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Away With the Fairies.

on August 3, 2012

Today has been a roller-coaster of emotions. I set off on an early train to go and see my sister, brother-in-law and two scrummy nephews for the last time before I leave next Saturday.

I wasn’t feeling particularly sparky and I barely had the energy to get myself on the train, but once on board I was glad to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind me. My sister had arranged a horse whisperer/natural horsemanship man to come and see her gorgeous horse Fly, who I often refer to as the ginger mare. Ginger mares have a bit of reputation for being a little stroppy and I guess she is a perfect match for my sister who can also be a stroppy ginger mare! Adam was amazing with Fly – he listened to her and explained how the relationship with a horse is built much like all other relationships – on trust and respect. He never forced Fly to do something, but instead focused on her natural willingness to work when she was understood. Adam says that a horse is designed to synchronize physically and mentally and with that they then trust and respect. They will disconnect from anything that creates pain, such as pressure. I related to what he said so much with regards to my own relationships and feelings – perhaps this is why I feel most at peace in the saddle. At times throughout the session, Fly who is only two years old, went off into her own little world when she got bored, distracted or didn’t want to do what Adam was asking of her. To quote my sister “she is away with the fairies”. That is something I often notice in myself – I am here in body, but my mind is a million miles away. My physical self is not connected with my mental or spiritual self. I drift in and out of the present, often too preoccupied with matters relating to food, body, weight, shape and size. It’s as though my unhealthy self has disconnected my healthy self on all levels. I am like a jigsaw with pieces missing – working in constant disharmony. If I gave myself the time, patience and respect I give my horses then perhaps the jigsaw would be complete.

As lunchtime approached my sense of fear heightened and I had my usual state of panic when I looked at the menu in the coffee shop. My eyes scan the ingredients in each sandwich and then promptly decides – ugh I can’t have any of that, they all have cheese or mayo in them. As if anyone ever turned into a monster from eating some cheese! I managed to decide on a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich which was manageable, but then my sister said lets share a piece of cake and I thought are you kidding me…I can’t possibly eat a piece of cake so soon after a cheese sandwich. She got quite cross with me. It must be so frustrating to watch someone you love destroy themselves. My anorexia was adamant in it’s refusal – I felt paralysed from being able to eat some cake. The illness works in a twisted way. I actually didn’t feel very well today and felt thin and scrawny and unattractive. I knew that sharing a piece of cake would make no real difference to my weight and actually make me feel better, but I still couldn’t do it. I left the coffee shop feeling horrid – I had let my sister down and let the terrorist win again.

My two nephews are super cute and I am definitely not at all biased. As I walked into the play-park to see them and say my goodbyes I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. Children are so refreshing to be around. Their little worlds are simple, they need to know and feel they are loved and are safe, but after that they are pretty easy to please. I had a moment where I felt as though I was looking in on something I long to have myself – a unit. My sister, her husband and their two gorgeous boys highlighted just how far away my anorexia has taken me from having that. I hope I have not left it too late to be granted the privilege of having my own children one day.

Saying goodbye to my sister has been the hardest thing I have done so far. We have had not had a conventional sisterly relationship over the years. Being 7 years older than me, she has at times had to be more of a parent than a sister. We are a bit like chalk and cheese, although we have an in-house joke of calling each other sausage and bacon! She is the out-spoken, confident driver of the bus whereas I have always taken the back seat. Yet one thing that has remained, is her constant love and care for me. She along with my mum, has always been there to ‘save’ me in my darkest hour and for that I am truly grateful. I hope that in the years to come I can repay them by being a better sister and daughter. I can’t wait to be an equal – not the ‘sick’ sister that needs looking after.

Before heading, I managed to squeeze in a hug from my BIG bro. He is the one who has largely made it possible for me to go away. I will be forever in debt and I love seeing him as he reminds me of my very special step-dad. I know he would be very proud of the person he has become.

