but still, like air, i’ll rise

20160503-IMG_1088in the immediate aftermath of my rape, i climbed into my bed and pulled the duvet over my head. my rapist was still in my flat, fast asleep in the next room on the sofa where he’d raped me. (i should probably throw in an ‘allegedly’ here given that the cps decided – after nearly two years of considering it – that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him). nearly a decade on, i still have a tendency to retreat to my bed when the outside world feels all too overwhelming. it’s where i’ve spent most of the weekend alternately bingeing and trying to lose myself in a crappy thriller that i picked up in the supermarket yesterday.

i have lived and re-lived the hours and minutes and seconds leading up to the rape a million times. every time, i identify the moments where i think i could have changed the outcome. i torture myself with those moments and then punish myself for what i did and didn’t do. i know this is a common trap that people fall into (‘hindsight bias’, i am told) but that doesn’t make it any easier to move on from. i crave being told that it wasn’t my fault (which is what i would tell anyone else) and that i am not responsible for what my rapist did (which i know is true) but acknowledging that means that i also have to acknowledge that i had no control over the situation. and so i still spend every hour of every day, trying to exert control over the only aspect of my life that i can; food.

for the last six months, it’s been very effective. in the first meeting with my new (although not so new anymore) psychiatrist at the start of february, i said that i was pretty sure i was over the trauma and the ptsd. i think we both know now that’s very far from the case. i may be able to get on the tube without freaking out these days but there are far more insidious manifestations of the trauma that i’m only just beginning to understand.

over the past few weeks both my psychiatrist and therapist have talked often about the anorexic-me vs the healthy-me. we’ve done some schema work where the two different parts of me talk to each other (and i get very confused – it’s the kind of thing that i am terrible at; when i started doing cbt work with my old therapist, i got very hung up on whether i was using the right form of the present tense and got myself tangled in all sorts of linguistic knots). clearly, the idea is that the healthy-me is supposed to (eventually) tell the anorexic-me to fuck off.

yesterday, as i burrowed under the duvet to try and hide from the relentless flashbacks that were assaulting me, i realised something. the anorexic-me wasn’t raped. the healthy-me was. when i’m anorexic-me – by which i mean, that me that is eating a couple of hundred calories a day, doing hours of yoga/as many steps as possible and seeing the scale go down every day – i’m not a rape victim / survivor / whatever you want to call it. but when i eat, either a healthy three meals a day or the bingeing which i’ve often used to block out my feelings about the rape, i’m all of those things. and i don’t want to be any of them. but somehow, i’m going to need to accept that i am.

{title quotation from still i rise by maya angelou}

god, how i ricochet between certainty and doubt

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i started writing a blog post on friday afternoon. it was full of positivity. i’d eaten breakfast and lunch. i’d made an appointment with our fertility clinic to discuss next steps. it felt like something had clicked into place and that i was going to beat the eating disorder. i was even considering cancelling tomorrow’s appointment with a nutritionist because who needs that? i was feeling pretty fucking good.

and then, somewhere between the stress of eating in a restaurant, a difficult session with my psychiatrist and the realisation that i am nowhere near at peace with the underlying cause of (this bout of) my eating disorder, it all went a bit to shit.

i sat at dinner on friday night in one of my favourite restaurants, too anxious to be able to let go of my husband’s hand under the table. every ptsd-battered synapse in my brain was screaming at me to run. but i couldn’t because we were out with some extended family and i had to be polite. by the time we finally managed to escape into our cab home, the anxiety was overwhelming. my therapist has given me all sorts of techniques to try and manage the anxiety but when i’m in the middle of the storm, i feel like i can’t do anything other than give into it. and so, when we got home, i waited until my husband fell asleep and then binged on anything i could find. anything that would make me feel something other than that crippling anxiety.

and that’s really set the pattern for the weekend. the sense of being out of control on friday night – both of my environment and of myself – spilled over into a saturday which alternated between restricting and bingeing and, just to top it off, some laxative abuse. because what else are saturday nights for? i’m sure at some point i used to have some kind of life that didn’t look like this shambles.

