Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting angry

Writing letters to the ED was surprisingly hard. I found it really difficult to talk to the ED voice as something separate to me. It's my voice that I hear, so I assume that it is me that is choosing to eat or not eat, to exercise to fixate on weight or size, to try and control anxiety by focussing instead on food.

But as I tried to write, focussing first on the ED as a friend and the benefits it brought me, I found myself getting angry. Because this 'friend' wasn't such a good friend really. It fed me lies and deceived me. It caused me pain. By the time I got to writing to the ED as an enemy, I was furious. I've had years stolen from me. Friendships ruined. I've been isolated and am unhappy. The conclusion I drew: ED you have stolen my life.

The depth and intensity of emotion surprised me. I think it is mainly because I don't separate me from the ED. Instead I feel as if I am to blame - for the decisions and choices that I have made. Even when it doesn't feel like I can choose any differently at the moment, it is still me who initially made the choices that have lead me to where I am now. So am I angry at myself? Or is S right when she says that I need to separate the ED voice from me, and rediscover who I am and what I want?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Externalising the eating disorder

I saw a new therapist this week - S. So much more helpful than anyone else I've ever seen before. There is much in favour of someone who has suffered an E.D. themselves helping others. There are things that they just 'get'. For me the moment of connection came when S said 'part of the disorder is an ambivalence, a reluctance to getting better. It's not necessarily a matter of an unwillingness.'

She pointed out to me that I find it hard to externalise the eating disorder and seem to not be able to treat it as a mental illness, but feel that it is a part of me, a part of me that is a huge failure. My homework for this week is to write two letters. One to my eating disorder the friend, with all the reasons to continue as I am and one to my eating disorder the enemy, addressing all the things it has taken away from me.

It's like a pro/con list of recovery in a different form. Will let you know how I go.

Friday, May 21, 2010


So tomorrow I am having a belated birthday breakfast with 3 friends. I am anxious about it, because it will be the first time I have eaten food before midday in over a month.

I know that eating breakfast is normal and good. I know that it is exactly what my GP has been encouraging me to do for the last 3 weeks. But already I am doing battle in my head, wondering how to restrict the rest of the day to make up for the failure that will be tomorrow morning.

It makes me sad that it takes so much effort.

My birthday itself was earlier in the week ... and was celebrated with a couple of skim lattes and dinner, which was rice with tomato and kidney beans that A made.

I had my legs waxed rather than eating lunch. That makes so much sense doesn't it?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Letters to friends

So, how do you tell your friends about what is going on? In the end, I decided email was the way to go for me.

Here is the letter I sent my dear friend D yesterday.

Hi D,

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

So, this is an email I'm sending because it's hard for me to talk
about, and having just spent a chunk of time with A this morning
she made me promise that I'd let you know what's really going on for
me in a bit more detail, because I need to start being more honest
with my friends so that I can be honest with myself and make some

I know we've talked in bits and pieces, and I kinda assume that you
have filled in some of the gaps ... But here goes.

I'm really struggling at the moment, and physically that is
manifesting itself through an eating disorder on top of the anxiety
and stress. I've struggled with this on and off for the last 17 years.
At the moment I am eating 1 meal a day, and losing weight slowly.
After so many years my metabolism is stuffed and my body is fighting
to not be underweight. Which I know is a good thing, but sometimes I
wish that it would match the mess I feel like on the inside and show
people how much I am hurting.

I guess if I've learnt anything in this time it is that it's not about
appearance- for me it is in some ways a way to manage anxiety by
controlling what I eat. But it takes on a life
of it's own and I've become contolled and scared to eat. I think for
years because I wasn't underweight I've thought it wasn't really a
problem- I wasn't really sick. And on top of that, it's not like I'd
been abused or had a really bad relationship with my mother or was
afraid to grow up, so I didn't fit the mold in my head of what someone
with an eating disorder looked like. Add to that the conviction that
as a Christian I couldn't be so selfish and shallow and where did that
leave me?

