Sweet and sour chicken, boiled rice, green beans.
Strawberry full-fat yoghurt.
Tuna mayo sandwiches (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Bread and butter pudding, custard.
…& the usual PINT of milk.
I remember that flicker of embarrassment tingling in my brain when my mum found them. Mouldy sandwiches. Smelly, in their crinkly clear bag, probably covered with blue fuzzy spots; behind a plant pot in the garden.
Truth calling me a visit. This wasn’t planned… ? I knew they weren’t going to dissolve in the soil any time soon, or be nibbled away by the bees on their pollen adventures. (…new film-scene for ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ maybe)
No I hadn’t been a good girl. I hadn’t eaten the sandwiches my mum had made and neatly packed into my square, pink, Barbie lunchbox that day.
But for a few days, we all thought I had.
Launching them out of my bedroom window seemed completely worth it at the time. Worth creating that brief moment of peace – the ideal reality. Being an obedient daughter and never disappointing anyone. My parents wouldn’t have to find them in the bin (where they ended up anyway… they just took the scenic route)
Out of sight, out of mind. I could still live in HOPE deep-down knowing where those pesky sarnies really were, that they would somehow never be found…
(…same went for the stash I hid behind the dishwasher in the kitchen!)
Weirdly enough, my point here isn’t about the food. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t have an Eating Disorder at that age. It just happened to be the first example that came to mind when I was thinking of how to introduce the topic I want to explore today… !
With ourselves, warts and all.
”Sweeping things under the carpet” – one thing us humans do a cracking job at. Especially us Brits. Unfortunately though, doing this creates a mountain. More work for ourselves, the more time goes on – mentally, especially.
The reason I got interested in exploring this topic (sorry if it feels a bit heavy) was because of a very intense morning. In many ways, it’s been plenty of evidence to safely say that putting things on top of the carpet is always the safer option for everyone. It might not feel it temporarily, but in order to move forward in peace.
This is the last time I discuss the groups we have at the Unit, purely because of what came out of today. And because the group was very much about this blog and the use/impact of social media on recovery, and the whole idea about what you’re reading right now.
I sensed it coming to be honest. There was something not right in the atmosphere this morning; I knew some patients on the Unit knew about this online outlet of mine, and I was always VERY wary of how it might affect others, something so close to home. That’s why at first I was very hesitant about accepting friend requests on Facebook, or sharing this blog around. NOT because I had anything to hide… but because I knew that this form of expression would be brutally raw and honest.
And the very last thing I wanted to do was upset anyone.
As my motivations behind this blog were with the best intentions – for my own therapy most of all, but to share awareness of the misunderstood mind-set of an Eating Disorder, although I knew it was risky putting my inner thoughts into the public, it felt right and so I went with it. My experience isn’t anyone else’s. I knew this was going to make me vulnerable, but if I’m being the truest version of myself, and am promoting self-development on a general level as well as eating disorder recovery, I don’t see how I could go far wrong.
Except I did a bit. When you’re wrapped up in something, as I have done with this blog for a few weeks now (and by god it’s been my life-saver) it’s easy to let boundaries slip. I admit I over-stepped the mark – it came to my attention today that I shouldn’t have been writing about what other patients had shared within groups.
At the time of writing, I had debated it myself but because I’ve never included anyone’s names, I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong because I had maintained confidentiality. But what I realised that by choosing to write about the patients’ personal experiences, EVEN though it was for a very positive reason, it still wasn’t respecting their feelings. I hadn’t realised that if a patient were to read this blog and saw their contribution to the group publicly discussed, it might make them feel uncomfortable. And I don’t want them to feel like they can’t speak out in groups in case it gets publicly shared.
I think I needed to hear this as it was something that I myself, had subconsciously swept under the carpet. Without any intention to cause harm…
…so I have deleted the post I am referring to.
What I did stand my ground for however, was the fact that yes, this blog is honest. I’m honest with myself and I’m honest with you. Because that’s what’s going to give me the best chance of recovery. If my intentions were to encourage Anorexia, and I was discussing that I wanted to lose weight/was against recovery, then I can see how it would be a viscous thing to even consider sharing.
But what you are reading right now has intentions for the COMPLETE opposite. Every challenge, inner fight with destructive thought, food experience, conflict between irrational and rational thoughts is really going on, and in different heads and bodies, a similar thing is going on around the world for people. Except we don’t talk about it very much.
Or if we do, it’s with the door closed, amongst whispers or sprinkled with gold glitter and tip-toed around.
As controversial as it is, just as if someone wanted to talk about their battle with cancer/recovery from a broken hip/going through a gender transformation, would you think bad of them to talk about the gruesome parts of their treatment?
I never disregarded that some patients would struggle to read some things that I post. Especially with regards to food choices, behaviours etc. And I had messaged a few girls that I realised may come across my blog, just to give them a heads up that I was very honest in my writing, and that if they were easily triggered, not to read it/access the link. But then I went on to say that if they did happen to come across anything they found uncomfortable to read, to talk to me personally about it because the last thing I want to do is upset anyone.
Except the topic got fired out like a cannon ball in this morning’s group.
This at first made me feel very embarrassed, ashamed and attacked. I felt very exposed and vulnerable but then realised – but that was the risk I CHOSE to take. I didn’t sign myself up to a blog website lightly. I felt upset that it had become this big group debate, when the individual(s) concerned could have approached me personally to discuss it first.
I was completely accepting to take all feedback/thoughts involved around social media/blogging in relation to Eating Disorder recovery. As I predicted would happen, it was raised that some things were uncomfortable to read because of being able to relate with something they were personally struggling with. I’ve found this personally myself when I’ve come across things shared online.
