This morning I had a cup of milk on my cereal. I know it was a cup, because I measured it. This is not something I usually do. This morning I had to force myself to measure out a cup of milk, as per my dietitian’s request, because this is not something I usually do and whilst I measure my cereal I do not measure my milk. I have always pronounced this to health professionals triumphantly – I do not measure my milk, therefore I am not obsessive and I can be flexible and I am smashing this whole recovery thing. Continue reading
I’m sitting on my bed at the moment, casually eating chocolate, yoghurt and an apple for dinner / supper (I’ve been sick this week, no judgings!) thinking about the exam that I really need to be studying for that’s occurring tomorrow but getting epic urges to be blogging and song-writing and laying down horizontal in my bed sleeping away festy infections – so I’m shoving the studying and the sleeping aside for the next half hour or so and getting rid of the writing cravings and dropping chocolate crumbs on my laptop in the meantime.
Oh, by the way. This is one of those epic, ranty, stereotypical “I hate ye eating disorder!” *waves fist angrily* letters, yeah. Grab your own chocolate and make sure you’re comfortable and your brain is in gear – blog post may contain ramblings and chocolate crumbs and a wee bit of joy and perhaps a pinch of sadness.
I totally ate a hamburger the other night. The works actually; a roll and a meat patty and salad-ey like stuff (lettuce and cheese and beetroot and tomato) and barbecue sauce (the superior sauce) and also ate hot chips and drank lemon lime and bitters. Ahuh. I don’t really care if you think that’s bad because I tend to not do that everyday so it was pretty lovely.
And then the next night I had a maccas caramel sundae (had one last year but purged, so we had to tackle that one again.)
And YESTERDAY I drank not one, but TWO full creamed milk coffees and had a delicious chocolate tart.
So now the only thing left on my scary food list is pizza. And I think I’ll eat it with great success. And hopefully in great company.
I could rattle off a lot of wonderful things that have come about as a result of recovering from an eating disorder. Just the general, you know, putting on necessary kilograms and having a healthy weight again and being able to eat wonderful food now. But I bet you never would have thought that I’d have a least favourite thing.
But I do!
Dun dun dunnnnnn.
The worst part is having to deal with real core issues that the eating disorder was covering up. In many ways, having an eating disorder was so much easier. I didn’t have to FEEL stuff or deal with stuff. I’m pretty much past the stage where I’d return to my eating disorder now, but a few months back I would’ve gotten overwhelmed with how difficult this stage was / is going to be and quit and probably heavily relapsed.
I guess I just want to urge you that … if you’re recovering and you think “there is absolutely no way I can deal with this stuff“, then be brave. Do not take the easy way out. Because as absurd as it sounds and seems, relapsing is the easy way out. I know that this stuff is difficult to deal with. I’m in the same place that you are. But I’m pretty sure this season, this place you’re in and I’m in now, will be a worthwhile one.
You can do eeeet!
P.S – this was totally my first post ever from my new laptop. History in the making right here!
Ahoy from Canberra! I meant to write a blog post before I headed down here to say “hi, i’m going to Canberra for a while so I may not post anything this week” etc etc etc. But I ran out of time and in all honesty I was a little scared of coming down here … Not because I was worried about being here as such, but I was scared of what I was leaving behind. Mostly, I was frightened of stepping out of rigid behaviours, such as eating (generally) the same foods at (generally) the same times, (generally) most days. I was apprehensive about doing different things … perhaps eating out far more often than I’m used to and being afraid to say I was stressing about food to my friends (L & C – wonderful ladies!) thereby giving my ED a foothold.
But so far it’s been okay.
The best part (obviously) has been spending time with L & C and being away from Gerringong where I was sort of stuck all of last year because my eating disorder refused to let much else happen.
Other highlights include taking loads of glorious photos of so many joyful things that have been occurring, drinking lots of really good coffee and being able to lay in Glebe Park and do a crossword and not feel guilty – just be.
I think doing something like this has to be part of my recovery process – so having the opportunity to do this is something I feel very thankful for.
So hopefully no dwelling on how much I’m eating or how much exercise I’m not doing in the coming days. I think it’s about time I let the ED give me a break.
And shall definitely be posting when I return on Sunday. So hope you all enjoy your weekend very much!
