Honesty

All posts tagged Honesty

My 30th birthday…

Published 14 March, 2013 by ladyem83

…was perfect.  It was a wonderful compilation of everything I love.  There is a reason I have emboldened and italicized that pronoun and it will become evident subsequently.

In the meantime, however, excuse my indulgence as I relive my weekend by recounting it here.

I came downstairs to the birthday scene of my childhood:  the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner  (now somewhat crumpled as it’s just about as old as I am!) was draped across the chimney breast in the dining room; and cards and presents were presented on the dining room table.  Even as I child, I was never one to dive in and start ripping open the paper; my brother always did that!  I preferred, and still do, to stand back and take in the scene.  I look at every detail and see the thought that’s gone into it and I feel its warmth.  The fact that Mum dug out from the depths of some drawer the old birthday banner touched me so much.

Breakfast with Mum was Marmite on toast (our staple breakfast choice) and Moet (she knows me well!).  I popped my first Champagne cork with no breakages- but I did give a little yelp of excitement!

The rest of the day was spent driving to Aberdeen as we were spending a long weekend with my brother and his girlfriend.

On arrival, after hugs, my brother asked whether we fancied a cuppa or popping into the dining room.  Given that the door to the dining room was covered with a huge banner saying, “THE PARTY IS HERE!”, the decision was not a difficult one to make!

I opened the door, peaked inside, gasped and flung the door open as I stepped in!  Balloons! Birthday banners! A table filled with party food…and an exquisitely decorated birthday cake along side a bottle of equally exquisite Champagne!

We popped party poppers, we yelped when the balloons got too close to the light fitting and spontaneously exploded, we laughed, we took silly photos, we chatted; we were a family and I was an active part of this wonderful family unit.

The rest of the weekend was the same.  It was our family together, with the addition of an extra special member (my brother’s girlfriend who makes the special threesome of Mum, my brother and me, an equally special foursome).

My brother took us on a wild goose chase through Aberdeen to find the harbour because he wanted to see the boats.  Under normal weather conditions, this would not be an issue for me, or his girlfriend, but- oh my gosh, it was blowing a bloomin’ gale and freezing cold!  Nevertheless, I am (somewhat) glad that I saw the harbour, as it was breathtaking.  The white horses were fiercely dancing atop the excitable  waves and the sea was dotted with tankers and ships.  With my hood pulled up and feeling grumpy at my biting cheeks, even I could not help but be moved by the sheer strength exerted by the forces of nature which I saw before me.

That evening we put our glad rags on and dined out and it was lovely!

I said it repeatedly over the weekend, and I’ll say it again;  it was truly a wonderfully unforgettable birthday.

Stepping Off My High Horse & Off The Edge Of A Cliff…

Published 16 October, 2012 by ladyem83

I’ve given my therapists a hard time over the last few months.  I consider myself to be a relatively intelligent individual who is in tune with her thoughts (the good and bad) and can effectively communicate them.

I know my underlying issues which I have taken to extreme lengths and which have resulted in  my depression and anorexia.   I have wanted to address these issues with my psychiatric team.  I am an all or nothing person.  When I commit to something I give it my best and I give it my all.  So, you can imagine my frustration when the professionals tell me that I am not ‘cognitively able‘ to deal with such issues at this moment due to my low weight.  I could not (and to a degree still now) do not accept this.

How dare they claim that my cognitive function is impaired by my low weight.  To counter their ‘ridiculous’ claims I got numerous textbooks from the library and studied the science behind diet and nutrition.   I studied the various psychological theories and their respective practitioners.   I’d play them at their own game.  I’d show them that they didn’t know what they had when they were dealing with me.   I’d show them that I can take on whatever they’ve got to throw at me.  I can talk about the things that are eating me up inside without it pushing me over the edge!

….or can I?

When it comes to my life, be it buying a car, considering my financial situation, my mental health, the first thing I do is research.  I want to be able to talk to on some kind of par with the people involved.  I don’t presume to be an armchair expert in any of their fields, but I use my research to give me a basic  grounding, so that I can question and try to understand at a deeper level.

My dietitian once asked whether I would expect a client to come to me for legal advice and then proceed to tell me that they have already consulted the Law of Property Act.  Truth be told, I’d take my hat off to them and give them an understanding nod of respect!