today i’ve tried to get some control back the only way that i know how. by not eating. this morning, i cooked brunch. avocado toast (because we like to pretend we are millennials) with crisp rashers of streaky bacon and some imperfectly fried eggs (in my defence, it was actually my first time frying an egg). and then i didn’t eat anything. instead, i ignored the messages from my psychiatrist pleading with me to eat and tidied up the spare bedroom because, clearly, when all else fails, i can tidy (i’m aware that this is just another way to impose control).

i wish i knew why i woke up on friday feeling certain that i was strong enough to beat this. and why i woke up this morning and couldn’t even find the strength to eat the miserly portion if yoghurt i usually let myself have. and i really wish i knew when i was next going to have a moment of believing that i can actually do this.

{title quotation from sylvia plath}

my doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. unless there are three other people.

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very briefly yesterday, i had a flash of what it felt like to be ‘normal’.

my parents came round for sunday lunch to mark mother’s day. we had champagne to start and then sat down to twice cooked chicken with chilli sauce and kaffir lime leaf salt (more delicious than anything with such a pretentious title deserves). with it, we had wild rice and green beans and crisp broccoli, roasted with garlic and ginger. and i ate. and i wasnt anxious about eating. that is mainly because i had cooked everything and i’m sure that the champagne helped (as it always does) but still, it felt like a step forward.

and then, because i’d eaten and, paradoxically, not felt guilty about eating, i decided to make myself feel guiilty by punishing myself with a binge. it wasn’t a massive binge – nowhere near the scale of friday’s – but it was a deliberate and conscious act intended to remind me that i’m worthless and don’t deserve to enjoy anything.

one thing that my eating disorder has shown me is how central food is to my life and how, without it, my world has become so limited. i’ve used a litany of excuses after the last few months to avoid social situations where i will be expected to eat. when i’ve had no choice – generally because my mother has mandated my attendance somewhere – the anxiety that it has provoked in me has rendered me unable to focus on anything else. how can i engage with other people when i’m so consumed by what’s on (or not on) the plate in front of me?

i’ve never really been comfortable eating in front of other people, immediate family aside. i can trace this back to the very start of my disordered eating habits; it’s the seed from which the last twenty years of restricting and bingeing has grown. i never ate lunch at school. the anorexic voice in my head (which i didn’t recognise or acknowledge as being that at the time) told me that anyone who saw me eat lunch would automatically think that i was fat and greedy. even though i know (and knew) that people are generally far too self-absorbed to really give that much thought to what anyone else is eating. i think this is relatively common with eating disorders; when you spend most of your time thinking about food and what you, and everyone else, is eating, you expect other people to do the same.

clearly now, the idea of eating anything in front of anybody other than my husband or parents is too terrifying to contemplate but i can also see that, even when i’ve been ‘healthy’ (ie not now), this anxiety has both limited and also dominated my life; even simple things like choosing my food in a restaurant based on what i think other people think i should be eating rather than what i actually want to eat.

so when i think about what ‘recovery’ might be like for me, i realise that actually, i don’t know because i’ve never been there. yes, there have been long stretches of time when the eating disorder has been quiet but i’ve always felt its presence, just waiting for me to slip up and fall back into its arms. and, frankly, the idea of not having it there anymore is simply bloody terrifying.

{title quotation attributed to orson welles}

every morning, for every human being, is in some sort a morning after the night before

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last night was not a whole lot of fun. for the first time in my life, i ended up eating so much that i was sick. not deliberately sick but self-induced all the same. i ended up going to bed at 7.30pm leaving my husband to fend for himself all evening. this meant that i woke up at 4am this morning so now my body clock is totally confused and doesn’t really have a clue what’s going on. i feel like i’ve got a hangover despite not having had a drink for a long time. i’m still feeling quite nauseous (did a quick 10 minute yoga flow and thought i might vom during a downward dog) and uncomfortably bloated. more than that, it feels like my whole body hurts and i’ve actually just emailed my doctor to ask if i’m okay to take some codeine for the pain or whether that’s a bad combo with the sertraline / diazepam / olanzapine because the naproxen that i’ve already taken isn’t touching it. mentally, i’m all over the place, my thoughts jumping around trying desperately to avoid thinking about the things that i don’t want to think about. and i’m feeling pretty sorry for myself.

