Eating Disorders Awareness Week- My weight then and now.

It’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I thought I’d do a few posts about my struggles with eating disorders. I’m 3 years into recovery, and have been a healthy weight for 2 of those years.

What I felt about my weight then – With an Eating Disorder.

My life, when I was anorexic, used to be ruled by numbers. My weight, BMI etc. I had diaries full of documenting my weight changes and calories, instead of diaries detailing life events.

ScalefinishedMy eating disorder didn’t start out this way though. I didn’t get ill because I wanted to be thin. I was around 7 years old when I first started having problems with food. I had a few traumatic life events happen to me that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend, and even now as a 31 year old adult, I still struggle with what happened. The weight fixation was a symptom that cropped up after I had fully sunk into my eating disorder. When I was 7 and struggling mentally, I accidentally found out one day that hunger, and feeling hungry actually made me feel better. I liked being completely empty and it gave me a weird energy which equated to increased motivation. I started skipping lunches at school, and throwing my packed lunch into the bin, even at such a young age. If something makes you feel good though, you tend to want to do that thing over and over.

I was a teenager when my weight fixation hit it’s peak and it carried on until my late 20’s when I attempted recovery. I thought I was bigger than my friends and I hated my muscly body. While other girls my age got curves, I got muscles. I have an athletic body type, I have quite defined abs right now despite never lifting weights or doing sit ups. I thought I was a lot bigger than I was, the mirror was always lying to me. I had a “voice” in my head, well, it isn’t really a voice it just feels that way, actually what I experience are eating disordered thoughts, but they didn’t feel like my own thoughts, they felt very separate to me. I know, and I always knew how important it is to feed your body, I even studied science, but my brain was telling me that eating was bad, and I was a horrible person if I gained even half a pound of weight.

Failure. FAILED. You’re horrible, useless, worthless! Now you shouldn’t eat anything at all for the rest of the day.

It’s like you get completely brainwashed by your own thoughts, because you start to believe it’s true and eventually, you can’t even access the logic in your brain anymore to fight it with. Fighting with it is actually useless anyway.

I only ever felt good about myself if I weighed myself and found that I had lost weight, despite knowing deep in the back of my mind somewhere, that I had just made myself sicker. Feeling good about myself never lasted very long though, as soon as I reached a weight loss goal, my brain made me a new one, each one more scary than the goal previous. Getting to the endless goals was what my life consisted of, and I did anything to make those goals a reality, purging – making myself sick and taking laxatives or water tablets, over exercising, serious restriction, lying to people about what I had eaten that day etc. I had a whole host of excuses lined up to give to people, bad stomach, feel sick, already eaten, stomach bug, food poisoning etc.

Having an eating disorder is awful. I felt constantly cold, constantly weak, I had palpitations, I had fuzz all over my skin because I wasn’t eating enough to heat my body, my nails would be blue, I’d feel faint and weak, I hated myself everyday, I thought I was trapped in an ED forever, I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror, and I was constantly hearing horrible things about myself in my own head. How horrible I was, what a bad mother I am, etc. When I reached my lowest weight, I took my phone to bed with me convinced I might have to call an ambulance some day soon. Despite all of these symptoms being completely awful, saying goodbye to my eating disorder felt like an impossibility. I had tried to recover a few times without medical intervention and I always ended up going through a week of bingeing and purging before going back to the way I was. It was hard to want to recover because at the time, I only ever only saw the good in what I was doing, I felt a bit better mentally about things because my ED helped me to cope. There was a large amount of denial involved with how bad things really were. After all, ED was always there for me, through everything. I thought it was who I was, and felt it was my identity. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to cope without it.

3 years ago, I went to the doctors, and was honest with them about my eating disorder, and I then told them that I wanted to recover, I was at my lowest weight ever, and didn’t think I could go on much more without something serious happening to me. I realised that I didn’t want to die, basically. What followed was a year of appointments, followed by years of ongoing outpatient treatment, and getting myself better. I’ll explain the recovery process in a bit more detail at a later date, but for now, just know that I worked extremely hard to get better despite thinking that I had been in this eating disorder for 20+ years so, “It probably won’t work for me but I’ll try anyway”. I didn’t even want to get better for me, I felt I didn’t deserve to get better, but I knew I had to for my daughter. She deserved to have a Mummy who didn’t have an eating disorder. Of course it wasn’t that easy, and recovery was traumatic and painful, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, but it was so worth it.