Notwithstanding the incredibly arrogant tone emanating from the above paragraphs , I am the first to admit when I don’t know something. I am the first to ask a question when I don’t understand.  I am not ashamed if I haven’t grasped something or don’t know it.  I am receptive to and respectful of other people’s views, knowledge and experience.  I don’t know it all, but I thought I do know myself!

So, when I read the following in a psychology article (please see the link at the foot of this post for the complete article) I could do nothing but hold my hands up and very quickly clamber down from my high horse:

The emboldened words are those which particularly struck a chord with me.

The italicized words are my comments.

Starvation study shows that recovery from anorexia is possible only by regaining weight

Anorexia is a physical illness of starvation
Published on November 23, 2010 by Dr Emily T. Troscianko in A Hunger Artist

There is one finding about anorexia which seems to me more crucial to treating it successfully than anything else.  It is a counterintuitive insight, but one that seems – like all the best facts – completely obvious when once one knows it.  It is this: that for the anorexic, gaining weight is the prerequisite for mental recovery, rather than vice versa.  Put another way: you can’t make an anorexic want to put on weight until he or she has begun to do so.  Put yet another way: the mind may make the body sick, but only the body can help the mind be well again.

The above  has been the mantra of my various therapists for months.  My argument has been that it is a vicious circle; my underlying issues are preventing me from eating freely, if we don’t straighten them out, how can I feed my body?! 

***

Christopher Fairburn’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders(2008: Chapter 11) describes how some of the effects of being underweight (i.e. having a BMI below 17.5) contribute to maintain the eating disorder: being preoccupied with food and eating, becoming socially withdrawn and losing interest in other things. Becoming indecisive, feeling a heightened need for routine and predictability, and feeling heightened sensations of fullness after eating, all help create vicious circles in which the only way to avoid mental or physical discomfort in the short term is by keeping on starving, but the only way to escape these problems in the long term is to regain weight.  He also emphasises that while sufferers of anorexia will be convinced that their present state reflects their personality, in fact their personality is masked by the effects of being underweight and that their own personality will only emerge again if weight is regained.  Anorexics sometimes fear that they will stop being ‘special’, or stop knowing who they are, if they regain weight, but of course there is nothing special about being severely underweight, and ‘who one is’ is irrelevant: one is simply the same as everyone else who is severely underweight, just like the brave men who participated in the Starvation Study. One’s true character remains hidden when the body is starved, to be rediscovered by starting to eat again. 

Point noted.  Effecting that point is the challenge.

The two facts of key importance to the sufferer of anorexia who is aware of the bleakness of the way in which he or she is living but cannot resolve to change are as follows:

1.      If you regain weight, not only the physical effects of your current state – being constantly cold and weak, sleeping and concentrating poorly, bad hair and skin – will disappear, but so will the ways in which you currently think and feel.  Your body is starved, and your character and your thoughts are dominated by this starvation, and will cease to be so once you allow yourself to regain weight.

2.      There is no point in waiting for the magical moment at which you decide, once and for all, that you want to start eating more again, or to regain weight.  Your starved state is making you unable to think flexibly enough to fully comprehend the possibility of eating or living differently, or even the possibility of wanting to think about and enjoy things other than food; it has hidden from you who you really are, and made you believe you are nothing but the anorexia; it is making the smallest piece of food feel like too much.  For these reasons you will never truly want to recover, but you have to seize all your feelings of despair, desperation, hope, recklessness, and curiosity in order to make yourself plunge into that first day and first meal of recovery.  As long as you keep yourself going, keep eating, through the first difficult weeks, it will get easier and easier.

(Source:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hunger-artist/201011/starvation-study-shows-recovery-anorexia-is-possible-only-regaining-weight )

I was so incredibly struck by this when I read it and again today reading it.  It is so true.

My current BMI is still below 17.5.

I think I have overcome most of my issues with food.  Not so.  When my depression hit me badly a couple of days ago I denied myself lunch.  I sat in a cafe with an apple cut into chunks on a plate whilst my two best friends tucked into their delicious looking lunches that I so wanted.

This afternoon travelling into town I felt hungry.  I thought I’d have a yoghurt but decided against it because I wanted to have a latte in Starbucks. I felt hunger but denied myself.  My head told me that I was just being weak if I ate something.  I didn’t need it, the latte would be sufficient and was a treat in itself.