but today is a new day.

it’s saturday and i can hear my husband moving around. although it’s raining, the temperature is mild enough that i need the balcony door open and all i can hear is birdsong. it’s starting to feel like spring is in the air although i mainly say that because my hayfever seems to have started up. our plans for the day include sorting out the little garden we’ve been trying to cultivate and painting one of the walls in our bedroom which has remained unpainted since we moved in 5 years ago. tomorrow my parents are coming for lunch and i’ve planned an ottolenghi feast from the nopi cookbook. on monday, we’re getting a new floor in our bedroom to replace the cheap carpet that was only ever meant to be there for a few months and on tuesday we’re getting a new bed with a super comfortable mattress delivered.

last night was a new low for me and the thought of feeling like that/this again is terrifying. bouncing between starvation and bingeing for the last couple of weeks has taken its toll. it isn’t the way that i want to live my life. if i thought anorexia was all consuming, this form of ‘recovery’ (which i know isn’t really any kind of recovery) is a hundred times worse. i’ll be honest and say that, for the immediate future, i think that i will be clinging even more strongly to the restrictive eating habits which make me feel safest: i’ve cleared the fridge, freezer and cupboards of the foods i’ve been hoarding to binge on (not that there was a huge amount left) and although i generally think that our bodies are perfectly able to detox themselves without any help, i’m definitely going to make sure i consume a lot of water today so that i can feel like i’m flushing out all the crap that’s floating around inside me (even if all it is really doing is making me wee a lot).

when i was in the throes of bingeing last night, i couldn’t see a future. today, i can. for the moment, that may involve making my peace with anorexia and letting it have its way but i’m hoping that, eventually, last night will be a turning point.

{title quotation from the slaves of solitude by patrick hamilton}

even the dust would be running away

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today i really want to run away from my life.

i had a challenging session with my psychiatrist today. i think, ultimately, it will be challenging in a good way but the fall out has been pretty intense.

after a rough few days of bingeing, laxative abuse (the glamour) and self-harm, i’d found a little bit of relief in my familiar patterns of restriction. my weight – the number which dominates my thoughts from the moment that i wake up to the moment i go to sleep – had been settling after yo-yo-ing around by half a stone or more.

and so, i was feeling more like myself. or, at least, more at peace with myself.

and then my psychiatrist asked me today what i think the future holds with and without anorexia and, fundamentally, which future i’d prefer. and i honestly couldn’t answer. i can recite the reasons why i should want to get better without pause but i can’t picture what that life looks like. i know it’s not sustainable to keep losing weight and that the only place that leads is a hospital but the idea of a ‘normal’ life that’s not dominated by my relationship with food feels further away than ever at the moment. even though i had many years of just that before this relapse.

so i came home and i binged. it’s over 5,000 calories so far and i’m not sure it’s finished even though i’m in so much pain that i can barely move.

i think we have broadly come to the conclusion that i’m not really ready to recover yet. or at least i don’t want it enough to change. all i want to do is to see that number on the scales go down and therefore not to feel like my entire world is crumbling around me; which it does at the moment.

i’m just so tired of this constant battle though. there aren’t even good days and bad days really anymore. they’re just days and each one seems like such a struggle.

{title quotation by ali smith}

that happy-go-lucky wandering life

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i saw this t-shirt in new look a couple of weeks ago and had to buy it. not only was it black and white striped (and you can never have too many black and white striped t shirts in your wardrobe) but i felt like ‘happy go lucky’ summed up my approach to life.

as much as i am fully aware of everything that anorexia has taken / is taking from me, it made / makes me pretty happy most of the time. i probably shouldn’t say that. even though it’s true.

i’m happy because i have (the illusion of) control. it’s my safety blanket allowing me to focus on other areas of my life – work, my marriage, all the life admin that comes with being a grown up. it manages the feelings of instability and anxiety that otherwise cripple me. it gives me something that i can feel successful and, for want of a better word, ‘good’ at. i feel like it allows me to be the best version of me.

the last few days have been hard. harder than i even know how to put into words. harder than i found the weekend when i was only really at the start of my spiral downwards.