How I feel about my weight now- Without an Eating Disorder.

mepluspizza1

Today, I am a healthy weight and have been ever since, apart from a few ups and downs that are to be expected in recovery. I don’t know exactly what my weight is, last time I was weighed was a year ago, I was just over BMI 20 and I think I’ve gained weight since then. Weighing myself is too triggering, so I don’t ever weigh myself anymore unless I’m supervised. I think differently about my weight now, most of the time it doesn’t even cross my mind. When I’m feeling good, I don’t care what my weight is, I just want to stay well. Eating more gives certain benefits, more energy (although I would have argued with you until I was blue in the face that not eating gives me more energy), anything I do now, like art and gaming etc, I can do SO MUCH BETTER when I’ve eaten enough food. I don’t think about food or weight or calories all the time, I don’t constantly watch triggering TV shows like Supersize vs Superskinny. I’m hardly ever cold unless it is really cold outside. I never feel weak or dizzy, and I don’t have palpitations anymore.

I do still have times when eating is really hard. It almost feels like it’s completely automatic, if something bad happens, I don’t want to eat, and I want to lose weight to deal with it and I get attacked by intrusive eating disordered thoughts. Also, I sometimes go through periods of struggling with the fact I feel fat and how much weight I’ve gained since recovery. However, I’ve learnt to accept that part of my eating disorder will always be there. Recovery is, still sometimes having these thoughts (Although they won’t be as intrusive, and you certainly won’t have them 24/7 anymore!), but with the ability to not listen to them anymore. Recovery will give you the tools to be able to do that. My brain wants me to not eat at difficult times, but actually my body really needs me to eat to get through it, and if I eat and am a healthy weight, I can play video games and do art to the best of my ability, and I really cannot do that when I don’t eat. I cannot be me when I don’t eat, I cannot be me at a lower weight. My eating disorder was never my identity, it was my illness which I’ve worked hard to get better from, and now I am me, and my likes and interests keep me going. When things are tough, I remind myself how horrible it was to have an ED, I remind myself of the symptoms I’ve mentioned in this post, and eventually, the bad patch goes away, and I’ll stop thinking I’m fat, and I’ll carry on not caring about what I look like and I’ll again want to eat pizza, because pizza is so awesome. My diaries are now full of actual things instead of numbers. Numbers don’t reflect who I am as a person anymore, although actually, they never really did.

 

 

10 Years of Being Your Mummy.

tenyearsthisone

Dearest Little One,
Happy Birthday! Ten years old! I want to tell you a little story about being your Mummy. Before I had you, I never thought that I could love someone as much as I love you but I loved you before I even met you.

20weekscanThis was the second time I saw you, and I could already tell how beautiful you were. I could feel it. They told me I was having a girl, but I already guessed, a little princess. Pregnancy was amazing, for the first time in my life, I loved my body, and I think it was because I felt beautiful because of you. Your beauty was emanating through my veins, and through my heart. I loved watching my bump grow, and I loved feeling you kick. You were a very active baby, and I used to play with you with sounds and light, because you could already see and hear, and you would play back by kicking me. My favourite part of pregnancy was when you had hiccups while the midwife was listening to your heartbeat, it was the cutest sound I have ever heard. I loved you so much already, and couldn’t imagine loving you even more than I did then, but I was wrong.

On the day you were born, after you kept me waiting 4 days for your arrival, I was bowled over by love. It was a kind of love that knocks you off your feet, but in the nicest possible way. You were the perfect little baby, and I couldn’t believe you were mine, because you were such a beautiful perfect tiny baby, with the reddest lips, tiny hands and tiny little toes. Little one, you made me cry tears of joy, it was as if the love filled me up so much, it had to be released through tears or I might have exploded like a creeper in Minecraft.