How to break this mindset?  It seems the only thing for it is to switch to auto-pilot.  To just eat; not think, feel, question, consider, challenge, delay, or barter.

EAT.

And that’s where this overthinking, control freak falls down.  The prospect fills me with terror and utter confusion.  I am careful, I plan, I make safe, considered decisions.  You’re asking me to approach the edge of a cliff and keep walking in the hope that somehow a path will emerge before me and I won’t fall.  I’m not stupid! If I walk off that cliff I will free fall faster than Felix Baumgartner and my landing will be decidedly more messy.

I keep myself measured so that I don’t fall apart.  I can’t let myself go.

I don’t believe anything will catch me if I step off that cliff edge.

For all my efforts and thinking I have moved forward I have only increased my comfort zone ever so slightly and I remain utterly rigid within that zone.

Until I throw caution to the wind and embrace flexibility I am going to remain in this so-called comfort zone that is in fact a straight jacket.

I need to act.

I don’t know whether I can.

 

Finding My Voice

Published 12 October, 2012 by ladyem83

Depression, my ‘black dog’ is a mysterious, unfathomable, organic creature.  It’s a shape-shifter.  From day to day, even moment to moment it changes its form and alters my state of mind.  It pulls my strings and plays with me.  It makes me feel hopeless and numb, then it allows me to feel empowered and elated.  Then it seemingly leaves me feeling flat.  What it doesn’t let me feel, however, is me.  

So, instead, I have learnt to become grateful for the days when I feel flat.  I hate the dark days, and the moments or days filled with elation are deceptively high; I don’t trust them.

Monday was flat.  Tuesday was dark. Wednesday was brighter. Thursday was a little brighter still and, today, there’s a glimmer of me.  I felt her yesterday evening.   I’d been occupying myself all afternoon trying to resist the pull of my gremlin’s voice. I was swinging from the flat baseline to feelings of empowerment and back again.  A voice told me that I could manage my gremlin, I could play with him but be strong enough not to give in to him totally.

But, then something told me otherwise.  That something was me. My black dog and my gremlin were colluding with each other.  They have become master ventriloquists and their voices are frighteningly convincing; they sound like me but their message is dangerous.

So, I sat still.  I continued to read my book (and re-read the pages and passages where my mind had wondered for the umpteenth time as it tuned into my gremlin’s voice).

Mum arrived home late and I told her the way I’d been feeling the last couple of days.  I like being honest with her. Even now, I expect her to be disappointed with me and somewhat ashamed of me because, essentially, I am; or at least I’m ashamed of the characteristics  that my black dog and my gremlin play out in me .  Mum never, ever judges me.  She listens and acknowledges.  She points out the possible pathways to further improvement and she commends the steps and/or the truths I’ve discovered so far.  She gives strength to my emerging voice.

I spend all day on my own with my thoughts, my black dog’s thoughts and my gremlin’s thoughts.  By the end of the day when Mum arrives home I’m exhausted from all the mental to-ing and fro-ing.  So, everyday (more or less) for the last 10 months I’ve looked forward to the evening when I would numb them all into submission.  It has been bliss.  I would feel the wave wash over me and the voices would be silenced.  What was left was banal and I gave in to its calming, wonderful simplicity.

But, I’d wake feeling guilty.  I’d wake knowing that all I’d done was temporarily gag the mouths of my black dog, my gremlin and, most worryingly, myself.  The numbness wasn’t selective and I favoured drowning out all the voices.

I realised that the longer I continued with this destructive practice, the weaker my voice would get.  I was worried that I would start to forget it.

Something had to change.

So, for the last two days I have heard and cowered from the growls and vicious barks of my black dog.  I have wrestled with the devilishly teasing, tempting, coercing voice of my gremlin.  I have not handed myself over to them, however (despite wanting to at times).  They have been noisily occupying my mind so I have gone for walks, I have even gone for a run (!). I have cleaned, I have read.  I have even just sat and listened to their raucous chatter .

Today, they are still there; I know they are.  This evening will be a test for me.  I will write about it this afternoon, or later.  However, the fact that for the last two days I haven’t played ball with them makes me start to believe that I don’t have to.  I have the strength to say no, I don’t want to play the game and nothing truly bad will come from that.  