yesterday, having already eaten whatever i could find in the cupboards, i purposefully went out and spent over £50 on food that i then binged on, possessed by a force far stronger than anything i’ve ever had to fight before. within such a short space of time – a week maybe, no more than that – the foundations on which i’ve built my recovery from the rape, from the long, emotionally draining and ultimately unsuccessful battle i had to try and get justice, from the ptsd that made me feel like i was losing my mind, have crumbled.

my psychiatrist’s answer is to eat three normal meals a day. the rational part of me knows that he is right and that will help to prevent the bingeing. the anorexic part of me just desperately wants to get back to the restriction which gives me the strength to fight everything else.

{title quotation from guy de maupassant}

you truly belong here among the clouds

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i saw this quotation written on a wall when i was in oxford a few weeks ago. i liked it until i realised it was a slight mis-quotation from star wars which is something that is totally lost on me. it doesn’t really have anything to do with this post but i still like it, i think.

the last few days have been a bit of a shit show really. my psychiatrist said to me last night that he’s not sure i’m ready for recovery yet. on some level, i think he’s right. i don’t have the resilience and skills to deal with this emotional maelstrom that has been unleashed. i’ve spent hours this weekend eating. eating anything and everything that i can get my hands on. the list is endless; the calorie count horrendous.

as a result, i feel absolutely disgusted with myself. that disgust then translates into self-harm and a flare up of other ptsd symptoms (primarily intrusive thoughts and flashbacks). honestly, i haven’t felt this bad for seven or eight months. and this is after i took a diazepam this afternoon to try and make it through the day.

the only way that i can describe anorexia – or restriction in general because i certainly don’t feel justified in calling it anorexia at the moment – is that it makes me feel safe. the impact of my rape and the subsequent ptsd symptoms took away my sense of security. anorexia gave it back. now that i’m fighting the anorexia, i’m not safe again.

at the moment i’m curled up in bed writing this in between reading chapters of the woman in the window which the blurb on the cover told me would be unputdownable (sadly, not true). bed is where i feel safe. when i was off work last year, there were days when i wouldn’t get out of bed because everywhere else felt too dangerous and unstable. in the immediate aftermath of my rape (which happened in my flat although not, thankfully, in my bed or even in my bedroom), my clearest memory is hiding under the duvet, burrowing down to try and block out the fact that my rapist was snoring away just the other side of the wall. even now, i don’t want to move from my bed to the sofa (although my laptop battery is just about to run out so sometimes practical requirements take priority).

i’m seeing my therapist on wednesday and my psychiatrist on friday. this has all the makings of one of the toughest weeks of my life.

 

 

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life itself is the proper binge

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i had a dream last night that my husband and i argued over what type of waffles we should have for breakfast today. not only is every waking thought about food at the moment but it’s clearly started to invade my sleep as well.

the picture above isn’t today’s breakfast, needless to say, but a picture of some spectacular chicken and waffles that i ate at poppy and rose when we were in la for our honeymoon a couple of years ago. the buttermilk waffles were crisp and tender. the coating on the chicken was heady with seasoning and the meat was juicy and lucious. the smoked honey butter that it came with had just the right balance of sweet and savoury. god, it was bloody delicious.

i put on a fair amount of weight on our honeymoon (which was a slightly extravagant five week jaunt). it wasn’t a huge surprise really given that we ate out at least once, if not two or three times a day. i even ate foie gras carbonara (twice); surely that is the height of excess? there was no bingeing or restricting though, just a real and thorough appreciation of the good food that i was eating.

it’s just under two years since we went on our honeymoon. it was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life. it came after a stressful few months filled with our wedding, a major operation for me and a long wait for the outcome of the police investigation into a historic allegation of rape that i’d made. we finished our trip staying in an apartment a few blocks from venice beach. on the last day, i went for a walk by myself and stood at the edge of the pacific ocean with my toes in the still-freezing water and realised that everything was going to be okay.

for most of the last two years – and the last year in particular – it hasn’t felt that way. i’ve never had to battle so hard and so constantly. and in that fight, i feel like i’ve totally lost myself.