The first year of your time on this planet flew by remarkably fast, when I look back now it’s as though that year went by at lightspeed. You were a brilliant baby, never fussed or cried “too much”. I could take you anywhere, and people would be surprised at how good you were, they would approach me just to tell me how beautiful you were and how well behaved. You were always and are still remarkably clever for your age.

Caryspushchair

I loved pushing you in your pushchair. I’d take you to town to see Nannie on her lunch break, we also went to the park hundreds of times, and to the zoo. It feels like yesterday that I was carrying you in your pushchair down the stairs outside my flat, it’s really hard to believe that was ten years ago. I have a theory that you experience time differently when you have children, before I had you, ten years felt like an extremely long time, but the ten years you’ve been a part of my life have just flown by. I guess it’s really just Einsteins relativity though, because I’ve been happier since I’ve had you, so time has been passing quicker for me. At the same time that it doesn’t feel like ten years since I gave birth to you, when I look back at my life, I feel like you’ve always been a part of it. I feel like you’re the reason for my whole existence, and everything leading up to your birth happened just so I could bring you into the world. Earth is a better planet since your arrival on it, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re meant to be here, Earth needed you, I needed you, Nannie needed you, everyone needed you.

StarwarsrhiocarysIn the last few years, you’ve become your own person, independent of me. This transition you’ve been through has been absolutely amazing to watch. I feel like I love you more with everyday that passes, and you’ve become my best friend as well as my beautiful daughter. I love playing with you so much and when I do, I feel like I’m your age, and that we are best friends playing together. I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m actually your Mummy. You’ve grown into such a confident young lady, and I really love that you’re so strong in what you like and dislike. You have to like what you like and if it’s different from the “normal” that’s okay, because little one, there really isn’t a normal, and you need to like what you like because I’m sure that’s where happiness lies. I guess what I’m trying to say is, always, always be you, no matter what because you are awesome and I love you for who you are independent of myself. Other people will also love you for who you are, so that’s the person you need to be, you.

superctotherescue

 

Now, I know I’ve said that you’ve made me a happier person since you came into my world, but I know that you know that I’ve still been sad sometimes. I’ve told you about Mummy’s mental health, and you know that I sometimes get too sad and that it’s not your fault. However, I have still been a happier person since I met you, and you, little one, are the reason Mummy is doing so well right now. You are also the reason that Mummy doesn’t have an eating disorder anymore. I struggled with wanting to get better for myself, I felt as though I didn’t deserve to get better. I know this is a difficult thing for you to understand, but know that you are the reason I did get better, you are the reason Mummy works so hard everyday to get herself better. You are why she takes medication and does everything she needs to do to get better. I may have thought that I didn’t deserve to get better, but I knew you deserved to have a Mummy who would eat food with you and eat enough so that she wasn’t ill anymore. I’m sorry that you had to see me like that little one, but you saved me and not only that you helped me get better. When I was gaining weight, you hugged me and said,

“I love hugging you even more now Mummy, because you’re not so boney”.

You definitely are my superhero. When I have a depressive episode, like just recently, I get to a real low point, do you know who I see when I’m there? You, telling me how much you love me, and you give me the strength I need to fight until tomorrow, always. I think it’s awesome that you love comic books, I really think it’s because you are a superhero, so you like to read about other superheroes just like you.

Oh dearest little one, I love you so much always, and even when I am sad, you are the only one on this planet with the ability to make me smile through it. In fact, my nurses, when they’ve been here, and I’ve been crying, they get me to talk about you, and I smile, and they say that my face lights up just mentioning your name. They know too, how very special you are.

I hope you had the best birthday ever, and I can’t wait to see the kind of person you are ten years from now, I have a feeling that you’re going to be a very special adult.
Happy Birthday little one. My princess, my superhero, my beautiful daughter.

Love

Mummy
xxxxxxxx

 

 

 

[Comic] – Recovery is…

Recovery isThis is certainly the case for me anyway.
It kind of lurks in the back of my broken brain, waiting. So I ignore any eating disordered thoughts I have, and have learnt to deal with the fact that they’ll probably always be there. It gets easier to ignore over time, there are days when things are tough, but there are days when I don’t have any ED thoughts at all.

Comic drawn on pixelmator for Mac.