enough to assure him he was existing. When I'm feeling happy and emotionally stable, when my thoughts aren't so frantic and aren't so hemmed in between the same familiar barriers of anxiety, I am actually able to appreciate this. Unfortunately I'm not always in that level headed, platonically contented state of mind.

As you know I don't much like being alone. I have got a lot better at tolerating it. It doesn't keep me awake at night so much or cause palpitations or send me whirling into the GP's surgery begging for pills to chill me out or knock me out (I wasn't really fussy at that point). But I still don't like it. In reality there's hardly a day I have to face completely alone. My mum works two days a week (long days from 7.30 am til 8.30) and on these days I structure my activities to minimise the time I have idle and vulnerable to thoughts that I don't want to have and I always try to meet a friend or two. If for any reason I can't meet someone I stuff my day with an itinerary full of errands and trips, sometimes inane and unnecessary, but completely necessary by lieu of the fact that they fill the time and fill up the space for grim thoughts and worries. Sometimes if people ask what I've done with my day I perform a kind of internal blush and try to disguise the fact that although I've run round like a headless chicken, travelled on about 7 buses and stayed out of the house from 9am til 6pm, I haven't really achieved much in other people's eyes. Although in my ashamed and skewed eyes; just getting one more day down is a massive achievement, one bettered only by getting to the end of a day and realising I actually enjoyed it (occasionally that does happen-shock horror! I know).

However on those days of being alone, even with my little ram-packed schedules, if I don't meet anyone I begin to feel strange and lost. Meeting people grounds me, ties me to the earth in some way. Once I am with someone or have been with someone then it's as though I can feel my feet firmly on the ground, my steps support the whole and real weight of my body. I am connected to the same world as everyone around me. After a while of being alone I feel like someone's tying helium balloons to me one by one. The longer I go being alone, the more balloons become attached, and gradually I feel the weight coming off my feet. Now people talk about feeling so light on their feet that they feel fantastically alive and vibrant; for me it is the opposite. I feel floaty and uncontrolled, trying to keep myself down and attached to the earth like everyone else. I feel like a ghost, inhabiting the places familiar to me but unable to connect to it. Ok, so maybe this sounds a little dramatic but it's the truth. I don't much like it but I accept it. I can accept it because I know it's not a permanent state of affairs, I'm never alone for very long. So when people say to me 'You always have done so well; even when you were really ill you kept your friends, most anorexics lose them' I don't say much in acknowledgement because secretly I think: if I feel so crap now with friends how royally fucked up would I be without them to keep me in the real world and not floating off into the ether of depression and unimaginable loneliness? It's not a matter of 'doing well' it's a matter of self fucking preservation.

To sum this up I guess you could say I feel I only exist when I'm with people. I don't mean in a crowd, that sometimes makes me feel more like I'm floating or drowning than anything, but among people I know. I crave to hear my name come from someone else's lips, for them to acknowledge I am there and so are they, and we connect across the sea of people who don't know me and don't care about me through the simple calling of my name. I need to be needed, otherwise I am truly nothing. I suppose that's why I want to be a mother so much. I want it because I am selfish and want to create someone and become their world like my mother was (and still is but it changes in intensity as you grow older in some ways) to me.

Wow, deep stuff, well done if your still there, you can go and get a cup of tea and lie down now! Goodnight and beware of the helium balloons!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Angelina's Mastectomy....My Lobotomy?

I have my radio on constantly. I mean constantly. I cannot sleep without it on. Radio 4, always, it has to be talking. I cannot reside in a silent house, there must be voices, even if they are detached, impersonal voices that don't know I even exist. Anyway I probably absorb a hell of a lot of information subconsciously. My brain should be a veritable soup of conflicting facts, a melting pot of politics and opinions. No wonder I'm messed up. Anyway this is getting irrelevant. The point I'm getting to is I woke up to hear the reader giving a report on Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy. It gave the story of how she'd had various medicals and genetic research and she had something like 87% chance of getting breast cancer. So she took the decision to lop them off rather than risk her life.

It was weird this story surfaced now because only yesterday me and my mother had a debate about the increasing ability to track your genetic disposition to more and more diseases and illnesses. This has largely been presented as an advantage by the media, a tool that empowers us, a means of protection, a form of self insurance. Now don't get me wrong; I think humans have become medical marvels, both in our research abilities and the treatments it now enables, and cases like Angelina Jolie's demonstrates this. But we humans seem very quick to latch onto new developments and discoveries and seem to get caught in an excited frenzy following any successes.

