If I Were To Get Well…

This week my psychologist and I spoke about if I were to get well and what it would look like and my fears around it and to be totally honest I can’t remember what it’s like to be well. It has been over a decade of illness and nearly two years since I came into hospital after a handful of shorter admissions.

If I really try to imagine it I imagine a ‘well’ life to be quite good. I wouldn’t be in hospital and I’d be at home again with my family and my dog. I’d bake and cook meals and snacks for myself, I have hoards of recipes saved for when I get better and I can’t wait to try them out. I would enjoy eating, an idea that seems incredibly alien to me right now. I would go to ballet and help out with the younger classes. I would go to the beach with my friends and laugh the night away at karaoke. I’d watch telly with my family and go to the cinema with my dad. I’d play on the 2p machines at Barry Island with my mum. I would have my freedom back and I could go on walks alone, just my iPad and me. I’d experience new things, new foods, new places. I would live instead of exist. I would be able to be an adult although that absolutely terrifies me.

Everything about getting well is full of uncertainty and it completely overwhelms me. I’m scared to eat again, it’s been nearly a year since food passed my lips and it terrifies me to think of the day I have to put it in my mouth again. I don’t even know how my stomach would physically handle solid food after so long. I’m scared of the taste and texture and ‘greasy’ feeling food gives me. I’m scared to gain weight, to be fatter than I am now. I’m scared that none of my clothes would fit me. I’m scared that being bigger would make me hate myself even more than I already do. I’m scared of the responsibilities that come with life, I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m scared of the day another of my loved ones dies, it feels unbearable to think about my mother and father dying. I don’t even think I could handle my dog dying. I need to reintegrate back into society and that scares me, even the thought of standing in a supermarket aisle terrifies me at the moment because I am so used to these four walls. I also worry that I wouldn’t have anything to blog about. My whole social media outlet is centered by mental illness and if I were to get well then where would that leave me? I’m not sure that I know who I am without all of this and the thought of being an adult terrifies me. I might be in my twenties but I don’t feel ready for that yet. What would I do for a career, I mean I don’t even have A levels, would I have to go back and study? A recovered future is full of questions. If I were to get well then I wouldn’t have a mental health team around me, these people I have known for years will not be in my life anymore and that really scares me.

I want a normal life, a recovered life but I’m not sure that it’s possible and that makes me feel a bit torn when it comes to recovery. Part of me wants to really give it a shot but the other part wants to give up and die and I can’t say which side is winning at the moment although it is probably the latter.

Pro-Ana? Pro-Life! An Update

I spoke at Ignite in the Glee Club in Cardiff in 2015. My talk was about anorexia and challenging the ideals the pro-ana community puts on anorexia with the dark reality of anorexia. At the time of the talk I was in a good place. My diet was still very restrictive, I was not a healthy weight and I still struggled but I was living my life too. I was on a high. I went out and experienced life, I went on TV and radio, I began writing for The Huffington Post. The talk got a great reception and I received Ignite’s first ever standing ovation. You can watch the talk here. I feel very differently now to how I did in the video so I thought I would do an update.

In my speech, I talk about how fatal anorexia can be and I can honestly hold my hands up and say that anorexia nearly killed me in December 2016. There was a point when I didn’t know if I would even reach Christmas Day. My bloods were all over the place, my heart was a mess and my weight was dangerously low.

In the video I say, “I didn’t sleep, I was addicted to laxatives and exercise” and ‘was’ was so important because I had overcome that but now I find myself asking for movicol and senna all the time and I take as many laxatives as the hospital allows me to and I know full well that if I was at home I would take more. My laxative addiction is back. It’s hard to exercise in hospital, I’m not really allowed to and I use a wheelchair to go everywhere but I find myself walking to the bin, or my stuff, or the sink as much as possible in order to burn a few calories. Burning off calories is always at the front of my mind.

I also say, “I wanted to die” and I wish I could fill you up with positivity and still be able to say that but now I would have to say, “I want to die” because I do. I’m in such a mess with anorexia and every single second of the day I wish I could press the stop button. I have received and am still receiving life saving care but I wish they would just let me die and escape this nightmare for good.

I was able to say, “I have anorexia, anorexia doesn’t have me” but this is now the other way around. Anorexia has me fully in it’s grips and I don’t know who the hell I am or even where to find me. “I am not worthless, I am Claire and life is what I make it” are words I can not say anymore,I feel incredibly worthless, like I’m a waste of resources. I don’t feel like Claire, I am not the same person now that I was in that video. I find it hard to believe that life is what I make it, my life feels incredibly out of control.

The comments in regards to pro-ana remain the same, my weight will never be low enough for me to be content and I cannot see how ill I am told I am. I do not feel thin but I’m told I’m dangerously underweight.

My message remains the same, anorexia is not something to strive for, mental illnesses are not fashion accessories and I am waiting on that minute that is going to change my life again.

Update 16/02/17

I just had a meeting with my psychiatrist, nurse practitioner and eating disorder nurse and I think it was positive. I felt supported by them and safe in their care and I felt listened to too. They have a multi disciplinary meeting about me every Friday so most decisions will be made tomorrow.
They wanted to weigh me and initially I refused because I believed I had gained loads of weight but then I allowed them to. They said it had dropped but I believe it maintained. I feel a bit less panicky and suicidal now I know my weight and it isn’t what I thought it was in my head. It just goes to show how much anorexia confuses the mind.
They’ve increased some of my medication but most of the decisions around ensures and leaves etc will be made in an MDT meeting tomorrow.