6 months ago, if I had been out an event or party of some sort, I can tell you without a doubt that I would have eaten something, beaten myself up about it and hurried home first thing so as to rid myself of the food. I would panic if I couldn’t. Think of the panic you might feel if you were being attacked by a 5 metre shark. Or if you’re the clever type, failing your first ever exam. Or being chased by six balaclava clad men carrying torches, closely followed by a dragon freakishly similar to the one in Shrek. It’s sorta like that.
I’m rambling because I’m tired. And I just finished watching Shrek.
I think I should probably get to the point. Eating disorders ruin the social life. You decide to go out with friends. You take photos at the beach. You eat hot chips for afternoon tea. You laugh and be joyful and get home, only to hop in the shower and get rid of what you’d consumed. You go to a 19th. You eat almost the whole bowl of lollies. You panic. You lie and say you have to get home for a Skype date. Same deal. You have afternoon tea for your birthday and eat a piece of creamy chocolate cake. Make an excuse to get out of there. You drive to the beach, sobbing all the way there about what you’re about to do – you don’t want to, but you need to or else (somehow) your weight will change significantly overnight. You purge in a public toilet and cry the whole way home.
It’s irrational, I know. Unpleasant, to say the very least. But it’s the eating disordered life.
I’m so thankful to be past that.
Yesterday, I had afternoon tea with S & B – and it was cool. Maybe a little awkies ’cause it’s been a long while but mostly wonderful. We had coffees and ordered more food than was necessary and talked for a really long time about their European adventures and next year and just generally exclaimed at random intervals how strange it was to be in each others presence (like I said – it’s been a long time!) Then we stood in the car park in the drizzle and talked some more and made future plans for Thai and cheese nights and more catch ups! (and L and C and H to also be there!)
I cannot wait to be better. I cannot wait until I can say “I’m recovered from an eating disorder” not “I’m recovering from an eating disorder”. I think I’m almost there. I’ve had plenty of bad days, but good days too. The recovery path isn’t a steady climb upwards – it’s all over the place! My dietitian took the time to remind me of this lovely fact the other day. So I will not expect great things from myself, but I will dare to challenge myself – because “recovered” relies on the motivation to change.
Heating heat wheats. Sweet slumber awaits.
There are so many misconceptions about eating disorders, and the sooner that we recognise them for what they are – myths – the sooner we are able to understand eating disorders more and be in a position where we can reach out to those around us who also may be suffering.
Myth #1: People who are overweight or a normal weight cannot have an eating disorder.
False. At the height of my bulimia, I was within a healthy weight range for my age and height. I was regularly taking laxatives, throwing up and overexercising – all behaviours that point to an eating disorder. Bulimia does not cause one to lose weight, as such – it is how the bulimic comes to maintain their weight. In saying that, bulimia can result in weight loss – each body is different, metabolisms are different and therefore weight loss will vary between individuals.
Myth #2: Only women are affected by eating disorders.
False. Statistics show that 1/10 individuals affected by eating disorders are male. Despite the fact that it is primarily women who are suffering from eating disorders, men are also struggling with body image. Eating disorders do not discriminate – they can affect men and women of a variety of ages, ethnicities and cultural upbringings and shapes.
Myth 3#: Individuals only suffer with 1 eating disorder at any given time.
False. I first had anorexia. There was a transition stage between anorexia and bulimia where I was still underweight and still engaging in anorexic behaviour, despite also participating in bulimic behaviour. Then I only had bulimia. Then I had EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) – that is, I was engaging in both anorexic and bulimic behaviour; however, I was no longer underweight, nor binging and purging each week as often as the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa states.
Myth 4#: Laxatives prevent calorie absorption.
Well no. They don’t. Laxatives actually cause colon problems and rid the body of its essential fluids – that is, it dehydrates the body. Weight loss is primarily due to a loss of water.
Myth #5: Eating disorders are not life-threatening.
It’s easy to shrug your shoulders when you hear someone has an eating disorder – but as I mentioned in this post here, eating disorders have a number of health consequences. Malnutrition, dehydration and muscle atrophy are particularly serious – low potassium also has effects on the heart, which in turn, can cause cardiac arrest. Another of my friends who is also in recovery from an eating disorder told me that a girl from her therapy group had died from her eating disorder. She was young, and she was within her healthy weight range. Don’t think that an eating disorder won’t kill you, because it can. In my opinion, the individual either recovers from their eating disorder, or they are tragically killed as a result of it. It is impossible to live an entire life in this way, with these health problems. Choose life.