Take the development of Prozac for instance, only years after it's emergence into the medical domain have people realised that during this period it was perhaps overused. It seems that in the hype of its successes doctors and GP's became slightly pill happy, firing it at patients who had been in their surgery room a matter of minutes. A snap diagnosis of depression, barely investigated, solved with a wonder pill. I don't mean to be so dramatic, I've used Prozac as my first example but look at the invention of the microwave. Once it became available to consumers it was a startlingly short period of time before mothers who had competently managed to cater for families from 3 to 10+ members with ovens, hobs and grills before owning a microwave to, a few months down the line, vow never to be parted from it. A surge of recipe books solely for microwaves were published. Things that should NEVER be done in a microwave were shown to be the only way to do it. I mean there are even recipes to cook steaks in the microwave, that's never going to be nice.

Now, although I've elaborated on the negative quite a bit, I do see the large advantages of knowing your genetic disposition to physical ailments, especially if it protects your children. Now I come to my real issue; people being told about their genetic disposition to mental illness. I'm pretty much all in the court of it being a bad idea. I know a lady who has traced her family history of alzheimers and has been warned that she is classed as a higher risk candidate for the same disease. Great, so where do we go from here? I hardly see it as a case of 'for warned, for armed'. There is no concrete evidence that Alzheimers can be triggered or caused by  lifestyle choices. So her knowing doesn't mean she can go and buy a pill, take extra exercise, eat her greens and it wont happen. The reality is that this lady is subject to lapses in memory like the whole population, the difference is that now she is hyper sensitive to these lapses and even if she doesn't specifically conclude it is the onset of the disease it is certainly a grim possibility in her mind. Now we all know how fear, nervousness and general stress affects cognition. We get muddled, mix our words, sometimes forget them all together, even stumble over our own age or address; do we suddenly think we have alzheimers? Largely anyway; no. No because we've no reason to believe we should have it. The point I'm trying to demonstrate is too much knowledge can harm rather than help.

My mum had an eating disorder and I honestly cant remember if I knew about this before I developed mine, its hard to pinpoint when it went from a diet to an eating disorder for a start. But I do often wonder if did know this whether it made me more susceptible to developing it myself. I don't in any way want you to think my mum engaged in ED behaviours around me because she never ever did, but just knowing she had reacted to life's tough patches with anorexia perhaps could have given me ideas.

We don't question the validity of 'learnt behaviours' when they relate to a child consciously witnessing actions and lifestyles of their parents or those they are surrounded by. My wonder is why don't more people consider the more subtle influences on children. I'm thinking here of depression. There are countless depressed people in this world and a large percentage of the sufferers will be taking care of children. While some parents depression may be unhidden there are doubtless thousands of parents who paste a very effective veneer to hide it from everyone; especially their kids. But depression is powerful, cunning and unrelenting and try as you might, there are going to be times when you cant control or hide it. Perhaps children don't actively remember these instances but that doesn't mean it doesn't impact on them. So if you combine this scenario with the child growing to adulthood and finding out they have a genetic link to depression well then I cant help but think this makes a lot (not all people, granted, but a lot) more likely to expect depression and it become a self fulfilling prophesy. I don't know, these are just my views. I'm not aiming to convert people to my way of thinking, I'd like to make people think about it though.

So I've come full circle back to Angelina Jolie's boobs. So she can have them removed but what can I do about the cancer in my brain? I guess that's where Lobotomies came from. And personally I think it's a bloody good job they stopped. Some things humans should just not mess with; cutting out bits of peoples brains seems to be a good place to start.

Monday, 13 May 2013

This Day Is Going To Call For Chocolate

I'm not relishing today at all. I'll be glad to see it behind me. I don't cope well with nerves and unknowns, it makes me see how my routine loving, insular, self protecting (although paradoxically self destructive) behaviours started and became so engrained.

As soon as I woke up my day was kind of thrown off kilter. My mum has been called into work this afternoon. I will ritualistically plan my days ahead of them happening into the minutest detail, so a change like this really rocks my boat. It means I'll have to spend the afternoon and evening alone and although I've got better at this I still don't enjoy it one bit.  

