I’ve been having a bit more support for my eating disorder recently. This means more time away from work, absence which will definitely impact on my colleagues. I feel I owe the people I work closely with an explanation about where I am disappearing to and why. I also won’t see many members of my team for a while, and (if all goes to plan) I’ll look noticeably different when they do next see me. I am still fairly private at work (and in general) about my ‘issues’, but during the last year conversations about food and weight have gradually become part the normal fabric of life with my partner and close friends. Not so long ago I couldn’t say the words ‘eating disorder’ or ‘anorexia’ without becoming overwhelmed, so the talking is definite progress, even if I do feel ashamed and guilty, hate that it is necessary and feel horribly embarrassed that I find certain things so difficult the stage of life I’m at. I don’t know if anyone actually gets how embarrassed I feel every time I try to ask for help, help I don’t think I should need, can’t judge how or when to ask for, and can’t always say what I think I actually might need.
I’m feeling fairly determined at the moment. It’s unexpected, considering how I wanted to sink into the ground after therapy this morning. Part of the problem is that professionally, I know the answers, certainly in relation to managing anxiety. But I can’t always apply this to myself, and it sometimes gets in the way of my ability to challenge ‘food rules’ as much as I need to.
So this is an attempt to capture some of this unexpected perspective, as a way to (hopefully) refocus and provide an outside perspective when ‘eating disordered’ thoughts feel consuming and all too reasonable.
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.
So, I have in recent years fairly frequently made the decision to gain more weight without actually following through on this. I am not sure whether this is because I am not motivated – maybe I don’t want it badly enough – or whether other things are in the way. Maybe I just need a bit more help, although I’m not really sure how to get that. I think over the years, a lot of things have held me back from taking the plunge and really going for (what I know is really) recovery. One of those things is the confusion about which part of my mind to actually believe. I really struggle to know what is accurate. Do I need to gain weight, or am I actually ok? My GP has said things to suggest I’m ok and things to suggest I’m not. I know the numbers, so I know I’m underweight. I know what my old dietitian would say if she were still seeing me. I know I’m quite far away from the weight she wanted me at. I also know how I feel, which is that most of the time is huge, and I wish my weight were lower. Continue reading
“You know, I’ve been thinking, you should try to eat the same way you’d want your future daughter to eat”. Those were the wise words of my partner recently. We had been discussing my never ending plan to improve my diet and gain the weight I (apparently) need to. Which I always talk about but never seem to do anything about. I had been explaining my reasons for making poor food choices which apart from anything else, now just seem to be habits. Not that changing them doesn’t make me anxious, because it does. Continue reading
I was recently struck by a post by Emily Troscianko on her blog A Hunger Artist. In it, she talks about the importance of gaining weight to a fully healthy level (ie. to or above BMI 19) in order to fully recover from anorexia. Weight gain is a necessity, not an optional extra. Remaining underweight, is a way of appeasing the anorexia and leaves us ‘stuck’ in it. I suppose some people would say if a person remains underweight, they are in fact still ‘eating disordered’. It’s something I struggle to reconcile. I am still underweight and my eating habits aren’t ‘normal’, but they are normal for me and I can still work, run, talk to people and get on with life. Continue reading