twice in the last week, i’ve binged. i’ve not really binged since october so it’s been a shock to the system to say the very least. my doctor has said that it’s totally normal and part of the recovery process; my body is screaming out for calories and it will do anything to get them. last night i binged until the early hours of the morning, clearing out the fridge of anything that i could eat quickly and mindlessly. as a result, the number on the scales has risen hugely and my breakfast this morning has consisted of 200mg of sertraline and a laxative. i know this is wrong on all sorts of levels but i’m powerless to stop it.

of all the disordered activities that i partake in, i find bingeing the most shameful. our society does not look kindly upon those people who just can’t stop eating. they’re greedy and fat and unable to control themselves. i feel all of those things about myself when i binge and it just reinforces every negative self-belief that i have. but, just as restriction serves a purpose, bingeing also serves a purpose for me.

after i went to the police to report my rape, i had to give a video statement. if needed, this video could then be used in court in lieu of me giving evidence. the process lasted for two hours and went into all sorts of intimate detail that i never expected to have to tell anyone, let alone a police officer that i’d only met ten minutes before. my video interview was at 11am and i was too nervous to eat anything beforehand. after it was finished, i was supposed to go back to work. i didn’t (at least not immediately). instead, i went to buy as much chocolate as i could afford at hotel chocolate and gorged myself until i could think of nothing more than how sick i felt. only then was i able to force myself back into the present. that pattern continued throughout the two years that it took the for the cps to finally come to the decision not to press charges.

last night’s binge wasn’t related to the rape or any of the ptsd symptoms that characterised my long period of binge eating last year. but i felt anxious and sad and defeated by the thought of the fight ahead of me and so i binged. and today i know i’ll restrict.

and so the cycle goes on.

{title quotation from julia child}

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i read the news today, oh boy

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another blogger who i follow posted ‘a day in the life of anorexic me‘ yesterday as part of #edaw2018 and i found it incredibly helpful to read of someone else’s day-to-day experience of living with anorexia so decided to do the same for today. i should caveat this with the fact that i am not really doing anything more than flirting with recovery at the moment therefore this post might contain examples of disordered behaviour. as ever, i’ll try not to get into any real specifics but please don’t think this is how anyone else should or does behave. eating disorders are different for everyone. 

7am – my alarm goes off. normally i get up at 6am, do a yoga workout and then aim to leave for work by about 7.30am. today, however, i’m working from home as i have an appointment with my psychiatrist later so i take advantage of the opportunity to have a lie in. i’m so tired all the time at the moment although the combination of my evening medication (diazepam and olanzapine) means that i sleep really heavily.

i lie in bed for a while trying to put off the moment when i have to get up because then i’ll have to weigh myself and, based on my weight before i went to bed last night, i’m expecting to have gained from yesterday. my first weight is always my ‘official’ weight and the weight that gets logged in my fitness pal. it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

eventually i get up, take my daily dose of sertraline and, most importantly, go to the loo. i can’t get on the scale until after i’ve been to the loo. i weigh myself in stones and lbs with my pyjamas on and am relieved to actually see a small drop from the previous day. my doctor will be less happy but it makes me feel safer and more secure to know that i have ultimate control over that number. my routine is then to take my pyjamas off and weigh myself in kgs which, unsurprisingly, also shows a drop from the day before. i have no idea why i do this, it makes absolutely no sense.

9am – yesterday was a bad day and i didn’t manage to eat either breakfast or lunch. february was a bad month really. i’m supposed to be aiming for three meals a day and i am just finding it too hard at the moment. but today is the 1st of march and i’m determined this will be a better month.

because i’ve seen a small drop in the scales this morning and i know that i’m seeing my psychiatrist later, i know force myself to have breakfast. the only way i can do this is to have a set routine. so i take my usual bowl out of the cupboard and weigh out exactly the right number of grams of plain yoghurt. i debate having some fruit with it but decide in the end that anything sweet will set me off on a binge so just eat it plain and as quickly as humanly possible. which is pretty quick as it’s still a relatively small portion.

i email my psychiatrist with my weight for the day. his reply is fairly terse but that’s to be expected; i know that he thinks that i’m not fighting very hard at the moment and i’m terrified as to what he’s going to say when i see him later. before i settle down to work, i do a 30 minute yoga with adriene video. my doctor is happy for me to keep up with the yoga for the moment but i’ve been banned from anything more strenuous (not that it matters hugely to me as i’m fundamentally lazy).