Today starts with no breakfast because I'm too nervous to appreciate food. (one of my many foibles) Then at 10 30 I have an interview at a Homeless Charity in Derby. It's only for voluntary work but I'm taking it extremely seriously. After that I'm having a coffee with mum in town. After that I'm meeting a friend of mine who I met in the first hospital I was in. A lot of us there vowed to keep in touch but only we did. I'm happy I'm seeing her, I love her company, but every social meeting comes with strings. I get so stressed that I will bore people or that time (another one of my obsessions) will somehow be doused in metaphorical treacle and will stretch on and on, and all this time I feel pressure to be interesting, enjoyable company with initiative  conversation. I long to be someone who can meet people on the spur of the moment with no pre-prepared dialogue, no 'safety deadline' that I have to 'rush away' for so that I don't have to face the daunting scenario of boundriless nuggets of time in my day, that is to everyone else just fine, and that deadly word; normal.

I will have to face coming home to an empty house and fighting loneliness, I know I've done it countless times but by the time comes to do it again I always doubt my abilities. At 8pm I have to be in town for a friends surprise birthday meal. This is riddled with complications I'd rather not deal with. Obviously there's the food. Luckily the restaurant has an online menu and my eagle eyes took about a nano second to spot the salad section. Just a plain one for me. I'll order the chicken one to appear less weird but I'll leave it buried under a few leaves. No dressing of course. Quandary number two; I hardly know any of them. The girl whose birthday it is is one of my best friends but the rest of them I don't know from Adam (and I don't know him either). I hate the whole process of these kind of events. The fake façade I'll apply along with my make-up. A façade I have no real faith in; to me it seems so transparent. In my eyes it wont take long for people to notice I'm awkward, a fake laugher, aloof. This could all be paranoia, but the nature of paranoia means you can never say 'I'm being paranoid' and really be paranoid at the same time.

I will go. I know I'll go. Even if it means ordering a taxi which I cant really afford to eliminate the extra stress I experience from catching buses. I go because I want to say FUCK YOU ANOREXIA. I want to prove my shell can be broken and I can deny my insular, hideaway habits. The fucking anorexia bit isn't really the food, it is about breaking the routine anorexia wants me to stay in. If I do things I'm not comfortable with or are new to me then I have taken away a little bit of control from her. She wants me all to herself you see. She doesn't want you to go out and have new and, god forbid, enjoyable experiences because then you stand the chance of seeing how good life can be without her. That's her worse fear. I've always strongly felt that the most dangerous thing for an anorexic to do is to stop making a social effort. No matter how tired, how awfully fatigued and exhausted anorexia makes you, you still have to make the effort. You have to bear the bone piercing cold and get out of the house. You have to smile, you have to stop being selfish and think about other people. You have to make conversation that doesn't revolve around your problems however overwhelming they feel. Even the best of friends need to feel you're interested in them and not just what they can say about you. This doesn't mean you have to treat your anorexia as a secret, but you have to moderate it. You can't expect people to understand the complete helplessness you're experiencing unless they have, it isn't fair on them. You can expect them to listen to your problems with sympathy, offer a shoulder and support, but you have to know it's not a bottomless supply. No matter how awful your life gets, other people will continue to have theirs, and with that they will have other fish to fry. You have to appreciate that.

Anyway, I've written this post in two halves. Right now I'm sat at my laptop and its 5 40 and I really must go and have that bath I've promised myself and more importantly do the thing I'm ashamed to say I'v put off for a good month- shave my legs! They really are hideous. I mean what if someone storms little Frankies while I'm there and demands we strip!? Perfectly plausible I know. Well I wouldn't want to be stark naked AND have legs the Forestry Protection Agency would be proud of. Slightly more note worthy; I've had my interview. It went well I suppose. Next week will be a trial and a half A taster session in the Day centre on tuesday at 8am, then a taster session at the Development centre at 9am on wednesday, THEN a feedback and meeting to see if I was any good and if they want me (worse bit!) Oh and I had my chocolate pick me up earlier, a Galaxy Ripple as always. God they are divine.

Weigh day tomorrow. No rest for the wicked.