I was exhausted on the train back, but I met a lovely, special friend for a cuppa on the way home. She reminds me of a twinkly light, because she is so smiley and has a wonderfully sparkly disposition. She is getting married soon and I am so sad I won’t be here to share her special day, but from the shores of California she will be very much in my thoughts.

I booked my flight today and suddenly everything seems so real. Each day that passes I am becoming more anxious of what awaits me across the Atlantic, and my unhealthy self feels as though it is trying to have the last laugh. It is doing all it can to scare me into submission, similar to how Adam describes the way some people try to force a horse into performing a task – I am feeling the pressure. I am terrified about getting on that plane. I have lived with the terrorist for so long, that as much as I hate it, I have also become dependent on it, and I am scared to find out who and what will I be without it. I have no idea what the answer to these questions are, all I know is that I am willing and ready to take the risk and find out. No one is going to give me an Olympic medal for being the best anorexic, and quite frankly it would be nothing to be proud of anyway!

All in all a busy day full of ups and downs, but another day full of gratitude.

My lovely sis, bro-in-law and nephews x

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8 responses to “Away With the Fairies.

  1. LadyEm says:

    I’m listening to you talking to Jeremy Vine and am transfixed. Your situation is the same as mine, same age, BMI. I always manage to find the words to express how I’m feeling but this time, I’m at a loss. Hearing your voice breaking broke my heart because I know what you feel. I’m also despairing with the outpatient NHS treatment. My psychiatrist and dietician appointments are 2 and 3 weeks apart (Jeremy read my email to him out on his show with you). I feel stronger after an appointment but it only takes one setback and I’m lost again. I have no support, other than wonderful friends and family, but the pressure on them is immense.

    You just said “I need to learn to let go a bit.”. I’m not sure about letting go. They keep saying I should lower my standards and not be such a perfectionist, but that’s who I am! Like you, however, I know I need to “let go” a little. This doesn’t mean lowering my standards or being weak, it means realising what beliefs and practices actually do me harm.

    With my very best wishes to you and for your treatment in America.

  2. Lisa says:

    Incredibly moving interview on Radio2 today, thank you for your inspiring bravery. Look forward to reading updates from California.

  3. Steve says:

    Heard you on the Jeremey Vine show today and thought how incredibly brave you are Laura. Good luck with your trip to the USA, hope your treatment works out well for you x

  4. G says:

    My girlfriends story is so similar to yours (except for the understanding boss). It’s almost reassuring to know that she isn’t the only one. By opening up like this, i feel that you have given yourself an almighty boost to beating the illness.

    I will be following your progress and treatment in California to try and get some inspiration and strength in our battle.

  5. Liz and Mike Amos says:

    Good luck Laura. We will follow your US journey with interest. Keep up the good fight!
    Much love Liz and Mike

  6. Emmi Stead says:

    Hi Laura, I just wanted to get in touch as one of our staff members heard your story on Radio 2 yesterday. We are a not for profit social enterprise providing award winning NHS mental health service in North East Lincolnshire.

    Earlier this year we opened our new dedicated specialist eating disorder unit in Grimsby: http://ow.ly/cMW4m Rharian Fields, meaning that our residents no longer have to travel hundreds of miles to access the support they need. We we not happy that we had to send people to Yorkshire let alone the USA! We offer a full range of options from outpaitent and home treatment to day care and inpatient.

    We would love for you to see that there are NHS units out there that are really trying to make a difference in people’s lives, we are only interested in providing services that we would be happy for our own families to use, as standard we try hard to maintain.

    So check us out and we would love to have you over to Grimsby!

    The Rharian Fields team, NAViGO

  7. Jacqui howells says:

    Heard your interview today.. Truly proud of you being so brave and being so open, Michael Brooke and I have you in our thoughts during this journey you now embark on to beat your demons.. Love as always Jacqui xxx

  8. Liz Orford says:

    My totally amazing sister – you are the bravest and most intuiative person I have ever met. I love you so much I can’t describe it and I know this experience will be the one you want and need to have the life you deserve – can’t wait to share it with you. Lxxxx

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