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Welcomed reminders…

on July 31, 2012

Today was the first day I had been back in the office after sending the email explaining to my work colleagues that I was going into treatment. I was pretty nervous, but the first person I saw, gave me a big hug and said how proud he was of me for taking this step. The hug was hugely appreciated – I am so grateful to the wonderful people and organisation I work for, they are beyond supportive and I feel truly blessed.

Since receiving a date to go to the clinic, I’ve been questioning whether I really need to go and telling myself that perhaps I am not really all that ill. I have been looking at myself in the mirror more, thinking I’m not really that thin and that someone else in a worse position is more worthy of the bed at the clinic. It was only today when I was asked to describe some of the areas in my life that my anorexia has affected me did I realise that normal people don’t think or do the things I do. I am going to list a few here, partly to remind myself of why I do need help, but also to describe some of the insane things someone with anorexia does.

* I’ve taken sleeping tablets to help me get to sleep because I was so hungry.

* Had a panic attack on the M25, thinking I might pass out because I haven’t eaten solid food for days.

* Nearly passed out on the tube when my mum came to meet me to see a eating disorder specialist.

* Spent hours looking in shops for the lowest calorie can of soup only to dismiss them all.

* Thrown food hidden up my sleeve and thrown it over the garden fence, only for the neighbours to come and ask my mum if they knew where it had come from.

* Drunk pints of hot ribena to fill me up and keep me going instead of eating a proper meal.

* Got up at 5am in the snow to walk to the swimming pool to do a ridiculous amount of lengths before work, when I really didn’t want to. * Lied and said I had eaten when I hadn’t.

* Thrown a bowl of weetabix on the wall when my mum and sister tried to get me to eat something – in hindsight this was actually quite amusing as it stuck to the paint!

* Been to the gym and then changed back into my work clothes to hide that I had been exercising.

* Feel compelled to eat at certain times and on even numbers on the clock.

* Slip into OCD tendencies and cleaning rituals.

* Weighing and measuring food.

These are just a few of the things I have done/do over the years, some were in my early days when I was in denial – whilst others more recently. Today I manage better and am eating – but I eat what is ‘OK’ to eat according to my anorexia. I eat the same things week in week out, avoiding any social situation that involves food. I panic if I am thrown out of my routine – last weekend being an example. I was looking forward to spending the weekend with my sister and nephews, but as soon as she picked me up from the station I was sent into a state of panic. She said to me “you need to get your head around the fact that I am too tired to cook tonight, so we are having a takeaway”. My whole evening was ruined as I became totally focused on what I was going to have to eat, how much, and feeling totally out of control. I then began to look forward to leaving the next day returning to London, where I knew I could control of my food again. This is where the illness makes me so angry. I should of been looking forward to seeing my family and enjoying the time with them, but my anorexia wouldn’t let me. It’s like this horrible thing on my shoulder constantly nagging at me to count calories, eat what it says, avoid anything that is not in its rule book… it is selfish and cruel and robs me and many others of the joys in life.

From the outside I may to some look just ‘quite thin’. Some may even wonder why I need to go away to get better. You might wonder ‘why can’t she just eat a bit more’. I wish it was so simple. This is where the system lets people down. I am on the edge, not quite a low enough weight for the NHS to step in, but ill enough to not live a full life. I feel cold all the time and my energy levels are not the same as my friends. I miss out on so much because I don’t feel well enough and am too tired. I have not had a period for years and so my chances of having a child have potentially been jeopardised, and I am probably too engrossed in my eating disorder to have a relationship. Physically I do not really like the look of myself undressed so am too self-concious to let a potential boyfriend get that close to me. The strain it has had on my family and friends has taken it’s toll and I carry a constant sense of guilt around me that I can’t do better or try harder. As I said I do eat or I wouldn’t be here, and some days I do very well, others I do quite well, but most of the time I really struggle. The reality is even when I can stick to the eating plan my dietician has prescribed, it is controlled and dictated to me. I am not free to just choose and go with the flow, that power of choice left me long ago.

My relationships with others have been compromised at many levels. I first used my eating disorder to cope with a few big events that happened in my life, but the result of this has mean that I have become child like and seek reassurance and approval from others – largely my dad. This compensates for what I didn’t have and what my anorexia seeks to obtain. Now I need my eating disorder just to get through the day. As much as it is my enemy, it obviously still serves me or I would be able to give it up. This is where I hope that being in a safe environment 24/7 where I can challenge my eating disorder will help me.

I asked my sister today to describe how my eating disorder has affected me and those around me. She wrote me a long list of things, but the statement that really read true to me is this… “You can get very angry and frustrated/emotional if pestered to eat something you don’t want to. Overall, I feel your spirit was/is broken and you have little belief in or love for yourself. This drives your self abuse and has become a part of what you do.” The first step to recovery is wanting to get better, and whilst my anorexia will never be ready or low enough in weight, I do believe that my healthy self is ready to live another way. I now feel at a point where I owe it to myself and to those around me to try and beat the terrorist.

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3 responses to “Welcomed reminders…

  1. jas says:

    You will get better Laura truely inspirational and Amazing to read. Keep the blog up can’t wait to follow your journey xxxx

  2. Nat says:

    Wow, what amazingly insiteful reading. Flick you are so brave to have shared this and in doing so have proved that the anorexia has no place left within you. Good luck on your journey, and in squeezing it out forever!! So proud of you xx

  3. Anna says:

    Insightful reading, a lot of things I didn’t realise about the condition… thanks for sharing Laura, I think we’re all learning from this as it’s truly not as simple as – ‘can’t she just eat a bit more’? Sounds like you are ready for this journey of yours, there’s so much more to life which I really wish for you to discover, and I’m sure you will as soon as you can rid yourself from the claws of anorexia. You deserve it you know – it’s Your life, don’t let it escape! x x

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