This post is going to contain a lot of pretty huge triggers. Weight talk, ED talk, TMI (bowel motion stuff, so click away if you are easily queasy! But honesty is the only way for me to go here. And to be honest, I have to be completely honest. Partially ‘honest’ doesn’t actually count.
If you are not in a place where it’s safe for you in any way to read something that could be upsetting or triggering – please click away now. If you want to know what the post was about, I can tell you in more G rated wording via email if that’s what you would like, just drop me a comment on any other post, or email me if you have my address.
Still being honest – I really hate having to write this. I wanted to be a source of hope and to show people that no matter how far you fall, you can still get back up again – because that is what I did. And kept doing, for all my life. Hoping that someone else who believed it was impossible to ever come through a nightmare such as this and out the other side safe, okay, and able to actually LIVE, might see that I was actually getting there myself and give themselves another chance. Because when we give up, I think that’s the beginning of the end. Hope is so important to LIFE. It really is essential – without it, you go nowhere.
I don’t think I’m relapsing – hence the title of this post. But I do feel like I’m dangling on the precipice. I need to be very, very careful. Or I could absolutely lose my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I came down with the flu. It knocked me about, really did a number on me. Since then, I’ve never quite been able to get back to how I was with eating, with purging, with how my body actually just seems to handle food. And I have to admit, before the flu happened, I’ve always been hanging on by a thread – I’ve made no secret of the fact that I do still struggle big time with restricting and purging, and with the bingeing and purging. (Oh God I hate Anorexia, I hate Bulimia. And I hate having them both. One should be enough!) And yet, something was different, far different than for all the years before this. I managed to maintain my weight, managed to stay out of hospital for the longest period of time ever, and have been working hard at returning function and FUN to my life!
However, I’ve long felt that my weight being stable for 2 years and 3 months was a fluke. Well my fluke is over. I’ve actually been ‘watching’ what’s happened with interest at the same time as I’ve lived this. Watching with fear, too. That fear that we feel when our mind says many different things and pulls in all different directions. Where nobody can win because it means somebody has to lose. One of the scariest things about living with Anorexia Type II has been the sheer power that my own mind can have over me, how powerless it can make me feel, and how unable to save myself when [insert sarcasm here!] ‘all I have to do’ is put food in, and not take the food out again.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve dropped about four kilograms, (8.82 pounds) without trying to lose weight or doing anything different really. I’ve always had huge shifts of fluid – chronic oedema problems will do that to you, but this isn’t oedema, this is weight. You can feel the difference when it’s weight as compared to oedema. This is not critical, it’s easily regained, but it’s left me mentally, emotionally, and physically walking that fine line – I don’t feel safe in any of those ways any more. The little bit of extra weight did big things for my ability to think and to be more rational, it also made a big difference to my physical health. I still weigh a lot more than when I used to be discharged from hospital most times – so please don’t think I’m lost – I’m not. I’m not lost, as long as I grab hold of this and steer back in the right direction right now.
Back when I used to lose huge amounts of weight pretty much immediately after being discharged from most hospital admissions, most of it seemed to come off in the first few days. And always, always, my body seemed to announce it’s weight-dropping with (okay, TMI here, sorry, but how else can I say it?) a humungous going-to-the-toilet. I did nothing to bring it on, and I do wonder if perhaps being out of hospital and moving around a bit more rather than bedrested stimulated things. But I’d suddenly get urgent pains and have to go to the toilet – NOW. Oh crap, I’m going to shit my pants in a minute urgency. And then, it would feel like my entire insides were pouring out of me. I would just sit there and, ahem, poo and poo and poo. It just wouldn’t stop coming. I would seriously start to worry about blocking the toilet where ever I was, perhaps blocking the entire city’s sewer system and causing a state emergency. And then, when it was over, I’d sit there, limp, exhausted, feeling like a hollowed out skin. If I wasn’t home, I’d begin to panic because even getting up off the toilet suddenly required more energy and strength than I had. I’d never get that strength back, or the kilos that one long crap dumped from my body. From there, it was always down, down, down, yet again.
I still think it’s ironic how this happened every time I then lost weight – because in more ways than one, my life was actually going down the toilet.
Well, this did not happen after my last hospital admission. Whatever was different, my insides stayed in me, where people’s insides are meant to be. I did have problems with IBS like symptoms – the period of such severe constipation I was investigated for possible bowel obstruction, and the bouts of diarrhoea without any known cause (I have not used laxatives for years unless you count the medically prescribed movicol when I had the constipation – which didn’t work either. In fact, I’ve not touched the coloxyl that the hospital sent home with me after my last discharge) (WTF hospital ED ward, sending ED patients home with coloxyl?). The diarrhoea was nothing like the huge dumps – my actual insides always seemed to stay in me. (Does this even make sense? What a shitty paragraph haha.)
Oh dear. Crap. I can’t resist a lame pun, can I?
Anyway, to cut a long story short, not only have I suddenly started dropping weight, but a long crap happened. And it reminded me just how scary those long craps are to sit through (shit through?) because of how they make you feel, and how hard they are to recover from.
Okay – end poo talk! If you are still with me, you deserve a medal!
I cannot believe I’m sitting here telling the WORLD about my bowel habits. My mother would be so proud of me.
So, where to now?
