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Keeping it real.

on September 1, 2012
I have days where I wake up here and wonder if I am in a dream. I struggle to accept that I can’t do the most basic of things – feed myself adequately. It’s crazy when I actually think about it, but I have to pigeon hole this or I drive myself mad. I AM here, so I need to get on with the job in hand.
Getting on with it has made it all that bit easier by my ‘One in a Squillion’ sister and her army of supporters who have shown me even more kindness and generosity. After taking it upon herself to upload a hideous picture of me onto a fund-raising page, I have yet again been reminded just what wonderful people I am surrounded by. Working in news I often come into contact with people who have been affected by trauma, tragedy or who are simply in need of some love. It feels quite surreal that I have now switched sides.
I have been going through an angry, frustrating phase the last few days. Being here in such an intense environment with people you have never met and may not choose to spend your time with can be tricky. Throw an eating disorder into the arena and the result is ‘Playground Politics’. The last few days have highlighted my insecurities and longing to ‘fit in’, a familiar feeling. The terrorist loves to compare, compete and chant self-hatred towards me – telling me “I’m not good enough, you don’t belong, must be something wrong with you’ bla bla bla. The volume has been on maximum and I have been trying to press mute with little success. In the ‘real’ world (the one that actually matters), these little things would wash over me, but in this bubble, called ‘treatment’, the little things become magnified to catastrophes. I’m trying to ‘keep it real’ and focus on my recovery and why I am here. The dynamics change a lot. New people come and go, each clutching the terrorist tightly. Change frightens me, but instead of turning it in on myself, I am going to attempt to embrace it and learn from it.
Body image is something that I have largely cast aside. Of course I know that my body image is not healthy or I wouldn’t be in a treatment centre for anorexia, but the crux of my illness has concentrated on my ability, or lack of it to deal with my emotions. One of our groups this week focused on how we perceive our physical self, how this is influenced, how it affects our relationships and how we would like it to be different. It took me a while to put pen to paper, but once I began, I couldn’t stop. I won’t bore you with the minutiae but I can at least say that I will be needing to draw this particular line in a bit closer to shore. My perception of my physical self is causing some uncomfortable feelings. It’s been highlighted a little more this week by several comments from people who know me, saying they didn’t notice I had a problem or an eating disorder. My head went into a spin. The chat went something like this…
“Yikes I must not be that ill – I knew I was right. What am I doing here… surely if people who have known me for a long time didn’t realise then I obviously don’t need/deserve to be here. I don’t need all this food. F***!”
I shared my thoughts with my therapist and a few close family members and was reminded that I do a good job of hiding it with clothes and my comforting bottle of St Tropez. I also guess it highlights my self-obsessiveness. I think everyone must be focusing on me, but I was reminded that people are generally wrapped up in their own worlds, often oblivious to others – and rightly so. I guess I have always felt not ill enough, something I have written about before. I’ve been trying to adjust to being told the complete opposite by the medical team here who tell me that I am pretty poorly. The whole reason I began this blog was to raise awareness of the many thousands of people who are ‘managing’ an eating disorder – not deemed sick enough to qualify for adequate support on the NHS.
At the beginning of each session, we read a quote out loud. This following one stuck out for me given the total overwhelming warmth I am feeling from across the pond.
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down…” Oprah Winfrey.
I am blessed in knowing that I have many people close to me who I feel sure would take the bus with me.
Oh and my Papa informed me that he is coming to visit. Super excited if not a little nervous. It’s not for a while, but something to look forward to. Last time we had a family therapy session when I was 18, he asked the therapist why I had developed an eating disorder. The reply was “She has used it as a coping mechanism for things that have happened in her life”. My dad’s reply was “S*** happens”! I will never forget this – I ran out of the room crying. Let’s hope we have moved on a little since then!
The irony is that although at the time I felt hurt and totally misunderstood by him, my dad had a point. We all have difficulties in our lives, and for me, I am sure I will face a lot more. What I can’t continue to do is, use my eating disorder as a way to cope and block it out. I have proven numerous times over that it doesn’t work in the long-term.

5 responses to “Keeping it real.

  1. Amy says:

    You are doing so well through this difficult time, i really admire your honesty and the way you answer back to the demon in your head. Keep fighting the terrorist and listening to all the people around you who are in the ‘real world’ and can give you a true opinion of what is happening instead of the bully who tells you otherwise. Thinking of u and being inspired by you each day so thank you:) Amy xx

  2. Liz Orford says:

    I’ll take the bus with you any time, any where!

    Frankly, the limo is an unsightly, shallow and unreliable vehicle for where we want to go

    I love you xxxx

  3. Muriel says:

    Laura I am impressed with your courage to look within.i know how hard that is to do that. Get rid of those demons and you will begin to live a wonderful life. Love as always x

  4. Sandra White says:

    As Muriel says, your courage shines through dear Laura. Although not easy, it will be very gratifying when you can look back and see how far you have come. Continuing to send you loving, healing vibes. Love and huge hugs. Sandra xx

  5. Anna P says:

    Laura, thank you for your honesty and for being such an eloquent writer! And remember, we all have things to bear, of course we do, but when they become unbearable we become unwell. Some more than others. Sending big wishes for the comfortable, happy, healthy & content you to overcome the terrorist within. Anna x

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