‘I feel fat’. It’s something most (not all) people with an eating disorder diagnosis can relate to, and often it can be a real barrier to making progress in recovery. If you feel ‘fat’, how can you possibly allow yourself more food, more rest, or to consider the possibility that weight gain might actually be a good thing? Continue reading

The post below is from Liz. She describes her experience of a longstanding eating disorder and offers some helpful, compassionate suggestions for navigating the process of untangling oneself.

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I always say no one chooses an eating disorder, but a part of me definitely thinks it’s somehow ‘my fault’. I especially think it’s my fault for still being stuck with it at this stage. I know better, I should be able to do better. I am sure at least some people in my life think this too. I thought recovery would be relatively easy. That the reason it hadn’t happened so far is because I chose not to rather than couldn’t. Once I acknowledged to myself – and others – that actually, I’m not ok, I expected I’d just be able to drop the restriction, manage the guilt, the thoughts. I’ve discovered over the last few months that (even with great support from professionals, family and friends) it really doesn’t work like that. Recovery seems to be less about ‘letting go’ and more about wrestling your way out of something you’re so entangled in you have no real idea where you end and it begins. Continue reading

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.

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If you’re recovering from an eating disorder and are underweight, you really can’t get away from the fact that weight gain is an inevitable part of the process. It’s definitely the most ‘visible’ part, and often the element that people focus on most. At the same time, we often hear that it’s really not about the weight. It’s true that weight gain alone definitely won’t fix everything, although it may shift some of the rigidity that is secondary to ‘starvation’. But the uncomfortable truth is that for me at least, gaining weight may make some things worse, before they improve. This may not be the case for everyone, and I’m definitely not saying it isn’t worth it.

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The topic of eating disorders has been in the media a fair bit recently, and a recurring theme is that of ‘choice’. So for what it’s worth, here are my (unfinished) thoughts on the subject. I wonder what it will take for society to realise that eating disorders are no more an active choice than any other mental health problem. I also sometimes whether we need to think differently about the role of choice within recovery.

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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’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

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