Ok, I acknowledge that I’m writing this on an ‘up’ day.   But I believe it is important for me to take everything I can out of these moments.  It is important that if I hear my voice that I listen to it and praise it because, when the down days come I need to know that they will not stay forever.  I need to know that my voice is still inside me and that I have had the strength in the past to overcome or simply live through the dark moments.

When I hear that voice that I know to be mine, when I feel the feelings of old Em again, I cling on to them for dear life.  I am not ashamed to say that I liked old Em! Old Em doesn’t deserve to be cowering in a dark corner with a black dog and a gremlin nipping away at her.  They deserve to be kept in the dog house!

This week has been another learning curve.

Two Steps Back

Published 6 September, 2012 by ladyem83

The day after lunch with A Ana’s familiar voice started whispering but this time I found that I could just about drown her out.

To start the new week I lay in bed and decided that I’d give up weighing myself daily. I use the number on the scales to determine my mood, my feeling of worth, my sense of achievement, my confidence.  I use it to decide what food I will ‘treat’ myself with or deny myself.

As the day went on I felt increasingly lost and terrified.  How was I ever going to be able to make a decision?  What have I got if I haven’t got the scales to give me my sense of achievement? How can I judge myself, my progress?  How can I be?? I bought some Yoga videos and decided that I needed to do more exercise.  Of course, this was a control mechanism.  If I couldn’t check that my weight wasn’t going up then I’d have to do everything possible to ensure that it wouldn’t.

Over the last couple of days this misplaced control mechanism has spiraled out of control.

The next morning I tucked myself into bed with Mum and confessed that I couldn’t decide what to have for breakfast.  I felt like my usual breakfast, which I love and have never been concerned about before, but I kept thinking that porridge would be the safer, healthier option.  The magnitude of this decision was overwhelming me.  Normally, I’d have tousled with it then hopped on the scales and made my decision from the reading.  But, I was on a self-imposed scales ban!

Mum offered to have breakfast with me and we talked it through.  We acknowledged that this was Ana making me doubt myself again.

I had porridge.  I gave in to Ana.  Without checking the scales, I couldn’t risk the alternative breakfast choice and possible weight gain.  For the record, the alternative choice isn’t a full English, it’s just toast and marmite!

Ana’s voice has grown in decibels and screamed at me on Tuesday after a conversation with one of my best friends.  I won’t go into the conversation here or my actions afterwards but they were extreme and they were all Ana.  She took me over completely and literally trod me into a weeping ball on the bathroom floor.

Since then, she’s kept her voice there.  My dreams last night were laced with Ana’s poison.

I told Mum this morning that I absolutely 100% don’t want to put on weight.

I cannot see any reason whatsoever for doing it.  I don’t believe I am worth a place in my life or the world.  I don’t believe I have anything to give.  If I disappeared, I wouldn’t leave a hole.

 

Decisions, Decisions…

Published 30 August, 2012 by ladyem83

Am I stubborn? Am I a fraud?  Am I in denial? Am I a coward?

I know I’m tired of thinking.  I’m so tired of the two personae who are occupying my mind and I wonder whether either of them is actually the ‘real me’.  I just can’t figure this out.

My dietician has queried whether I’m able to overcome this at home or whether I would benefit more from being admitted to a specialist eating disorder unit to get the support I need.

For weeks, deep down a part of me has been wanting inpatient treatment.  I was jealous (!) of a girl I heard of who had gone to America to get the treatment she needed.  But why do I want inpatient treatment?  Because I’m not sure whether I am capable of making the decisions around food that need to be made if I’m to gain weight.  I am so uncomfortable with anything that falls outside my list of safe foods so I won’t entertain the thought of putting them inside me.  Even today I’m querying whether I’ve been greedy by having an apple as an afternoon snack, which is ridiculous! It’s fruit, not a king size Mars Bar!!

On the ‘inside’, so to speak, I would have no choice over the food I eat or don’t.  I often feel that I need permission to eat something that is out of my comfort zone.  I have to think carefully about it, know its nutritional value and be able to justify eating it.  I would be handing control over to them and they would give me the permission that I can’t give myself.

So that would be good for me.  I would have support, I would learn and re-learn.

But, then again, on the ‘inside’ I have no control.  There are foods that I just don’t want to eat.  I want the foods that are on my clean, safe list. And I promise, the list is varied, I even tried a couple of spoonfuls of haggis the other week! (Yes, I’m a haggis lover! I don’t dwell on its ingredients and you most likely won’t agree with me, but it’s tasty!)