They also discussed the possibility of moving to a different hospital until I go to cygnet in May but I would rather stay where I am.
I also put requests in to see my dog and go out for my birthday. There’s a guide dog on the ward at the moment and it’s so nice to be able to be around and fuss a dog again.

I’ve really struggled the past few days but after our meeting I’m feeling a lot calmer and more okay about everything.

It’s Scary Getting Well

I’m by no means well. I’m typing this in a general hospital bed with a tube up my nose and two members of staff arms length from me but I’m better than I was. Yes, the slight bit of betterness was due to being forced into treatment (sectioned, force fed and having medication forced upon me) but I still am better than I was and I’m finding this whole thing really scary.

I can now sit up on my own for a good length of time, I can concentrate enough to read a book a chapter at a time, I can walk to the toilet with assistance, I can just about wash myself…these are all things I couldn’t do when I arrived on this general ward in December. Whilst it’s nice that I can do these things, it scares me. Without getting a little better I wouldn’t be able to type this post.

It’s scary because I don’t feel ready to be better, to live a well life and have a healthy body. It’s scary because life scares me, responsibility, finances, relationships, careers…the list of fears is endless and getting better means facing all of these things.

I’m used to feeling poorly, I had got used to the weak, frail, dying body I was in. I wouldn’t say I liked it but I was used to it and the change in health (whilst still not great) feels somewhat uncomfortable. I can’t get used to being able to do a fair amount of things by myself. I’m not sure why but I don’t like it and it really, really scares me. I want to go backwards to where I was in December and I know I shouldn’t want that but I do and maybe that’s what this illness does, I don’t know. I just know that I’m scared and confused and hugely uncomfortable.

Footsteps Outside My Door

It’s that time of day when my feed is normally due. The nurse is doing her medication rounds and I don’t know when she is coming to me. I am on edge. Distracted. Distant. Every time I hear footsteps outside my door I am thrown into panic and my heart races. I don’t want to do this. I’m so uncomfortable in my body as I am let alone with more calories being pumped into me. I need the control back, I wish they would give me some. I have no choice, I can drink the ensure, or have it put down my NG tube willingly or I can be restrained whilst the thick, calorific liquid is pumped into me…but I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all. I’ve had enough today and I feel that as an adult I should be able to control what goes into my body. I’m just so scared. I want to be left alone.

Being Tube Fed

Right now I’m laying in a hospital bed with an NG tube up my nose. I have no choice in it, it isn’t just an NG tube but an NG bridle meaning it’s tied to the bone at the back of my nose so I can’t pull it out. I have no choice but to be fed, I’m on a Section 3.

Five times a day the nurse comes in with a bottle of feed and syringes it down my tube whilst two people hold my arms. I feel out of control, as though recovery and weight gain are being forced upon me…which I guess they are.

I dread feed time, the moment I see the bottle my heart races. Watching her pour the gloopy, milky liquid into the cup engulfs me with panic. Then seeing that liquid being sucked up the syringe makes me nauseous. I want to runaway, I want everything to stop. Then the syringe gets attached to my NG tube and the thick liquid glides through the syringe, through the tube and into my stomach. I can’t feel it. I can’t taste it. It makes me want to tear my skin off. It makes me want to be sick. I hold in my tears throughout the whole process.

Afterwards I feel so uncomfortable, I can feel the rolls of fat on my belly and my double chin, my thighs thick as tree trunks. I fear the weight gain and I have no choice but to sit there and go through it. There’s nothing I can do about it and that’s what scares me most. I’m not in control.

Time To Talk Day

Today is Time To Talk day 2017 so take 5 minutes to talk about mental health. It is so important that we get these conversations going because they can save lives as well as working to stamp out stigma.

This Time To Talk day, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I’m spending it. I’m currently in a general hospital being tube fed for my anorexia, I’m on 2:1 observations meaning I have two members of staff with me at all times and I’m on a level 4 which means I must be within arms length of the staff members, this includes when using the toilet. So there the facts about my situation but now it’s time to talk about how I feel.

I’m confused, recovery and weight restoration is being forced on me and I’m not sure that I want it. I’m scared about the future, my team are looking for a unit to send me to and so far none have accepted me. I don’t know what the near future holds for me. I’m homesick, I haven’t been home in 18 months and I would give anything to sit on the sofa with my family and dog and watch some rubbish telly. I feel alone and lost, I haven’t seen many people in the last 18 months and my grandmother has passed away during that time, I never got to say goodbye, I wasn’t well enough to go to her funeral and that breaks my heart everyday. I’m annoyed and angry at myself for losing out on so much. My goddaughter will be 3 in March and I’ve missed so much of her growing up, my dog is 14 and I’m scared she will die before I get home.

I have conversations about mental health every single day because I am unwell, but you don’t have to be ill to talk about mental health. We all have mental health, so please this Time To Talk Day 2017, take 5 minutes to ask someone how they are, send a text, natter over a cuppa, get the conversation going about mental health.

Happy Time To Talk Day everyone!