A memory sprung to mind the other day thinking back to when I was first involved in eating disorder services. I was given a questionnaire to fill out and one of the questions on it was, “Does your eating disorder make you feel you can have your cake and eat it too?” And I just think now how inappropriate and insensitive that question was. There was surely a better way to word it, it almost seems as though someone was having a joke at patients expense.
Okay so it’s coming to the end of my second day at Cygnet and so far it has been really difficult but today was definitely an improvement on yesterday. I’m struggling with feed being increased and no fizzy drinks and there have been a number of incidents but I really hated it here yesterday and today I feel like I can manage so it’s probably just a case of settling in. Time on my phone is limited though so updates probably won’t happen very often.
Easter with an eating disorder can be extremely difficult, just like Christmas if not harder. This year whilst I’m stuck in hospital being tube fed I won’t have to face any Easter eggs or family feasts which is a relief in a way but it also makes me feel sad. I wish I could join in with the world and celebrate. I wish I could be around my family and go for a nice Easter walk. I wish I could taste chocolate on my tongue. I wish I could tuck into a roast…but even when I’ve been home Easter has been a challenge.
Just like any other celebrations, birthday, Christmas and Easter became days I tried to give myself ‘off’ from my eating disorder but of course you can’t just have a day off from a mental illness. Generally suffering from anorexia means my diet is restrictive but on these days I would almost give myself permission to eat and with the mixture of excitement, fear, extreme hunger and excuse my language but ‘fuck it’ attitude I would end up binging. I would be scared of the Easter eggs I’d received and would want them out the way so I’d eat them all and then physically and mentally I’d end up feeling rubbish. But it wouldn’t just last one day, it’d last weeks. It’d trigger a splurge of binging and everyday I’d be cramming all the food I could find into my mouth. Easter would ‘ruin’ a restrictive intake and my weight would increase to a number and size I was uncomfortable with. One tiny day would make me spiral out of control for weeks to come. What was meant to be a happy celebration would become a nightmare.
I hope that next year I do get to have a happy Easter. I hope I’m home for it and that I can eat a cadburys creme egg and an Easter egg and have lunch with my family before going for a walk in the fresh Spring air.
I would like to wish all my followers a happy Easter and I truly hope it is a happy Easter. I send you all my best wishes and hope the day doesn’t bring trauma and fear to you.
Building a life worth living is a big part of DBT and it’s something I haven’t worked on much or even thought about until recently. I’ve been unwell for well over a decade and have been in hospital for a year and a half. I’ve never been a mentally well adult and have not been able to function at a normal level since school. For these reasons I have always found it very difficult to think of a life outside of my illness and in some ways that can hold me back in recovery. However just weeks before I’m due to go to a specialist unit which can help me I have an idea of how life will look when I come out of hospital.
I know I won’t come home fully recovered and jumping with the joys of spring but I imagine I’ll be able to function. I want to attend outpatient appointments with my mental health team but alongside that I want to work in a bakery, go to ballet classes, help out with the younger ballet classes and prepare and cook my own meals and snacks from scratch. I could then channel my obsession with food down a productive and enjoyable route whilst still enjoying dance and exercise at a sensible level.
If I can maintain that lifestyle for a while then the next step will be learning to drive and getting a place of my own even if that’s renting a studio flat. Then the next step, and the one I’m most excited about will be becoming a mother. I’ve already decided for very personal reasons that I want to be single so I will go to a clinic and use a sperm donor to conceive.
I think it is good to go to this new unit with an image of what I want my life to look like when I come home. So this is me thinking of building a life worth living.
I dreamt of food last night. I had eaten three quarters of a flump and I popped the last bit in my mouth without a thought before heading to the shop with my mum to buy bits for a picnic and then it hit me that I had eaten and I instantly regretted it. I woke up in a panic. Was it real? Had I eaten? I was shaking, full of fear and total panic.
I hate this illness, sleep is not even an escape from it anymore.
This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I will be blogging, tweeting and instagramming all this week. Don’t forget to take your #SockItSelfie and post with the hashtag to raise awareness. Eating disorders can and will be beaten.
Something I have discovered in all my years of anorexia is that the moment people know they somehow think its appropriate to talk about dieting, weight loss and going to the gym. Let me tell you this…I don’t want to hear it and I’m sure anyone else suffering from an eating disorder doesn’t want to hear it.
How is it helpful to discuss which foods are sinful, to talk about grapes being ‘fatty’ at slimming world whilst they are marked as the healthy option on the hospital menu. How do you think this conflicting information is going to help someone already living in a world of confusion? Anorexia is enough, I don’t need other people to tell me about foods being bad or fatty or sinful. I don’t need to be told that people eat junk and that’s why they get fat.
I’m struggling enough with anorexia alone. Yes, I have an eating disorder, yes I am obsessed with food, yes I think about weight and shape all the time but that doesn’t give you an invitation to join in with my illness. The number of staff that sit with me on my 2:1 observations and discuss their diets, weight loss, gym regimes and opinions on food you would not believe. I’ve even had someone ask me for tips on weight loss. It’s just not appropriate and it needs to stop.
A common misconception about anorexia and eating disorders is that people suffering from these illnesses avoid food at all costs and don’t want to talk about food. The truth is, the majority of sufferers are obsessed with food. Talking from personal experience I know I am.
I spend hours each day scrolling through pictures of food on instagram. I read food magazines and recipe books. When the staff sat with me get their food out I need to see what it is and I want to inhale the smell of it. I enjoy watching people eat and when I’ve been at home or on the acute ward I have spent a lot of time baking.
I love to be around food, I think about it constantly. I am utterly pre-occupied with food. You wouldn’t think it regarding my diagnosis of anorexia nervosa but I love food.
Four weeks today it will be my Birthday and I will still be here on a general ward being tube fed with two staff either side of me. I’ve asked for leave, to go out for the day and I don’t know if that will happen but even if it does I will still wake up a year older in my hospital bed. I will still go to sleep that night on a ward instead of at home. I will most likely still have staff with me if I go out and I will be in a wheelchair.
It makes me feel sad that I’m spending yet another birthday in hospital. It symbolises another wasted year that has flown by. It’s another Birthday with sad memories attached to it like the Birthday I couldn’t stop crying and the day out in London that was ruined by body image and obsessive body checking. The Birthday I overdosed on. There will be no Birthday cake yet again this year because I’m too terrified to be around it let alone eat it.
Years are flying by, the clock is ticking and I am wasting it all to mental illness. So many Birthdays have passed where I’ve been unwell. So many years spent stuck in this whirlwind and I still can’t find my way out. I wonder if next year I’ll be home and if I’ll be able to celebrate my birthday normally with friends, going out, eating cake but I still see myself being in the unit in Coventry miles from home.
The prospect of spending another Birthday in hospital is overall quite upsetting.
Eating disorder awareness week is fast approaching and this year the focus is on early intervention. Eating disorder week is from the 27th February to the 5th of March and Sock It To Eating Disorders Day is Friday 3rd of March. You can order your socks from Beat the eating disorder charity here
I will be blogging throughout the week and of course I’ll be wearing my Beat socks, don’t forget to use the hashtag #SockItSelfie
I’m going to try and get the nurses to join in and wear their silly socks. I will find a way to raise awareness even if it is from my hospital bed. In previous years I’ve climbed mountains for Beat but this year I’ll do my best in the situation I am in.
You can donate to Beat here