Environment and eating patterns & a bit of a ramble…

I have never really noticed it before, but where I am seems to have a big effect on what food I eat. Being in my hometown for a week has made me fall back into the patterns I had when I used to live here. Granted, my newer ones aren’t any more “normal” or better but there are specific foods which I plan into my days allowance when I am here, instead of some things I would normally have nowadays.

Funny eh?

I guess this just reinforces that ED’s are more about emotions and feelings than anything else, as I connect certain food patterns with different places.

On another note, I am feeling like I am totally unable to show my real emotions at home. I can’t pinpoint why but however I feel, my guard is always up and I can’t tell my parents that I love them or that I’ve missed them while I have been away, even though I have had so much contact with my Mum. I am constantly aware that they are thinking about my weight, or my eating disorder and judging what I am doing. As parents I know that they will worry out of care, but it just makes me feel like such a useless child because I’m living away from home and still managing to cause them worry. The “ill” bit of my brain couldn’t care less about any of that. It says I don’t deserve to be comfortable with my family until I am thinner and better. I feel weak for giving into it; it tells me I am weak if I don’t. When will I win?!

Sometimes in your life you will go on a journey. It will be the longest journey you have ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself.
Katherine Sharp 

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How To Stop Feeling Hungry — A Tip From Yours Truly

This so perfectly articulates the frustration I feel when people assume I don’t feel hunger and live in some energy filled bubble. The reality is that expressing lack of hunger is a way of escaping having to face my fear: food/ fat. Thank you for posting something that has reminded me my feelings of hunger don’t make me weak and that I do have a problem because I deny what my body tells me.

Eating Disorder Criteria

I’m sure there are a million and 1 posts about this, but I just felt like putting my opinion out there. Now I have settled into what I am calling a “comfortable” phase of my restrictive disorder, I am looking back on the past few years and trying to work out what the technical name for it all would be…

At the time of my diagnosis my disorder was “Atypical” purely because my weight had gone a little above the anorexia criteria due to bulimic behaviour springing from nowhere as a result of the stress of getting and waiting for treatment. Essentially I have gone between these two states of feeling terrified of food and then feeling compelled to eat without really being aware, and subsequently purging, taking laxatives and obsessively exercising.

If someone were to try and stick a label on me now, I think it would be difficult. As not all the separate phases have been significant in length. Right now I’m in an anorexic phase and have been for a long while, but who knows when that is going to change.

The criteria are too black and white in my opinion, considering how grey and undefined it feels to be the disordered person. Everybody has different thought patterns etc, even if they have the same diagnosis and it just seems to me that eating disorders only get worse when somebody is turned away and told they do not have a problem because of some minute and unimportant detail. Surely, if you weigh 2 pounds over the  cut off but are having your life disabled by a fear of food, fat and numerous physical complaints you do still have a problem? What if you purge but not frequently enough? The EDNOS category is one that often makes people feel “not sick enough” and almost encourages them into further trouble in pursuit of having their problem validated.

I don’t know… just been thinking a lot lately about what makes me different to someone who is obsessively dieting and lets themselves eat chocolate every now and again! For me I have concluded it is the exaggerated version of dieting psychology and the extreme physical feelings (tiredness, stomach pain, coldness etc) and that when I do eat outside my safe foods, it is never acceptable and I am NEVER able to move on without engaging in compensatory, unhealthy behaviours.

Hopefully the diagnostic criteria will place more attention on the feelings and thoughts of the person and not just stare at non negotiable facts.

Misconceptions and my experience of “illness”

It constantly surprises me that the media is so full of stories of eating disorders, but people are so ill-informed of what they truely entail. 

From an outside point of view, an ED is just about a desire to diet, or be thin, or gain attention. While all of these might be somewhat true, the motives that make me want to deny myself food are nothing to do with my body; all my emotions just get related back to food and weight somehow. At the heart of any kind disordered eating is an emotional instability- a feeling of being lost, out of control or unhappy. And as a way to cope and manage my life I, and others like me, SUBCONSCIOUSLY chose to restrict food. Starving the body of what it needs ultimately leads to a binge (even in the most severely underweight people this does happen) and then the stricter diet or purging kicks in to compensate. 

In my own experience, I have found that the “bulimic” blips of my illness make me so much more depressed than the consistent underlying feeling of worthlessness that not eating gives me. Having to purge, over exercise or take laxatives to “fix” how bad I have been by eating is more stressful and emotional than not having eaten in the first place. But of course a hungry body does not have the energy to reason properly and feel happy on the inside, even though I know that I am often perceived to be a laid back and funny individual on the outside.