I think that I’m eating sufficient to keep myself going. Granted, ‘Bringing me Back: Part I Get Serious’ is evidence to the contrary. But what will happen if I loose all my control (perceived control)? Well, I know what will happen, I’ve written it here.  So why, when I re-read that is it like reading the words of somebody else?  Why over the last few days can I only think that if I hand my control over I will let slip of everything I have, everything I know.  The rug will be yanked from underneath me and I will go hurtling downwards.

I also worry that I’m not sufficiently ‘ill’ to warrant being an inpatient.  I’ve read accounts of others who suffer so very much, who struggle infinitely more than I do.  They warrant that support, I really don’t think I do.  I think I can get by as I am.

I read of others who are battling this.  They’re trying hard. Am I really trying hard? I don’t think so.  I think I’m staying in my comfort zone because I’m a coward.  Where do they find the strength to push themselves out of their comfort zones? Why am I so weak?

It’s so confusing.  I’m so confused.  I can’t straighten my thoughts out.  I can’t find that single decisive common voice in me which I can trust and act on.  For every single thought I have there is a counter argument which is seems equally as rational.

I don’t know where to go from here.  I really don’t.

More than a rollercoaster ride.

Published 28 August, 2012 by ladyem83

I’m tired of the psychological fairground ride I’m on.  It only takes the slightest of triggers (perceptible or not)  and my mindset flips to that of Ana. I can be ‘up’ one day: confident; happy; optimistic; and just as quickly I can be ‘down’ the next day: insecure, questioning, confused; tired.  The in between time is spent spinning around on a waltzer of confusion, challenges and counter-challenges.

The waltzer’s strobe lights try to blind my rational views with new ideas, new ways to cheat, new ways to be ‘clever’, new ways to deceive.  The music blaring tries to drown out my timid voice of reason.  I’m gripping the handrail of this waltzer for dear life.  My eyes are shut tight against the disorientating light.  I’m trying to shout above the thumping music. I’m trying to focus on my centre, remain grounded, fight the incredible G-force that is trying to throw me out.

Why did I wake up on Monday morning not feeling comfortable with myself?  Why did I have to keep myself busy all day?  Why was I afraid of stopping, thinking?  Why did I feel that I didn’t deserve to be?

If I’m having a ‘wobble’ day then anything I perceive to be a slight against me strikes me to my very core and my immediate reaction is to punish myself.

When my best friend told me her boyfriend had proposed I swelled with happiness for her, and then in the split second that followed I told myself: that will never happen to me, it only further cements the truth that I’m not worthy of anybody.

When somebody said my writing wasn’t quite the right subject for their website I interpreted it as a personal dismissal of me.  I’m not good enough a person, I’ve failed.

My only coping mechanism is to punish myself by restricting my eating. After all, I don’t deserve to food!

Right now, other than breakfast and dinner (which I’m comfortable with, providing they’re my safe foods) anything else needs to be justified.  What have I done to deserve that treat?  Have I been sufficiently active to burn it off?  Have I done something good so that it will constitute a treat for myself?  Do I deserve that treat?

I spoke about this with my dietician this morning.  I am all too aware that feeding my body is not rewarding it but rather fuelling and nurturing it, allowing it to grow, repair and rebuild.

But I feel disconnected from my body.  My body is my outlet:  the target of my fears, failures and anxieties.

I baked a cake yesterday with no intention of eating any.  After dinner, however, I thought it would be nice to sit with a cup of tea and a slice of cake.  I thought about it and decided that I would.  I enjoyed it.  Banana and hazelnut.  Deliciously moist, fruity, crunchy and fresh.  The perfect accompaniment to my Earl Grey tea.

Afterwards I sobbed until the tears ran dry.  Ana was telling me that I’d been weak; that I hadn’t done anything which deserved that cake; it was empty food and eaten out of my sheer indulgence and greed.

STOP!

I heard Ana’s words and recognised the malice in them.  Those words weren’t nurturing, they weren’t caring, they weren’t protecting me.

THINK!

I had only eaten a piece of cake.  That one piece of cake was not going to make me fat.  It was not going to damage me.  I deserved to enjoy a piece of the cake which I had baked for no other reason than I wanted to try it!

ALLOW!

