I don’t know many other people with eating disorders in ‘real life’. But social media being what it is, I sometimes come across others, often in the early stages, usually, but not always in their late teens or early twenties, sometimes in that all too familiar cycle of partial recovery and relapse. I want to scream a warning, beg you not to let it drag on if you can possibly help it, not to make the mistakes I did. So from someone who has been stuck longer than I’d like, here are some thoughts.
Opening up, reducing the amount of compartmentalising we do, it’s massive in eating disorder recovery.
My husband came to my therapy session this week. This is HUGE. A friend commented that the degree of anxiety it caused me is quite telling. What is so difficult about having my husband, who I share the entirety of my life with, sitting in the same room as my therapist and talking about my eating disorder. I don’t know. It is just not something I have EVER done. I have always tried to manage things myself. It’s my issue, after all.
For a long time I’ve had a habit of keeping things separate, without even really realising it. Especially, but not solely, when it comes to eating and weight. I recognise this is about protecting myself, but it is also about protecting others from things I feel they are either unable to, or shouldn’t have to, cope with. Sometimes, sharing seems unnecessary, not because I want to hold things back (though sometimes I do) but because it feels like the most responsible option. I have also worked very hard over the years to function and keep going, and I definitely do not see myself as a ‘patient’ or someone who is very ‘unwell’. I don’t want other people to view me as that – or certainly not as only that either. Continue reading
So recently I’ve been having a few of those days where I feel a bit rubbish, a failure, and intensely irritated with myself. I’m anxious and jittery, keeping busy to avoid my thoughts (because we all know that works really well!) I suspect if I didn’t have the training I have, I might see things differently. I know at least some of the answers. I know […]
It may sound ridiculous but I struggle hugely to prioritise meal times. It’s more difficult in the busyness of work, but even at weekends, I find that it can be 2pm and I haven’t thought about lunch. Is it an ‘eating disorder’ excuse? Maybe. I need to find a way to prioritise eating and to hold myself accountable when my plan doesn’t happen. Somehow the monitoring I am doing is not enough and I still find myself skipping bits, leaving bits or not giving myself enough to begin with. It’s so automatic I don’t always recognise I’m doing it at the time. People say my portion sizes are still too small but I don’t really agree with that. They are way bigger than before. But I’ve been living by different rules for a long time, and it’s a hard attitude to shift. I have to find a way of doing what I need to do, even when I’m in a frame of mind where I really don’t want to. Continue reading
I’ve been writing here for a couple of years, and until recently it has been much more contemplation than doing much consistently ‘active’ in the way of recovery. I think my inactivity was fuelled by a few things. Mainly, genuinely thinking I didn’t have ‘enough’ of an eating disorder to justify asking for more help or making changes (‘not thin enough’, functional, being ‘fine’.). Continue reading
I have always ‘functioned’. And I really think for me, functioning has been a double edged sword. The drive to keep going is the thing that has allowed me to build a life, find someone I love, reach a certain level professionally, develop adult friendships, have (some degree of) understanding of my weak points. It has also allowed me to at times almost completely dismiss my difficulties with eating, definitely to trivialise them. I wonder whether I have been so good at doing this, it has allowed other people to get dragged into that too. Continue reading
I recently bumped into a colleague in the waiting room. She was there for ‘work stuff’. Naturally she assumed I was also there for ‘work stuff’. But in fact I was there for my own therapy appointment. You’d think in a huge mental health trust, these encounters would be rare, but so far I’ve bumped into someone I work with nearly every week. And when I bump into people, I go into therapy feeling vulnerable and ashamed. Not the best starting point.
I’ve recently begun to have some input from my local ED service after a long period of being ‘fine’. I have been ‘fine’ and ‘functioning’ for a very long time, at a low but stable, not ‘worryingly’ low weight, generally living life, getting married, having some lovely times with my husband, friends, switching from social work to a related but less stressful job where I have a bit more work-life balance. However I am forced to admit that to some degree, without me realising, my eating disorder clung on for the ride. It is only now, a little way into a course of (proper) CBT for eating disorders that I am beginning to see how tangled up I still am. The ‘how on earth did I not see this’ is the worst part, although I am still getting my head around that. Continue reading
I know you are busy, with time pressures, targets and a never ending onslaught of patients and tasks. I know your day is 12 hours long, lunch breaks are rare and expectations high. I suspect that often, in the pecking order, mental health isn’t always up there as the most important (or deserving) of your time and attention. Eating disorders are not that common, and if we’re honest, often viewed as self induced or self indulgent. And do you really have time to learn about something you’ll encounter infrequently and that will only create more work if you do recognise it? So, as someone who received an eating disorder diagnosis (and treatment) ten years later than I should have, here are my thoughts on how valuable you are, and how you can help: Continue reading