A day in my life is full of good things and lovely people, yet it is dragged down by this other voice that persists in telling me the way to make my life better is to eat less, be thinner, be in control of everything. The irony is that the eating disorder voice has complete and utter control of me. I no longer have a say in anything, despite my intelligent self telling me that rigid and abnormal food patterns will not take away my negative emotions or the difficult things I have been through in my life. Everything that is logical and justified can always be ignored, as the voice tells me “that’s true for others, but not for me.”

For anybody who thinks I just want to be thin, this is what a day in an eating disorder mind is like:

-Wake up: feel tired, wish I could sleep and not go out so nobody would see how much fat I have.
-Eat breakfast (sometimes) Only feel ok with this if it is the exact amount and nobody else sees.
-Get dressed: spend masses of time looking at every angle in the mirror to determine where I have or haven’t lost weight. Although some days I am too distraught at my appearance that looking in the mirror makes me cry and I have to stop.
-Go to wherever I need to go: notice the body shape and size of almost everyone I see, comparing myself with them and feeling good if they are eating and I am not.
-Think about what and when I have next planned to eat and drink: is it too much? What if people are around? What if somebody makes a comment? Should I really be eating at all? Will I have done enough exercise to earn eating at all today?
-Go through my working/ studying day thinking about when I will have time “alone with my illness” to plan food for the coming days, think about what I can wear or to sit and cry about how difficult things are becoming.
-Go home, and repeat the people observations on the way and have the same thoughts about upcoming food plans for the evening.
-Take some laxatives if I feel too fat, go for a walk.
-Have a anxiety attack if I eat out of the plan or have a binge. Throw up, exercise for 4 hours or do both just to be certain I have got rid of all that disgusting fat.
-Go to bed: wake up several times, and if not, have nightmares where I eat forbidden foods.
Wake up and repeat.

All of the above is worse when things in general life make me feel negative. When bad things happen, I turn to food as a means to numb those feelings and worries. Do I want attention? Rarely. Do I do it just to be thin? No. Do I have some weird power where I don’t feel hungry or crave food? Definitely not. In fact, I think about food 24.7, but my disorder doesn’t let me eat normally. I could have a worse life, in a country full of war, or live in poverty with nobody to care about me. I appreciate that I live in a country where life is comfortable and I have people who love me, but quite frankly, there are and have been many times when my eating disorder has made me feel I would be better off if I didn’t exist.

Doctors: do they really care?

I keep asking myself if any of the doctors I see actually care at all about my situation. I know there must be GP’s out there who really do love their job and work hard to help everyone, but right now I don’t feel like one of their lucky patients.

Whatever I say, and however honest I try to be, I never feel as though I have enough of a problem to be listened to, or they don’t have enough time for me, or they simply do not understand what eating disorders feel like. I thought empathy was meant to be a strength of a doctor?!

Either way I am currently waiting (as always) for blood test results and an appointment with another different doctor. I would like to be optimistic and feel as though I can get the help I need to spur the tiny piece of me that wants to get better on…. but I’m not. I’m bored and stressed of waiting around and feeling insignificant.

Doubt

Today I am doubting my disorder. I do really know that it is there, as that other voice, the guilt, the extreme reactions are all very strong nowadays. Ironically it is the doctor who makes me feel not “ill enough” and insignificant, which fills me with anger. I bet they have no clue what it feels like to be this way and just how difficult it is to go to appointments with an honest approach. Even when I try to be specific and open I seem to get no closer to getting the help that I know I need to get myself out of this.

Of course I am content with staying in my current frame of mind most of the time, but the really tricky moments remind me why I should try to change. I am far too aware of how this will only happen with outside assistance and I am terrified of not getting what I have asked for. All I hope is that I can keep holding it together as much as possible, and that next time I go to an appointment it is better than the last one. 

Long time, no write…

It has been ages since I last wrote on here (life has been hectic!) A lot of things have changed since my last post, and all of a sudden my day to day life is completely different to what it was just a few weeks ago.

Most of the new things I am experiencing are brilliant and I feel so lucky to have such opportunities. But, as with pretty much everything, not all of it has been a walk in the park. I do think that I have done quite well to keep the very worst days at bay for the most part though…

Mixing in a new place has shown me just how much all of my problems have taught me about dealing with others. I seem to be more patient and tolerate than lots of the people here, and I’m certain that’s because I know what it feels like to be “different.” I guess there are always positives and negatives to be taken from everything. 

“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.”