And it's like the eating disorder rears it's head when I am stressed and anxious
about other things and becomes the focus of my energy so I don't have
to deal with other things. So I can feel worthless and useless, but I
don't have to deal with that if I spend my energy thinking about
calories and fat and exercise instead.  Similarly with the stress of
feeling overwhelmed in the mth or by Greek or at church.

I'm not writing this because I need you to DO anything as such, but
because part of the power of this disease is in the secrecy. As one of
my good friends, I need to be honest with you about how broken I am.
And that the impact at the moment is to keep shutting
myself off from everyone and not do anything social at all. And I do
need some help in pulling myself out of that hole. Food
is scary at the moment, which makes any social event hard because they
always seem to be about food. But I know that I can't keep shutting
myself of from the world, so some help from you in that would be
really great!

I'm getting some professional help. My gp has been great. The new
psychologist not so much. I've stopped seeing her and am waiting to
see and Ed specialist to try and untangle what's going on in my head.

If you can keep praying, that would be great.  And if you've got
questions, ask. Telling you is much easier via email, but it makes
talking about it later easier too.

Wow- if you made it this far I'm impressed! Thanks for perservering!

Talk soon,

Friday, April 9, 2010

My story

Aged 16, competitive swimmer hits puberty, and the weight starts to pile on. A video taken from behind shows just how big my behind had become. A friend begins to struggle with Ana. I'd spend the day with her, eating the same as she did, but would come home hungry and eat, hating my lack of self control.

So at 17 I welcomed Mia into my life. But I was never really one to binge. To me, a binge was to eat what I 'shouldn't'. So if I'd decided not to eat a biscuit that day, but then gave in and eat one, I'd throw it up. I discovered that I even had the ability to throw up an apple. I never put my fingers down my throat - I could make myself 'feel' ill by listening to the voices in my head that said that I was hopeless and worthless.

In 17 years my weight has fluctuated 14kgs - but I've never been out of the 'healthy weight range' according to my BMI. At my highest weight I had a BMI of 24.8. At my lowest (and current weight) I have a BMI of 19.8.

It hasn't been a constant struggle. At about 22 I said goodbye to Mia. I could see that throwing up wasn't the best coping strategy in the world. In many ways I've never really been able to explain how I was able to get better ... so in subsequent relapses I haven't been able to look back on what worked before and re-utilize those skills.

But a common theme was that whenever I was in a new situation, I'd struggle and use disordered eating as a way to cope. A new job, starting to study again ... the same difficulties would re-surface. It's as if instead of dealing with what was going on and bothering me, I'd instead get all funny about what I was, or wasn't eating. Focussing on food and weight helped me to not worry about the other things that were going on.

But deep down, there was also an underlying theme ... a deep feeling of unworthiness. I don't really know where it came from (or is it comes from?). But I really don't like me. And being fat makes me feel worse. I want to be small, thin, to disappear into the background.

So fast-forward to now. I'm back to the lowest weight I've been since I was a teenager. But I'm still not thin, still not little and still feel horrible about me.

And there is a part of me that is saying just lose 4 more kgs so that you become 'officially' sick and can admit that there is a problem and get some help. Because right now I feel like I'm way too fat to have an eating disorder. And it's gone on too long.

Cos if I'm going to fail at life, then I can at least do it while being little.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I read on another blog that it was not fair that anorexics got Ana, bulimics got Mia and EDNOS got nothing, so let's take Edna.

And I like it. Cos it is the old-lady kinda ugly name that embodies this disorder.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am the only EDNOS that feels like a failure. It's like a diagnosis that says: you are not quite sick enough for us to help. It's like - lose xkgs more, and they you'll meet the clinical definition of Ana. Or learn to throw up 3 times a week, then you'll be Mia.

It's crazy thinking, but I can't quite stop it.

And part of me keeps thinking, just lose those xkgs more to get you to the diagnosis, to be really sick and allow someone to help.