Thursday, 29 August 2013

In What Way Was That Supposed to Help?

I was going to start this post by stating how much at the moment I am struggling with my body image. Then I stopped and thought about it; and of course the truth is there hasn't really been a time in the past years that I have had anything other than a bad body image. Never have I wished to not be smaller. Never have I felt good enough.

But that aside yes, at the moment I seem to be shining an excruciatingly bright spot light on myself. my flesh in particular.

In April/May time, after years of the Derbyshire community ED team whose care I am in pressing me and urging me to do so, I began attending DBT therapy. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. It is a lot like CBT except it is a group therapy. Originally formulated to treat Borderline Personality Disorder it has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of eating disorders. I think mainly anorexia but I'm not positive.

There are a few reasons why I took so much cajoling to attend. Firstly, I see any sort of therapy (with the exception of my one revelationonary Brief Solution therapist about a year ago in hospital 1) as 'namby pamby wont work for me only suggestible people'. I know this is grossly naive. Secondly, I hate mindfulness. Thirdly, I am notoriously bad at therapy which involves written homework. It just will not ever get done. Fourthly, I have no desire when I already feel fat to sit for two hours straight with nothing else to look at besides fucking thin anorexics.

Whatever- I agreed to start. It hasn't really helped me in the sense that I use the therapy itself. I blagged the homework sheets and always scribbled them in starbucks 20 minutes before sessions. And I managed to cope with the anorexics bit because there weren't any extremely thin bodies there. I continued to go because it filled up Wednesday afternoons and I liked to have a chat with the members who were actually pretty nice. Basically at that time I had nothing better to do. Once you sign up anyway it is quite hard to execrate yourself until the module ends.

I completed my first module and we just had a 'summer break' of a month or two. Yesterday was the first session of the new module. We had already been informed that as well as the existing members (bar one girl who's gone to uni) there would likely be new members. Surprisingly I naively gave this little thought.

So yesterday off I bobbed to DBT. I entered in a pretty ok mood. I left nearly crying and wanting to murder someone. This is why:

I was sat in the waiting room, first to arrive. Old group members polled up and we had a friendly catchup until one of the two 'therapists' (I use that word with one eyebrow raised) came and introduced the first new member.

Oh hello skeleton number one! Great. Did it matter that she was fairly old, not attractive, obviously physically compromised as she was using a crutch-no- because all I saw was bones. Bones, bones, bones. The first nasty twinges of jealousy and hate rippled through me. Not a great start.

So imagine my horror when the door opens and this grass hopper like person lollops over to us on her sticks, sticks riddled with tendons bulging around her protruding balls of knees. She was a tall woman, full of spiky angles and hollows. She immediately engages in conversation with the old group members- clearly they already know each other. I sit in my own bile of hate and disgust. Anorexia tearing me apart with insults and mocking at my comparative hugeness. If my actions were physically personified. I would be sat there tearing at my flesh and flogging myself whilst yelling hate filled insults.

I don't know how to describe the twisted nature of my body envy- it is exclusive to anorexia in its absolute freak absurdness. I am going to have a hard job explaining it. I hope I can. While I attempt to you are for-warned- in order to be honest and truthful I am going to sound an absolute evil bitch when I am talking about these women who are probably lovely, kind people. But anorexia does not care about personalities.

These women were not attractive. They were more than not attractive. They were both old. They posed no other advantage besides their emaciation. In anorexia's eyes this is the only thing that matters. The first woman was physically disabled, probably in pain. I doubt she had a job. She was not pretty or well dressed. But I was staring at the calves emerging from her three quarter jeans- they were sticks. The second woman had severe kyphosis, pretty much guaranteed to be the result of years of malnutrition fuelled osteoporosis due to anorexia. The deformation of her back caused a contortion of the torso resulting in the appearance of a protruding lower abdomen. But all I focused on was how this thrust forward displayed her parallel ridges of hips. Her face was the worst. Some people, no matter what weight they are, will have an unfortunate physiognomy due to the bone structure and this itself gives the impression of tight, gauntness. Add severe weight loss to this and you have the most extreme facial features imaginable. The horse-facedness was further hampered by her thin, wispy hair, as short as mine and unstylable. Her whole appearance was vulture like. Had I had the strength the look up I would have undoubtedly seen all other people gawking at her. That sort of body turns even the most unturnable heads.