Friday, 10 May 2013

dusty fingertips of a recovering anorexic

Ok, so this is my first post, this is going to introduce me to you. There are some pretty big things in my life and so this blog will likely float around these topics, namely my battles with anorexia and depression, but will not be solely about these issues, and although I will be brutally honest (because that's the whole point) I do have a sense of humour and hopefully this will shine through. most importantly: THIS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER ANOREXIC BLOG!! I hope that this blog will continue and will chart my journey of discovery of who I am without anorexia, and I will be as intrigued to read it as I hope anyone else will be in the future.

Well I'm looking at my hands, my fingers and thinking 'nothing much decent (save a bit of knitting and biscuit bakes) has flourished from you in a while, so this could all go tits up too. But I've lived in a state of perpetual inertia, afraid of starting anything because I'm totally convinced it will all fail and make me feel even more of a turd than I already do. So this is somewhat of a revelation for me.

Why have I started blogging? because I love writing but am so ashamed of my lack of anything interesting or stimulating in my brain these days to even contemplate a book. I have started so many diaries that I have a mental block bordering on phobia of them. This is a nice half way house. No obligation of a book and less futility than a diary that ultimately no one is going to read.

So I suppose you're wondering about the anorexic bit? Well for the past five years my identity, label loving self has been able to comfortably sit below the banner of 'anorexic', looking up and thinking; 'yes, this is me, this is where I belong and what I am'. Now I am struggling every day with the fact that I don't really have a label any more. In my desperation to be something I suppose I am a 'recovering anorexic'. But that doesn't really do anything for me. Now to quote the 'reasonable mind' that countless therapists and professionals seem to love to exhort, 'it is not healthy to have the label of 'anorexic', you are more than anorexia' blah blah blah. well yes I am quite aware of what the reasonable bloody mind says but the problem is I am not reasonable and appealing to this side of me rarely gets me anywhere other than the familiar territory of FAILURE!

Anyway enough waffling and time for some hard facts that will hopefully give me some body. (anorexia is shouting: as if I need more of a body!(its a joke)) firstly, I am 20. I have a beautiful and wondrous mother who is my absolute rock, 4 much older sisters, and a vacant gap where a father should be before he got bored with that title and wandered off. Not forgetting my friends, like outfits; one for every occasion and mood pretty much. I don't know where I'd be without friends. I live in oh so wonderful (sense the tone!) Derby in the UK.

I did fine at school until I failed my first year of a levels except english and art, its easy to blame anorexia here, and maybe it really was, who knows. Anyway I decided to jump the sinking ship and enrolled at catering college (ironically a lot of earning grades there meant eating and the anorexic, by some miracle did just fine!) where I had an absolute ball and even got a qualification out of it with laughable ease. Finding getting turned down for jobs left right and centre demoralising I then hopped onto an Apprenticeship program as a Care Assistant in a nursing home. For a good month each day of my apprenticeship began with horrific anxiety and an exhausting drive to please, please, please. Please the managers, please the residents, please the workers, please everyone all the time.

Eventually, after what seemed like an age, I settled down. Contrary to what you'd assume, once the pressure was off a bit my eating disorder woke itself up. I've now fathomed it was probably because I was actually getting some satisfaction out of finally pleasing everyone that I didn't need food any more- I could feed of the approval of others, which is what I've spent most of my life hunting out. To cut a long story short this time around (I've had lots of bouts of anorexic cycles) I did it so completely I broke down and ended up in hospital for 5 months. I got fatter, they let me out, I bounded back to work, and did it all over again, except this time I got severely ill; jeopardized my job, the residents, my friends, my family, my heart, my life, everything my thin little fingers touched, before I was nearly sectioned and ended up in a hell hole in grimsby. I hated every second. I missed my mum, family and friends like I'd lost my limbs. My day was ruled to me by people who were sometimes one or two years older than myself which I found demoralising and wholly patronising. I wont talk too much now about what went on there, it's likely that in my future posts you'll get snippets of my experiences in each institution.

