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Beating ED, eating disorders, overcoming obstacles, Recovery, respect, Uncategorized, women in the workplace

Love Handles

In recovery, one of the hardest things that I have to deal with are comments about my weight. People often mean well, but these ‘observations’ sting, every time with a newfound pain. For me, a part of my eating disorder revolved around other’s opinions. Sure, I purged for myself – desperately clinging on to any form of control, trying to achieve the perfect body. But a massive part of my ED was about how others viewed me. Did they think I was skinny? Did they see the massive whale that I saw in the mirror? Often, if someone would ever compliment my body, I would grab my stomach or bingo wings and exclaim: “What, you think this is beautiful? You need your eyes checked.” Or, I would say nothing. Blush quietly and smile, while the voices in my head twisted their kind words into hateful thorns, pricking me until I bled out.

I have recently started a new job. It totally revolves around teamwork and camaraderie; we all help each other to get the job done quicker. However, last night, something shook me so badly that I am questioning whether to go back. Many of my colleagues are romanian, and they often speak to each other in their language. Last night, someone told me that while I was working, one of my male co-workers called me fat. “Look at that chubby one. So cute.”

Now, to many, that sounds almost like a compliment. ‘He meant it as a joke! Don’t be so sensitive’. But when you have an eating disorder, being called fat, however said, can be absolutely detrimental, both to mental and physical health. I was in the middle of my shift, and I felt like my heart had been shattered with a sledgehammer, the sharp pieces injecting themselves in my lungs, cutting my breath short. I had spent almost three years in fear of this kind of comment. It had finally grabbed me by the hair, pulling with all it’s might. As I carried on my shift, robotic smile sullenly plastered on my face, I realised. As we work, we often give each other small touches on the shoulder or arm to show that we are there for one another. But where does this stop? The male co-worker in question had been squeezing my ‘love handles’, the small area of fat that just spills over my jeans above my hips, every chance he could get. Waiting in line for our orders. Behind the bar, making drinks. As he walked past me. A couple of times, these touches even went below the belt. I put it down to a friendly touch, to let me know he was there. The same way that I touched the girls in the restaurant. But it wasn’t. This comment, paired with the inappropriate touches, could have meant a month of starving myself. I could have run to the toilet and stayed there, making myself puke until I was numb. Or, the suicidal thoughts could kick in. It only takes one comment to send one spiralling.

I talked to my co-workers, who both said that they had experienced the same thing. We all decided to go to the boss, who handled the situation very well. I received an apology, but he will never understand how this will affect me. My superviser couldn’t promise me that he will be fired. I might have to see this man every day until I leave, and leaving now is not an option. Simply, I need the money. Even thinking about seeing him again is putting a lump in my throat. Seeing his best friend, who may or may not know about the situation (they speak romanian, remember?), who may hate me because I got her friend, someone who has worked there for fifteen years, sacked? Honestly, I am shaking.               The manipulation and control of women in the workplace is still happening in this day and age. This fact makes me sick. What makes me even more sick is that if I didn’t have my ED, I would have let the inappropriate touches go. Dismissed them. It was the comment that spurred me into action, and for that I am lucky. However, I now have to go back into work, somewhere that I no longer feel comfortable. Because of one man. Because of a touch. Because of a comment.

These comments, especially in the workplace, have to stop. These touches do not represent camaraderie. They are not nice. We don’t ask for them. We don’t want them. But how can we stop them? I am lucky that I had my co-workers by my side. Many don’t.

It is nearly 2018. When is enough enough?

eating disorders, media

Food For Thought

 

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an eating disorder: reverse anorexia. It’s when I look in the mirror and think I’m really skinny.” – Lisa Gopman

I read this ‘joke’ this morning when it popped up on my Facebook feed. The joke is currently published on the Comedy Central website, labelled under ‘funny jokes’. I’m not sure if I’m alone here, but I did not find this at all funny. In fact, I found it incredibly sad and hurtful. I re-read it about ten times, totally shocked at what my eyes were trying to register.

Seeing this immature ‘joke’ go into the world of social media with absolutely no repercussions angered me to no end. How is it possible that we live in a world where eating disorders are being joked about in the worst way? I shut it down, excusing it, saying it was just one joke. But as I watched an old episode of Family Guy, the same thing happened. I don’t really enjoy it, if I’m honest, but I’m ok with the fact that they seem to poke fun at touchy subjects. In the episode that I was watching, eating disorders were actually encouraged! A scene from season 6, episode 9 depicts a normal sized female character in conversation with a well-known Hollywood star.

James Woods: “Now, Meg, you want to be thin like all the Hollywood starlets, right?

Meg: “Yeah, but I love to eat.”

James Woods: “Well, I’ve got a way that you can eat all you want and look like a Hollywood starlet. Meg, let me introduce you to Mr. Pukey. Hiya, Meg.”

Meg: “Hi.”