So you see, these woman were (I hate to let this ugly word come from me) ugly. To society they are poor, ugly, ill, freaks. To a girl driven by anorexia they are purely markers of achievement. To anorexia their bodies become the sticks with which you beat yourself up over your inferior body, your hideous excess flesh.

I had to sit in that room for two hours and endure every imaginable mental torture anorexia could put me through.

Perhaps the worst feeling was the horror that my mind was so rotten. Insults and evil were racing through my mind. If I had tourettes then JESUS could you imagine??? I wanted to spit out venom at them. I sunk in my chair, slowly being torn apart by anorexia's self hate at my body and my own self hate that I was generating these evil, vile thoughts about two innocent people.

I was mute and rebellious the whole session. I must have looked to everyone like the most moody, ignorant teenager.

I was the first one out of the door.

My over riding feelings are hate at the 'therapists' (one of whom sees me on a regular basis and knows my body image struggles) for putting me through that.

I am seeing said therapist today and I plan to tell her I wont be attending and my reasons why at the very beginning of our session to give me no chance to become timid and not do so. I am NOT putting myself through that again.

What stings more than anything is the fact that the people who are monitoring me and telling me any small loss now will result in compulsory admission are the same people who put me in that room with those skeletons. The whole situation was like dangling a carrot before a rabbit on the very verge of starvation and putting it behind glass. What I mean in explicit terms is- the same people who are telling ME . cannot lose any more are also monitoring these women who are so obviously lower weights than me.



  1. I really appreciated that your post very articulately described something that I think a lot of people suffering from ED's feel but can't or don't discuss. I don't consider myself competitive and I'm certainly not a jealous person. Except for when it comes to people's weights, and I feel so awful about it. And what you just described is a big reason why I am afraid of any group treatment.

    But at the same time, although you were triggered by the sight of their bones, does seeing all the negative physical side effects of anorexia help you? Maybe trying to focus more on her thin hair and the other signs you noticed can help remind you of the reality of anorexia.

    Good luck and stay strong, I hope you have a better time with your treatment from here on out.

    Lovely blog, btw :)

  2. Thank you :)

    It is horrible to think that you can think such nasty thoughts when all you are trying to do all the while is make yourself a better person. I guess anorexia is just a nasty evil little person.

    I don't think about the things you say about the long term health implications enough. even when they are staring me in the face with visible bone deformities and I know I already have osteoporosis I can still push it away. Screwed up isnt it!?


  3. I think your honestly is very good Katie, I don't want you or anyone sugar coating it... I could almost feel exactly how you felt as you wrote it so clearly. I don't think you should have to feel this way, I hope there is something that comes along that can help you :)

  4. Oh Katie dear... I mean this with pure love. I think you should stay BECAUSE it makes you uncomfortable. Anorexia tells you you can't be there because they're thinner and I've been there, jealous. In reality, they are probably sadder than you so who is winning, really? The other day (and today) I was in the gym lifting and there was this same beautiful girl listing too. First of all, not many girls lift weights in a serious way, and second of all, she lifted heavier than I did. I felt ashamed and ugly and flabby and weak and I just thought about leaving. Later I realized how ridiculous that was because we're both there to improve our minds and bodies. You only compete with yourself. Don't run. Have courage lovely. <3

  5. No one has given me that perspective before.
    I really never considered it- you must have tremendous insight!! Thankyou!

    I think you are a much stronger person than me, as I feel too weak to be hurt again, and that is what seeing them does.

    Thankyouu for your love and wonderful comments they are so helpful xxxxxxx

  6. I attended a DBT course too, and was also reluctant to go, mainly because it was group therapy as well as one-to-one sessions. I found that being in a group made me so anxious that I couldn't participate and could not focus on what was going on so didn't really get anything out of it. I ended up losing too much weight and ending up in hospital, which meant that I no longer had to go to DBT yay! Also, my psychiatrist sent me to DBT to help with the anorexia, and then this year she diagnosed me with BPD and said that DBT would help me. When I told her she'd already sent me for DBT, she said she hadn't...I was like...erm, I went for 6 months...stupid!!!! Argh they make me so mad!

    I love how honest you are with yourself here. It seems a shame to stop going when it seemed to be good for you last time. The other anorexic girls there probably look at you in the same way as you look at them. It's the way the anorexic mind works. Be stronger than the ED! I believe in you and your strength and courage!

    Loads of love xxxxxxxx