Life is seriously overwhelming. And exhausting. Today, I saw my headshrink doctor, and had a bit of a “Wake up, Fiona!” from him. He sat me down and opened up the session with “You’ve lost weight” followed by a lecture about how nobody but myself could rescue me, that losing weight was dangerous and would kill me, that I would never deal with my past by going back that way (he’s right). Headshrink said to me, “Your past is very complicated. You have Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Complex. You have never up until recent years not known abuse. There was no break between one situation and the next. You went from childhood abuse and neglect, and torture, while being ostracised and bullied at school, straight into being abused and tortured by Wanker, and straight from there into years of torture at hospital.” Yes, he actually said that – torture at hospital. And again, he’s right. He said that it’s not likely that I will ever recover from my past – I never had a chance to form any other views of the world other than that it was abusive, and when I got finally free from that, I took over abusing my own self. He’s right yet again – and I wish he wasn’t.
The past is what haunts me the most – and what drives my eating disorder. Starving has been a volume switch on the memories and the pain. Bingeing stuffs the feelings and memories down, especially those of my mother’s cruelty around food. Purging happens because I feel just so dirty and foul inside.
I have never known what it’s like to not feel like a horrible person. I still expect people to loathe me on sight, to instantly pick me as inferior and just, bad. This means I constantly battle social anxiety and deep feelings of shame.
I know there are people out there who say – JUST GET OVER IT. Put it behind you, and move on. And they have to be the most ignorant of all ignoramuses – because you cannot just get over something like what I lived. You cannot. You cannot just put it behind you and move on (and I tried that – first with throwing myself into life and pretending that none of it hurt me or affected me, then with every new permutation of eating disorder, over-exercise and obsession – and look where it’s gotten me). In fact, I don’t know what I actually can do. I don’t know if it’s actually possible for me to heal from it. Perhaps it’s possible for me to reach a place of acceptance and healing where I’m able to exist on a day to day basis without being in excruciating emotional pain – and that will be a blessed relief. I’m happy if that’s what I could achieve. But totally healed? As Headshrink said today and I’ve long suspected – just not possible.
In recent weeks, my search for a new Headshrink catalysed current Headshrink and my GP putting their heads together and finding a psychologist who does trauma work. In Australia, you can get five visits to a psychologist per year under Medicare if you have a mental health care plan – so we spent hours yesterday doing one up for this, and now I will book the appointments. Headshrink wants me to take the appointments fairly close together for an intense period of trauma therapy – and we will see how I go. In return, I’m not leaving him and defecting to a knew, unknown Headshrink after all. Trauma therapy was what I wanted. And it’s now what I’m getting. I hope, HOPE it helps.
I also don’t believe that I can fully recover from my eating disorder. I’ve long suspected it. I DO believe that recovery is possible. It is entirely possible. I have friends who have gone from being extremely sick for years with eating disorders to completely recovered today – to a point where food does not bother them, weight does not bother them, the ED negative screaming voice does not bother them. They actually are LIVING and HAPPY and ED doesn’t have a place in their lives any more. So it’s possible. And just because I no longer believe in it for me – does NOT mean it’s not possible for anyone else. Every single one of us comes from a different background, with different genetic make-up, different support structures, different lives. No two people with ED are the same. So it’s entirely possible that you can recover, even if someone else cannot.
Tetyana from Science Of EDs Blog said it best in this thread on the F.E.A.S.T Facebook group. (If you are not a member of this Facebook group, please click here to see the cut and pasted thread)I absolutely recommend reading this thread – it’s HUGE, but it’s one of the most interesting, enlightening discussions I have ever read on eating disorders, on the possibility of recovery, and the causes. Tetyana said:
“..I don’t think you need co-morbid conditions, or trauma, or anything like that, per se. Whatever triggers it, in my opinion, is whatever it is that leads the individual to “discover” that restricting is either anxiolytic, or eating food is anxiety-provoking. I do think that co-morbid conditions, and this has been shown in the literature, make recovery harder. That’s why I don’t think it is fair to say everyone can recovery 100% in the sense of being free from the mental aspects of the disorder. Regarding how many genes are involved, oh, I have no idea, I was throwing around random numbers just for scale…”
So it’s different for us all. Some of us can recover fully. Some of us will not be able to – but that is no reason to give up. People live with serious illness every where. People manage Diabetes, for instance, and can manage to live fully and happily despite it if they manage all aspects of their health properly. I’ve been told for years by most of my treatment people that management is really what my best hope is – but I’ve often rejected that. Now I see that they are most likely right.
I’m just not going to give up – in case any of us were wrong!
I’m still going to keep on going with trying to fight this. I’ve been fighting slipping back into my old patterns of not eating or drinking at all until 8pm-ish, then my dinner turning into a binge and purge. No more. And and I’m not going to let this rob me of my chance to actually have a life not completely full of ED stuff. I’m still doing ballet - and loving it. And my tentative trial of volunteer work went well, I’m now going to be working on a weekly basis. And what an opportunity it is – I truly am beginning to think it was meant to be. What better place for someone who is so lacking in confidence and skills to volunteer than with people who help women with just these issues every single day? Lucky me.
I also managed to finish my painting in the art workshop I’ve been doing for the past few months – this was something I really struggled to attend, especially given that I never knew from one week to the next what I was even painting – I sat in front of that canvas and felt clueless, scared, blank, and I hated whatever I’d done on it. It changed hugely from one week to the next – from orange to purple to red and blue in the mountains, from a daytime setting to the middle of the night, from being a seascape to being a landscape with no water at all! But I finished. And on Thursday this week my painting is in the exhibition and silent auction we were preparing for. I’m so happy. Here is a sneak peek:Rotten photo – sorry. But I was pretty pressed for time!
So I’m fighting again. And hopefully, letting everyone know how much I’m struggling will help me by keeping me honest about it. It’s easy to hide your struggles on the internet. Hopefully I will have some far more positive news to report next time I talk about how I’m going.
Thank you for reading – I really appreciate all of you who read, who comment, who lurk, who CARE. You are all just awesome.