A big COVID-excluded hello to you! It’s been a minute… well, 7 months and 11 days to be precise.
But… if we’re talking REAL time (aka without the COVID-infested few months we’ve had – because, let’s face it – did those days really exist?? And also, just to add – why does such a pestering virus that’s boring us all now, have to officially be spelt with uppercase letters, as if it’s not already enough in your face??) …it probably actually feels about 2 months since I last blogged.
Yes, I’m still alive. Since that last post (about why fats are friendly and should be named ‘strength’ and ‘vitality’ – sick of the bloody stigma around them, the poor loves)… it’s been quite a time to say the least. I was working weekends with a fantastic role model of a woman who runs her own very successful dog training business. Whilst battling Bulimia on evenings, I would still forever be inspired to keep getting my wellies on early morning (to welcome cute puppies to the classes and photograph them for the Facebook business page) – even on the soggy, wintery days… because she was just a fireball for your positive brain power. Just to breathe the same air as her.
I would say #girlboss – but actually that’s a bit anti-feminist nowadays. Turns out, she also had similar demons in the past too, so understood me on similar level. Compared to Anorexia and the still, I feel (especially on Instagram) glamorised eating disorder (been there, done that, got the t-shirt – and the bradycardia, the NG tube, the wiring up to a heart monitor because it was weakening by the day – whilst still going off to do exercises in the hospital toilets, the ‘smuggling sweeteners in a sock onto an eating disorder unit just to get my fix of sweet empty calories in me coffee’ experience… to go with it. That’s just one party bag of treats from a full range on the shelf. But we’ll save them for eventually writing and illustrating this book (not a woe-is-me one, but I’m hoping quite an entertaining, yet secretly informative/uplifting read…)
But it’s almost like if you meet someone else who’s experienced Bulimia, and is a ‘normal’ size or overweight, it’s like Chinese whispers when communicating about it. That’s partly why I’m so open on here, and will never apologise for it – because this taboo needs to be ‘booed’ outta there.
Anyway, won’t write a dissertation about the last 7 months – but as much as I enjoyed the helping out at puppy classes, gradually the depressive grey cloud that tends to double in size each day that I’m struggling with binging and/or purging was becoming blinding. I can’t tell you how gutting it feels to have to ‘quit’ stuff that’s really great in my life, because the eating disorder sucks the energy out of it. But so it happened. As I now (kind of) work for my local mental health services as a community representative and non-exec director (sounds posher than it is), I guess I tried to rationalise that something needed to give. Because ever since I got that role last October – which was such a huge deal for me and my way of life after being in and out of hospital/therapy for years… mentally, it’s been life trying to spin porcelain plates. The biggest plates each day are my eating disorder, thoughts around food, the hatred for my body (currently giving my all to work on this) and so much as planning around food constantly/worrying financially when it’s become a very bingey-purgey time. So extra plates – basically any other commitment, is a risk and I feel like I need 3 extra hands.
But of course my hope is, that as I recover (yes I am a genuine wanting-to-fully-recover lass, not just a making-a-blog-out-of-my-suffering gal) these everyday porcelain ugly plates (the ED/body stuff) will shrink in size until I no longer have to put energy into spinning them at all any more. And all the important stuff to me will be easier to balance and focus on. And if I had my choice, the plates that mean the most to me will be mustard colour/pastel green/banana leaf-decorated. I like the idea that you CAN be in control of your life. That you are a consequence of your decisions – and therefore I get to choose the colour of the plates I spin!
To summarise the past 7 months after quitting positive puppy-training work – (almost) finished DBT therapy – which was individual session once a week and a group session once a week… but, as they don’t allow any other therapy alongside (so not being able to talk about my eating disorder with someone who understands) I struggled too much to attend some of the sessions, so officially didn’t ‘complete’ the course. Then, had to fight for a second opinion to get eating disorder therapy again, had an assessment in Leeds after writing a letter, took months like anything, struggled loads in between, had a couple of overdoses just to briefly stop the pain of the eating disorder and not being able to escape it – did some positive stuff in between like portrait commissions, decorated my office/art space during lockdown (and I now bloody love spending time in here), walked Hagrid some days – didn’t walk him others as I was too self-conscious about anyone seeing me, then got into a depressive spiral and spent days in bed – either starving or binging and purging, not showering for months. Then, I couldn’t take it, so started researching and fantasising about ways to kill myself. I knew deep down I really didn’t want to but I also couldn’t see a way out. The fact I also have had to fight to get therapy that’s going to help me also makes me feel like I don’t deserve it. So fast forward to about a month ago – ligatures, crisis team, hospital, sectioned, people watching me wee/asleep… spent 9 days not eating anything because I couldn’t face food and I was terrified if I started then I wouldn’t stop.
But… thinking about Hagrid (my dog) and deep down my ambitions (I have loads), my family whilst having that break from food and basically sleeping all day whilst in hospital, I finally grew some strength to start ‘making change’. (oh, and learnt how to ‘do’ art on the iPad as didn’t fetch my pencils!) Having a shower for the first time in months – actually undressing and having to touch my body, was such a painful, yet party-popper moment. As painful as it was, I felt like I’d accomplished something miniscule yet huge. This is something I was determined to keep up – so after that first shower, I decided to ‘commit’ to 2 showers a day – all emotions exposed. Because if I could manage it once, then I know it could never be harder than that first time?
And so, fast forward 2 weeks in hospital and 2 weeks being home – I’m pleased to say that personal shower contract with myself, has been followed! (and yes I am eating 3 meals a day + snacks – although yes, I do struggle) There was no way though I was letting Anorexia become the main person in my life again. No bloody chance. Even if I have to struggle through Bulimia to get to that ‘healthy’ place of being in that middle ground, I’d much rather do that. So that’s what I’m doing.
Realised I’ve proper babbled – so if you’ve reached this point, congrats. I take my hat off to you. It started off quite constructively I thought… and then I suppose I needed to vent 7 months’ worth of crap so we can all move on with our lives. Basically, since last at hospital I now have 2 care co-ordinators (not sure why, but it’s lovely and all that) …and I FINALLY begin the long-awaited eating disorder outpatient therapy this coming week! Mixed emotions, but I am very excited to start this new chapter. I’ve had goals in mind for a long time, and I know where I am heading – sometimes you just need that right person and helping hand to get you there, and finally they’ve arrive and I am so happy.
It’s good to be back in this safe/weird/exposing place… to be back typing away. I’m a bit of a geek for words (oh and also currently doing a copywriting course, which I’m bloody loving – so that’s another lockdown positive!)
Thanks for sticking with me folks if you have, I’m hoping to use this blog a little more productively from here on. Rather than venting, to create informative but entertaining posts – related to food/mental health/recovery/body image. All that shizzle. Think this site needs a bit of a revamp, as let’s face it – it looks pretty naff, so at some point will be attempting a bit of a glow-up!
Have a tasty, self-caring, empowering rest of the weekend. (if not all of the time at least 10% of it, please…)
Now, off for me lunch before taking the dog for a walk with (coincidentally, a friend I made at one of my eating disorder admissions years ago – who is my mum’s age and I now see as an Auntie). Dogs have preserved some of our sanity – and I think once you own one, you naturally adapt to become more spontaneous, more playful (aka less eating disorder-driven).
GP’s should prescribe puppies.
(art included is one of my iPad experiments in hospital – inspired by a photo from the internet – so I can’t take credit for the actual model… but I’m all for the ‘real/average size’ body posi)