I made a promise to myself at the weekend that I would start each day afresh.  I wouldn’t allow one day’s negativity to permeate and infect my new day.  I would take strength and encouragement from the positives and carry them forward with pride into my new day.

My instinct had been to restrict my eating today to compensate for the cake; but that’s not in keeping with my promise.

So, I acknowledged my feelings.  I accepted that Ana’s voice had plagued me and tried to break me.  I forgave myself for letting Ana in.  I recognised that I had found some strength to challenge Ana’s rationale.  I promised that tomorrow would be a new day.  I would face tomorrow’s challenges afresh.

I’d love to say that I slept soundly in the comfort of my own words but it wasn’t so.  I questioned, I deliberated, I worried, I doubted, I went around and around on the violent spinning circles of the waltzer; overlapping, tangling, spiralling, colliding circles.

Where am I this morning?  I’m not sure why I’m trying to change, I don’t feel like I’m doing it for myself, out of pride for myself, out of love for, or interest in myself.

But today is a new day.  So I tell myself:

I am deserving. I’m allowed to be happy.

I am worthy.  I’m allowed to nurture myself.

I give myself permission to be happy.

I give myself permission to be open to other people and other experiences.

I forgive myself.

I accept myself.

NOW I MUST NOW LEARN TO BELIEVE THEM & EMBODY THEM.

Bringing Me Back: Get Serious

Published 25 August, 2012 by ladyem83

I wrote this in my posting dated 22 August 2012:

“I have one strong voice telling me that I’m in control, happy and healthy and it’s ok not to have lunch, or just have a yoghurt or Ryvita for  lunch because I feel fit and well and my body doesn’t need the excess calories.”

The very next day was the wake up call I needed and, more importantly, must not forget.

Last week was a busy week.  Whereas usually I intersperse my days resting at home with a couple of days out in town, last week I was dashing about in town every day.  This meant getting up at 5.30am for breakfast, then maybe an apple mid-morning, a fat free yoghurt and perhaps some fruit at lunch and then home for an evening meal. That was what I always used to do.  I’ve never eaten out at lunchtime and my body could always handle it.

Thursday was different.

I went into town on a breakfast of three slices of wholemeal toast (I love bread and decided to ‘treat’ myself to an extra slice as I knew I could burn it off walking about).

I then went to Starbucks for a coffee and later met a friend for coffee at lunchtime, when I had a Chai Tea Latte.  Sometimes I take this milky drink as my lunch, telling myself that it has carbohydrates, protein and calcium, approximately 250 calories, and so is a ‘balanced lunch’ (!)

As I left my friend and walked (power walked) back into town I started to feel what I can only describe as drunk.  My eyes didn’t feel quite connected to my brain.  I couldn’t quite get a grip on what I was seeing, I felt that I was processing it with a second or two’s delay.  My body didn’t feel connected to my head.  I was walking but didn’t feel I was part of my body.  I felt like the messages weren’t getting to my brain with the zippy speed they usually do.

Food.  I knew I needed something to eat.  But, why?  I’d had eaten the same, if not a little more than I had yesterday and I’d done the same amount of walking, so why did I feel like this?

I dug into my bag for my extra apple thinking the sugar would give me the kick I needed.  I didn’t feel the rush.

I went and bought a tub of yoghurt, ate it and waited for the rush.  It didn’t come.

I sat on a bench waiting for my body to reconnect with my head again.  I kept telling myself not to be so weak, that I was just tired after only a few hours sleep the night before.  But, that was ‘Ana’ speaking.

My voice tentatively put forward another suggestion:  I simply hadn’t eaten sufficient.  Whereas my body normally puts up with running on a near empty tank (and I like that feeling), its fuel light was now flashing vigorously and it was stalling.  My body wasn’t going to stand for it anymore and it was giving me the message frighteningly loud and clear!

I told myself to pull it together and go to the library, which is where I’d been heading.

The entrance to the library is through a stunning Victorian hall, with decorative tiling, grand archways and marble columns.  Once a reading room for the library it is now home to a charming cafe, offering a selection of delicious homemade salads, soups, sandwiches and cakes.

I cast my eye over the counter and carefully considered each of the options.  My gut (excuse the pun!) was telling me I needed more food.  This was nothing more than fuel.   Ana said, I’d already eaten two apples, a yoghurt and the latte, how much more could I possibly need!?

Salmon salad:  No.  Soup: Can’t. Sandwiches: Absolutely not! Cake: Don’t deserve it.