But as it was ALSO raised, we all make our own choices about what we choose to click on. If you were told there was a book with upsetting pictures in the library on shelf C, aisle 42 – would you walk yourself down there to go fish it out, open the pages and expose yourself to it even though you knew exactly how it would make you feel… ?
It got me thinking just recently, why are we so scared of the truth? If it’s not set out to hurt anybody, why do we fear what’s real? If we feel negative, we have to question where is the weakness in us? Let it motivate you to want to become a stronger person in yourself. Rather than sweep it under the carpet, polish your sword and work on the bits of you that you need to change so you don’t need to suffer your own negative thoughts and insecurities any longer.
Why am I letting this get to me? What nerve is it personally touching for me? How can I work on myself in order to feel strong enough next time? Can I let this be MORE motivation to work on the bits of me that are making me unhappy? Why am I triggered?
The most obvious reason, is that avoiding the truth, always feels easier in that moment than facing it head on. But in the long-run, you deny facing what’s really holding you back. You miss out later on in the fulfilment/enjoyment in life that you deserve.
For me, when I’ve recently felt negatively about something said/or being treated in a certain way, I have tried to remind myself that I am making my own reality every day. If I want to feel differently, and whatever’s going on outside can’t be changed, I can change what’s going on inside me. And it’s no quick-fix or overnight cure by any means. That’s why I’m constantly on a journey of self-discovery and why I am scrutinising my every thought every day during this inpatient journey. It’s frustrating and difficult and all sorts of things – but I’m trying to learn something from every difficult experience.
It’s bloody hard, and it’s always easy to blame the things around us that affecting us, but as harsh as it sounds, we really can only create our own happiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no happy guru by any means. I’m probably the absolute opposite at the moment. Hence me doing something stupid this morning. I always worry what others think of me anyway and am always conscious about being a ‘bad’ person or causing anyone harm, so when this topic got out I felt like Hitler or something. I felt completely embarrassed and my head was looking for justification that it’s true I’m not a likeable person. That I’m a bad person. That I must be attention-seeking for writing a blog about something so personal to me.
Again, as I just explained, I have no-one to blame for this but MY brain. The way I’ve conditioned myself to think and am working on changing influenced my destructive behaviour. Sometimes suffering feels easier than allowing yourself to feel the uncertain positive, out of fear of losing that feeling. Suffering for some people, becomes so familiar that it feels even more painful to give that up.
I had to leave the group because I felt so angry at myself. (before I realised that I wasn’t a bad person because I stick by my positive purposes of this. AND it has literally been a life-saver to help me express myself)
I cried for many reasons – the fear of losing this blog as a tool for self-expression and being trapped, alone with my thoughts. The embarrassment. The fear of everyone hating my now that everyone was fully aware of my blog. The anger at myself – how could I be so stupid to talk about something someone shared in a group and disrespect them like that? The hatred towards myself.
Lots of irrational/compulsive thoughts swept me away, as they do in a heated moment. The vase holding gorgeous flowers my Uncle bought me, needed to be smashed… the positive quotes blu-tacked to my wardrobe needed to be ripped off. Or I needed to walk out of here and never face anyone else here again.
I resisted all of that, trying to talk myself round and calm down. The hatred towards myself got too much and I felt like I needed to punish myself to get rid of the thoughts of guilt. How was I ever going to face going into that dining room when I have embarrassed myself in front of all those other patients? Have I actually done something really bad without knowing it? What if this blog is actually a really evil thing but I’m too evil to even notice it?
I did something stupid at first to quieten the thoughts, grabbing the scissors on my bed. But to my head I wasn’t ‘brave’ enough to cause much harm, and actually it pro-longed the pain with some pathetic scratching. Even the embarrassment of not being able to hurt myself that way added to the guilt/pathetic-ness I was already feeling.
The next, more immediate thing I could turn to was the wall. I needed the guilt to stop so I found comfort in banging my forehead. The breaks in between banging it felt like a comfort until it became soothing and I couldn’t feel anything. The action in itself became addictive, and all I needed to do temporarily to stop the guilt was to turn to the wall.
I felt detached from myself and very bizarre in that moment, but I think it was also heightened by the fact I was now accepting that I didn’t have my Eating Disorder to turn to when I was feeling so shit. In fact, knowing that I’d CHOSEN not to want it anymore, was harder. Because now I didn’t know how to cope with my self-destructive thoughts. Part of me was angry that I’d decided to want to recover because I now had no coping mechanism for when I felt so inadequate in myself and a failure.
This was further evidence to me that there is a lot to work on with my own thought processes if I want things to be healthy/different. If I want to cope with life better without turning to compulsive behaviours. And it’s all, as usual a constant learning curve, every day.
It was easier to sweep the guilt and shame under the carpet by engaging in my self-destructive behaviour TEMPORARILY. But what does it achieve in the long-run? Well, I have an egg-head. A bump I’ll be very pissed off about for the next few days when putting my make-up on in the morning. I guess the one thing is that it’s a life-lesson and makes you one-step closer to self-awareness.
From now on, I won’t be discussing what anyone says in groups. And will refrain from mentioning anyone else at all. So I publicly apologise if anyone has ever been negatively affected.
But I have chosen to continue this blog, because I know what’s right and working for me. By choosing not to, I wouldn’t be fighting for myself. My Eating Disorder doesn’t like honesty, and I don’t think anyone else’s do either. So it’s time to be real.