Somehow I managed to get a slightly earlier discharge date, as life there had become truly unbearable. It didn't come easy; me, my mother and my CPN in Derby fought for it tooth and nail. In march however, I was released. I was euphoric for a week or two then something horrible started happening. No big event occurred, I was following my diet plans, but some kind of mental crisis struck me. Being someone who has either been in full time education or working all her life, this sudden barren emptiness struck me hard. Feelings of pointlessness and a surge of despair at my worthlessness engulfed me. What was I now? I wasn't even 'the thin one' or the 'anorexic' any more. I crave an identity and anorexia had been it for years and years and now it was gone. I had no career so I couldn't define myself in that way. This depression and fear of failure had cramped me so much that I was doing none of my previous hobbies like drawing, baking or writing. I was nothing. I was doing what everyone had told me- eating and 'taking time out for recovery' and I felt like my brain was slowly shutting down. I cried a lot. I became severely dependant on others, my mother primarily, and I was terrified of being alone. These feelings escalated into what I would diagnose as GAD (generalised anxiety disorder).

My anxiety would rabbit hop from one thing to another. For example if I was worrying I was loosing contact with my friends, I would meet one of them, these feelings would abate, and instantly another worry would rush into the gap left. There was no escape, no rest from the worry. I was terrified of it and its consequences. I began to feel that it would never end, I would never get a job- I was doomed to fail at everything. Something very prominent was my (and still is to a degree) my conviction that I was destined to be alone and partnerless for ever. Moreover I felt incapable of even simple tasks. I felt inferior to pretty much everyone else in the world. Convinced I would never get better I began to long to die. I knew I wouldn't have the guts to kill myself, not yet anyway, but I longed for my life just to end. After all what reasonable force was keeping this shell alive anyway? What logic was there in my survival when I seemed to make no imprint on the earth? My sleep, once my haven from the horrible thought now became infiltrated too. This was the last straw. Panic would wake me up and consume me worse than in the day. I felt so alone at night, like there was no one else in the world. My only release from anxiety was my mother holding me extremely tightly or walking for hours, and at night I was robbed of these diversions. I began to wake earlier and earlier and whenever this occurred my panic grew because I just imagined a continuous escalation of this panic stricken state over which I appeared to have no control.

In the end my mother got in touch with the team who had care of me in the community and pushed for a meeting with the Consultant psychiatrist to address my medication which was clearly not doing anything. He prescribed me Sertraline to hopefully reduce the anxiety. After a few days of being on it I felt exhausted by the adrenaline that wouldn't let my mind rest and I went to the GPs. I saw a doctor who had no grasp of my desperation and gave me the usual spiel of 'give it a few weeks'. Right then I didn't quite see how I was going to survive days let alone weeks. It wasn't that I thought I'd top myself by then, more a feeling that surely I was going to implode or self combust with all this tension building up. By now I couldn't read, bake, draw, write. It seemed I couldn't even exist unless someone was by my side.

So what happened you may be wondering? (if I've not bored you to tears already!) Well, here's what happened, at first; nothing. I didn't implode, I didn't self combust. Then, slowly the spring I felt I was coiling more tightly with each day began, slowly, to give. I've spent a lot of time questioning what it was that gave me this release of pressure but in the end I think; does it matter? It could have been a number of things that in my depressed, anxiety ridden state I dismissed as absolutely irrelevant and hopeless elements. It could have been a number of things. I had started volunteering at a lunch club on friday mornings which ran into the afternoon. Not only did this eat up the time nicely, after I settled in I actually felt I was doing something meaningful, a small imprint on the world was made again, a small purpose crept into my week. Two of my sisters suddenly became my crutch, whereas I'd come to expect no support except from my mother. They actually understood that a release from hospital is not the end of mental trauma, in fact it is only the beginning. They both called me every morning when they knew mum was at work and I was therefore facing my biggest fear of being alone. Their phone calls made me remember that there were other people who knew me in the world and even loved me. By now enough time had elapsed to reasonably say it could have been the effects of Sertraline. But perhaps in my irrational mind I had lost perspective of time scale, and the time that had elapsed since discharge, which to me had seemed an age and by far long enough to have adapted, was perhaps not really a long time at all. In fact it could be judged as a tiny amount of time, and the stretch of anxiety ridden peril had seemed a heck of a lot longer because of the mental stress of it, perhaps finally this was adapting. Who knows, but it happened I my biggest fear is that it will reoccur. But they say live for the moment, so I will try to enjoy this relative freedom.

So for now that's where I'm coming from, slowly finding my feet in the world after some pretty riveting changes in my life, which has taken place in what is actually a very short space of time, which is probably why its messed me up so much. And that's the laborious bit over with, now I can start posting properly YAY!