12pm – i’ve been relegated to the third bedroom/study as our cleaner is here. it’s the only room in our flat without a radiator and i’m swathed in blankets to try and keep warm. it’s a battle i’m currently losing. i have a long to do list but all i can think about is what i’m going to eat for lunch or, more accurately, if i’m going to eat lunch.

1pm – once the cleaner has gone, i can come out of hiding and can curl up on the sofa with my laptop. i default to my standard meal when i can’t think of anything else to have; roasted cherry tomatoes on a slice of homemade rosemary soda bread from the freezer. this time, i manage to sprinkle some feta on top which is a step forward. i eat quickly again, trying to distract myself by flicking through pinterest so that i don’t really have time to think about the fact that i’m eating lunch. the food weighs heavily in my stomach which registers its surprise at having to digest something at this time of the day with some painful and uncomfortable cramping.

i dutifully log the details of my lunch into the app that my psychiatrist uses to track my progress and i notice that i’ve missed a message from him saying that i need to eat a proper lunch before my appointment with him this afternoon (my brain automatically adds ‘otherwise don’t bother to show up’ to this although i know that’s not what he means). i don’t know if what i ate counts as a proper lunch but i can’t contemplate eating any more right now.

2pm – i have a deadline of 4pm to get something finished for my boss but i’m consumed by the thoughts of what i’ve just eaten, whether my psychiatrist will consider it sufficient and what else i am going to eat today. i was supposed to be meeting a friend after my appointment tonight but i’ve just cancelled as i can’t face being somewhere surrounded by people eating and drinking, even if i’m not doing either of these things. but cancelling tonight also means that i haven’t planned out what i’m going to have for dinner and i can feel my levels of anxiety rising at the prospect of having to make (yet another) food-based decision. in an attempt to focus on something else, i decide to hop back on the yoga mat for a quick 20 minute workout (my second of the day). i’m starting to worry that i’m using yoga as a compensatory behaviour for when i feel like i’ve eaten too much (or just eaten full stop) but i’m trying to balance that against the good that i feel it does both my physical and mental health.

4pm – i’ve done what i needed to do work-wise so now i have to get ready to go to my psychiatrist appointment. which means have to get changed out of the only clothes i feel comfortable in – my yoga leggings and an oversized jumper. i have hardly any clothes that fit me any more and i’m full aware that i look ridiculous in most things, like a child playing dress up. plus it’s bloody freezing out, just in case you hadn’t noticed. i’m trying to decide whether to walk to my appointment or get the tube. tube obviously seems the most logical option and i know my psychiatrist will be cross if i tell him that i walked there (it’s about a 45 minute walk). but i really want to walk because i feel like i’ve eaten so much today.

7pm – my psychiatrist was probably a lot nicer to me than i deserve (especially as i walked there and back. i haven’t told him that part yet). he’s still referring to me as being in crisis but he seems marginally less worried than he did a couple of weeks ago. the rational part of me thinks that’s a good thing. the anorexic part of me is screaming that i’m just not sick enough (yet). every conversation, every thought is a battle. even him telling me that i’m doing well feels less like a victory and more like an abject failure.

we talked a bit about what my life was like before the ptsd, and then the eating disorder, took hold. i feel so sad and nostalgic for my former life. i used to live in colour, now it’s just black and white. we planned out what i was going to eat tonight. the cold and the unbearable ache for my past have led me down the route of spaghetti bolognese; not an authentic slow-cooked melting ragu but the quick sauce my mum used to make sometimes when she got home from work and that tastes like my childhood.