Myth #6: Only teenagers suffer with eating disorders.
Primarily, yes. 86% of eating disorder sufferers are teenagers. But that still leaves another 14% who are over 20 and still suffering in just the same way. I attended a day program in Glebe earlier this year to attempt to get my eating patterns back on track and one of the women there was in her 40s. I was actually the youngest of the group.
Myth#7: Eating disorders are primarily a problem with food.
False. It’s not as if once the individual starts eating properly, their problems will be solved. There are reasons why the individual started to use food in an unhealthy manner – the eating disorder is not the primary problem. Perhaps there is anxiety in social situations, or there has been physical or sexual abuse that has not been sufficiently dealt with. Maybe there are issues at home. I’m not going to sit here and list every possible issue there could be, but the eating disorder is just a response to a much larger trauma.
Myth #8: You can always tell if someone is anorexic by their appearance.
It may be clear to you, or it may not be. The sufferer goes to extraordinary lengths to hide their weight loss. They may not be significantly underweight – and because slimmer bodies are generally valued by our society, nothing may seem abnormal to you. We do need to be aware that eating disorders may cause manipulative behaviour, or behaviour that seems out of line with someone’s personality. Eating disorders change an individuals thinking – they are negative speakers.
Myth #9: Individuals with eating disorders are lazy.
Far from it. These individuals take their dieting behaviour to the extreme. It is not a “quick-fix” or an easy way to lose weight – it is a cry for help, a destruction of the body – an extreme hate of ones own self. Individuals with eating disorders are not lazy, they are desperate.
Myth #10: You can never recover from an eating disorder.
The biggest lie of them all. With a proper treatment team (dietitian, psychologist, doctor), as well as friends and family who support the individual and hard work, recovery is possible. It may take many years and include multiple relapses – but this is to be expected on a recovery path. It’s a slow climb back to normality, but the eating disordered patient needs to want to recover, needs to want to change and needs to be willing to trust that their body will once again function in the way it previously did.
There are many more myths or misconceptions held around eating disorders – have a think for yourself what beliefs you have for yourself about them. Are they true? Do they hold up? Do some research and find out your belief is accurate – sometimes we don’t know as much as what we think.
A quarter to twelve. Drinking a cup of tea. Kind of hungry. Is it normal to eat at this time of night if you feel hungry? Not entirely sure.
Will eat yoghurt.
Sundays in this household are a bit funny food-wise and it stresses me out (though less so in more recent days). Breakfast is normal, I skip morning tea ’cause I am at church, have lunch, have afternoon tea, eat something light before church and then eat something else at 9:30 after church. Except tonight we had to drive someone home (another story altogether), so food consumings occurred later than the norm. ie now.
(Also, I’m not going to lie here. Just ate a piece of cooking chocolate)
So really today, I haven’t had any meals, bar breakfast and lunch. Just sort of random snacking. And random snacking is what the bulimic life was all about and so I’m sure you can imagine my stress at the moment. Perhaps not.
Let me explain.
When I was bulimic, I didn’t eat for long periods of time – sometimes not from breakfast until dinner time. And other days I would eat half a cup of (measured) strawberry yoghurt and then eat some carrots for lunch and then eat dinner and throw it up. Then I’d binge. A binge might involve opening the fridge door and picking at some fruit and nut cheese, eating 15 dates (counting them because I was still freaking myself out), eating multiple chocolate biscuits and leftover dinner from the night before or couscous, or jars of taco sauce, or eating the sultanas out of the cereal, and then bingeing on the cereal (we’re talking lots of cereal here) and crackers … and boxes of muesli bars… and peanut butter straight from the jar. All of this before drinking almost a litre of water in order to make myself throw up the food that I had just eaten.
Binge behaviour scares me. It’s one of the reasons I think I couldn’t go back to restricting my intake actually, because I realise that eventually I’d end up malnourished and falling victim to bulimia again. It’s not a pretty position to be in. Standing in the shower and throwing up kilos of food onto your feet is as unpleasant as it sounds. Throwing up blood is as terrifying as you might think it would be. I used to be there in the shower thinking “I’m going to die this time. God, please don’t let me die this way”. I could have and am so thankful that I didn’t. Not the best way to go, obviously.