I sat by the window as the tears welled up. I was hungry, so very hungry and tired. I couldn’t move.  The tears overflowed and rolled down my cheeks.  I needed fuel but couldn’t bring myself to put anything in.

I felt utterly alone, lost and confused.  Who could I talk to?

I could call my dietician, but she probably would be in an appointment and Ana persuaded me not to.

I could call my Mum and she would give me the nurturing, rational words that I needed to hear so badly.  Those words would give me the permission to eat, to fuel up. But Ana told me that if I called her and admitted this weakness then that would give Mum ammunition; another example to throw back at me when I’m telling her that, ‘I’m fine, I eat enough in relation to what I do’.

But I was frightened and I couldn’t move.

I called Mum and broke down.  My Mum is truly wonderful. How she knows instinctively how to act in and react to a situation like this I don’t know.

When I told her that I was trembling with hunger but couldn’t eat anything in the cafe all she said was,

 ‘Stay there, I’m coming to get you. Your salad is here and you can eat that.’

We were driving to visit relatives that afternoon and would arrive too late for dinner so I had prepared a tuna salad earlier which she had in her office.

She dropped everything at work and came. She has done this too many times for me over the last 9 months.  In the moment, she doesn’t lecture, she just rescues me.  Yes, we then discuss it later but she never judges.

I ate the tuna salad and half a bread bun (under duress!) which Mum bought for me as my salad contained no carbs (of course it didn’t!).

As my sugar levels normalised, Ana got her voice back and she’s been nagging me ever since:

“That was just a blip because you were tired.”

“You don’t always react like that, you’re stronger than that.”

“Keep being strong, you don’t need all these extra calories, they’re just going to fester in you.  You like the feeling of running on almost empty.”

“Nobody else has eaten lunch.  Stop listening to your tummy’s grumbles. If you ask for food, you’re indulging in greed.” – Nodbody else had eaten lunch because they’d had a cooked breakfast for brunch.  I’d had 25g of porridge made with water and some chopped fruit.

But being honest with myself, I didn’t like crumbling into tears like that.  In that moment I hated being a prisoner to the anorexic regime.  Why couldn’t I just eat?! It wasn’t greed, it wasn’t indulgence, it wasn’t a treat, it was desperately needed fuel!!

As part of my therapy sessions I have to consider the benefits of living with Ana and what will happen if I leave her behind.

1. Living with Ana gives me: 

1.1 Control; strength; protection; a feeling of empowerment.

1.2 Panic attacks; confusion; exhaustion (physical and mental); guilt.

2. Living without Ana would give me:

2.1 Liberation; the ability to care for myself with no guilt; a feeling of empowerment through owning my body and my mind completely.

2.2 Fear; a sense of weakness; a lack of purpose, a loss of control.

On balance:

The words listed at 1.1. are false perceptions: I am not in control, Ana controls me; am not strong, Ana is; I am not protected, I am vulnerable and Ana is destroying me; Iam not empowered, I am subservient to Ana.

So what does Ana really do? She causes all those feelings listed at 1.2, she makes me unhappy, unhealthy and a mere shadow of myself.

What will living free from Ana really do? I won’t be weak, I’ll have taken positive, healthy control. I won’t be lost, I’ll have a healthy focus, I’ll be living for myself! I’ll be free, happy and able to live a whole life. 

I’m starting to see the shining light of an Ana-free life.  I had it once and I was so content!

I’ve been increasingly ‘talking the talk’ but I haven’t been ‘walking the walk’ and I need to get serious! I need to stop trying to recover and instead recover!

‘Recover’ is a verb, a ‘doing’ word, and I need to do some doing!

I’ve been reading the accounts of others who are going through, or have been through this battle (I’ve put links to their sites here) and their words, together with my slowly increasingly strong voice are awakening a determination in me.

I do want to be free.  I am scared to challenge Ana but I don’t deserve to be her slave.

The battle will be exactly that; a battle.  I’ll hurt, I’ll wonder whether I can do it, I’ll wonder why I’m putting myself through it and I’ll be scared.

But, I’m going to be the victor.  There’s no way that I’m not. I know I’m a strong character, I’ve worked hard in the past to get where I am today. 

It’s time to get serious and put me first.

I now have to hang on to and apply this sense of determination and will in every second of the day and that will be the hardest part.

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