8pm – we tend to eat dinner around this time. as usual, it’s in front of the tv (masterchef tonight; it goes without saying that our television viewing is dominated by food). in order to manage my anxiety around eating (and in particular, how i feel after i’ve eaten), i take some diazepam with my meal. i’ve weighed out the exact quantity of pasta, sauce and salad that i’m going to eat and already calculated the calories. i also throw down a cocktail of pre-conception vitamins on the very off chance that this is the month we get lucky (26’s the charm and all that). two-thirds of my plate is taken up with salad (no dressing, of course). the remainder is what seems to me to be an excessively large portion of pasta. it is, though, no more than i would serve to a child and the entire meal comes in under 200 calories. i desperately want to stop eating halfway through – partly just to show that i can – but i have promised to eat it all so i manage to clear my plate

9.30pm – the diazepam has taken the edge off the usual post-dinner anxiety that i feel although i’m having to fight a strong urge to binge (or self harm) because i don’t know how else to deal both with the physical feeling of being full and the waves of sadness and regret that keep washing over me. i’m in my pyjamas now though and i’ve taken my olanzapine so i’m fully expecting to fall asleep in front of the tv within the next half hour. and so ends another day of anorexic me.

this post has turned into something of an epic. if nothing else, it’s been a very useful exercise for me. one thing that came up today with my psychiatrist was the extent to which i was in denial about the anorexia. i said it was about 50:50. ironically it’s the anorexic part of me that is most in denial. how can my therapist be talking about weight gain when i’m still so fat? i’m functioning perfectly normally – able to hold down a stressful job, have a good relationship with my husband, spend time with my family – so how can i be sick?

but i need to accept that whilst i can do all of those things and whilst i can appear from the outside to have my shit together, it doesn’t change the fact that anorexia is slowly consuming me, little by little. and the longer that it goes on, the less of me there will be left.

as a little ps, i also wrote a short blog for beat about being diagnosed with anorexia in my mid-thirties after a lifetime of disordered eating as part of their #whywait campaign.

{title quotation from a day in the life by the beatles}

it takes a village

20180212-IMG_1268normally i work from home on a tuesday because i have therapy first thing in the morning and i generally need a bit of solo time after my sessions. apart from when i’ve run away, this has been the pattern for the last nine months or so.

today, however, i’m in the office because not only do i now have a new psychiatrist but i also will have a new therapist after tomorrow.

i’m very grateful to my now ex-therapist. without him, i wouldn’t have got through the crippling ptsd that i suffered for most of last year. but there were also things that frustrated me about him and i felt that our sessions – or at least the overarching theme of our sessions rather than the individual sessions themselves – lacked a structure or focus. and in the short time that i’ve been under my new psychiatrist’s care (is it really less than three weeks?!), i think it’s become clear that i need more intensive treatment than i’m currently getting.

i’ve had some success with bringing my calorie intake up but that has resulted in some other unhealthy behaviours rearing up. behaviours that i thought i had well and truly left behind including, but not limited to, one of the biggest and most shameful binges i’ve ever had last night. my new psychiatrist said that he’s still happy that i can be treated on an outpatient basis (even that sounds so serious) and i’m not at the stage of needing day patient / inpatient care. but he’s also made it clear that it’s probably only a matter of a few weeks and that continued outpatient support relies on me actively participating in my recovery and surrounding myself with the best possible people. he has pulled some strings to get me appointments both with one of the top nutritionists in london and with a highly recommended specialist in cbt-e. i know the rest is down to me.

and, as much as i hate to admit it because i like to think of myself as independent and resilient and self-sufficient and everything else that a seemingly professional and pulled-together woman in her mid-thirties should be, i’m not really any of those things. i need all the help that i can get at the moment. because i want to beat this. i really do. and i can’t do it by myself. this is going to have to be a team effort.

this week is eating disorder awareness week (#edaw2018). already i’ve seen so many inspiring tweets, blog posts, articles and vlogs from people who are suffering, have suffered or have watched someone suffer. inspired by all of those stories, i’ve gradually told more and more people in my life what’s been going on and have been staggered by the generosity of spirit that so many people have shown me. most people don’t really know how to react or what to say – which is absolutely fine with me – but just knowing that they’re there and cheering me on is enough for me.

it’s yet another one of those strange paradoxes that anorexia is built on; i don’t think i’ve ever felt so loved at a time when i’ve never hated myself more.

{title quotation from an african proverb}