I’m not going to lie. I still have food fears. I still have this awful feeling that I’m going to blimp out overnight and that any overeating at all will make me put on weight and it will be really obvious for all to see. So how do I get past that? In the long-term, I don’t want to stress about the extra piece of choccie that I ate, or that I had a tablespoon more of yoghurt than normal or that A made custard and I sort of indulged and ‘I really shouldn’t have done that, it was so bad’. I know that a full recovery means no more fretting about food. I don’t want to live my life this way anymore, and I don’t think I will. I don’t know if it’s even possible – but I’m going to do it anyway.
Featuring a photo of my friend Carole for funsies.
And also to point out my pre-eating disordered days when I was bigger, but kinda chubby faced and cute. You may observe I still have a baby tooth (it’s being removed on Friday! Ahh).
And here’s the eating disorder days:
Yeah, I look disgusting. Would you believe I thought I was fat here? I may not leave this photo up, I understand it could be triggering for some people – but I just want to highlight how screwed up the anorexic / bulimic brain in is convincing the individual that they are fat. It is so far from true. And it makes me so sad that some people never realise this and continue to live their lives as they are, or (very sadly), their eating disorder beats them.
Did you know that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder? That 1 in 10 girls in Australia currently suffer at the hands of an eating disorder? Someone you know probably has experienced this in one form or another. So what can we do? How can we stop this seemingly apparent epidemic from spreading any further than what it has? We look out for each other. We confront each other. We tell each other we’re lovely as we are. We eat chocolate and cook delicious meals and enjoy them and don’t give a stuff about whether or not we can wrap our hands around our waist.
We learn how to not care, somehow.
Good night, interwebs.
I have no intentions of letting this blog become a journal of sorts – my intention is to share my story and help others understand eating disorders, as well as giving support and encouragement to those also bumbling along the recovery path – or searching for it.
I feel the need to explain to you how I have reached the position that I have – that is, being recovery focused and willing to try to stop eating disordered behaviour.
In February of this year (2011), I moved out of home and into our church minister and his fam’s house. Let’s call them John and Helen. They have provided me with a stable family environment, support, love, attention and care that I need (and have needed) in order to get through this illness. That has come at a price – many fights and tears and frustrated sighs and sacrifices. These things have made me realise that I am perhaps a valuable person, that I am perhaps not as worthless as I originally thought, and that maybe it is alright to have needs and need people and need family and need support. I have been reminded today of the enormity of this – they have done so very much for me. And they have done it because they care for me, yes, and want to see me well – but also because they want to see me continue to grow in Christ’s love and my relationship with Him … and also because they love Him too.
Susie Orbach writes this:
“…it is precisely the actuality and availability of a reliable emotional relationship that makes it possible for the woman to confront her inner distress. The [therapist] acts as the supporting external psyche that contains her, allowing her to let go sufficiently for the buried emotional wounds to emerge.”
Replace “therapist” with “L&A” and you will understand, therefore, the support that they have been to me this past year.
They aren’t perfect, and none of us are … But they took the time-out to remind me that I deserve far better than an eating disorder and that people really do care about me too.
I guess this is just a challenge to you guys too – how willing are you to show someone that you love them? Or that God loves them? It’s the most important thing in an eating disordered patient in order for them to successfully recover.
And more than anything, I want to show the people in my life that I care for them and love them in the things I do and express, being selfless and as understanding as I can be.
More than anything, I think Jesus is the ultimate role model in this.
So I’ve had a break from writing and I don’t think I’m all that wonderful at it anymore. I decided I needed to start blogging, in the hopes that a random anoretic or bulimic would stumble across this page and be encouraged to recover or feel that they can or have the support that is necessary to them at this current point in their life.
I guess I also needed support from you guys too, the people I know.
Not many people know my story, or about the last two years. Basically, I have been recovering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. I have been seeing a dietitian, an eating disorder specialist, I’ve attended an outpatient program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and a day program in Glebe. No, I am not entirely well – but I am most definitely on the way!
All praise to the God who upholds and sustains.
So perhaps some posts will be downhearted, some upbeat – but I want you to come along with me on my road to recovery – a whole, fulfilling and wonderful life.