James Woods: “Gosh, Mr. Pukey, you sure are good at making fat women hot. You think you could help out my friend Meg here? Yeah, I think I could give her a… hand. Now close your eyes, Meg, and let Mr. Pukey help you out.”

(Meg throws up)

James Woods: “When did Reese Witherspoon get here?”

At the time, I brushed over it. It was just a joke, right? But the real message later hit me; they were advocating bulimia. Intentional or unintentional, eating disorders are not a joke. The fact that these horrific ordeals are being joked about in this day and age is shocking; and even more horrifying is the fact that no-one has done anything about it. Raise all the awareness you like, aspects of society are still viewing mental health, eating orders specifically, as a joke.

I would force my fingers down my throat seven times a day, and would measure and restrict my meagre meals. This is not a joke. I was making terrible, terrible decisions that were disguised as normal. Again, I don’t see this as a joke.  This blog is not a rant about the dangers of the techno world, however, the fact that making yourself puke was seen as normal, as funny, made me believe that what I was doing was right; and I suffer from that naivety every day. One film that particularly struck me was ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. It is a fabulous film; a funny, coming-of-age tale about a young girl finding her feet in the fashion world, though she is a ‘size six’. However, there are many issues with this. Emily, for one, is blatantly anorexic. For those who have seen the film, Emily is the overworked PA of Miranda, the head of a fashion magazine. She is, effectively, the bitchy boss that everyone hates before we understand her job expectations. There is one point in which she explains her diet, claiming that if she feels like she will faint, she eats ‘a cube of cheese’. Not once is her warped relationship with food addressed – it is actually mocked.

In many aspects of cinema and TV, eating disorders as a whole are mocked. ‘She must be bulimic, she keeps going to the bathroom’, or ‘she looks great, but she needs to lose more weight’ were constant reminders that my non-existent relationship with food was alright, because everyone else did it. The feelings of fear and desperation that would run through my head every time my mum would offer me another slice were advocated, sought after. I was strong because I was skinny, because I worked hard to be pretty.

As a society, we must take action to stop eating disorders from being advocated; by mocking mental health, specifically in the ED region, this is what we are doing. Advocating a subject that not only ruins, but ends lives. Mental health is not a joke to poke fun at. For many people, mental health is a daily struggle, a battle with one’s self to leave the house, to eat breakfast, and for some, even to stay alive. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. So why are we allowing big hollywood shows and movies to advocate and normalise mental health? I assure you, it is not normal to feel the way that so many of us do; it should not be normal in our society.

 

Beating ED, expectation vs reality, overcoming obstacles, thefatfeeling

The Sisterhood of the Denim Shorts

Summer. Grey clouds making way for clear blue skies. The soft, telltale hum of an ice cream van driving down the road. Hands that are constantly sticky, hot sands burning the bottoms of your feet as you run into silky waters. For some, the long awaited day of results. For others, an opportunity to finally breathe. For most, a time of relaxation and bliss.

However, for a select few, summer is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Summer is a time of fear. The salty sea is riddled with scantily clad girls while tanned, slim bodies cover the sands. There are no baggy jumpers – shorts, crop tops and bralettes replace the acceptable, comfortable and safe uniform that a sufferer may wear. Missguided’s slogan reads: “The Official Babe Uniform”. They boast size 6 models flaunting high-waisted swimwear, tiny hotpants and barely there skirts. My ‘go to” summer outfit is not one of these options. Before I started suffering from an eating disorder, I always wanted to wear the ‘Babe uniform’, however, being the chubby kid, it was increasingly difficult. As I tried on a particularly small pair of denim hotpants, it dawned on me; Society would not allow me to wear such clothes. These shorts were meant for the slim, for the beauties that I saw in the adverts. They definitely weren’t meant for the whale that stared back at me. After I stopped eating and started visiting the toilet after every meal, I was so proud of my body. I had worked hard for it; so much blood, sweat, tears and vomit had gone into making it what it was: an uncomfortable, unnatural size 8. I say ‘unnatural’ because my skeleton is not made to be a size 8. At a healthy weight, I am destined to be a size 12. However, at the time, I simply couldn’t accept my destiny, my skeleton. I wasn’t happy with the way G-d made me. So I decided to change it. A year after the denim hot pants scene, I was sure that the ‘Babe Uniform’ was waiting; and I was ready for it. As I tried on a skimpy size 6 bikini, I realised that it was baggy. Baggy! A surge of relief, gratitude, pride and fear ran through me. I was a SIZE 6! I was a ‘babe’. Only, I wasn’t. I was just a very sick little girl. I was so intent on showing off my body, flaunting my easily visible ribs and taut stomach. I joined the tanned bodies on the beach. However, as I pulled my tight denim shorts over my thighs after a swim in the sea, I realised that I was entirely uncomfortable. My legs were rubbing against the material, my bikini totally soaking them. Apart from the physical discomfort, I felt like a prize pig being sold to the highest bidder. My entire bum was on show, and while I initially enjoyed the attention, the novelty soon wore off. Why are innocent young girls feeling pressured to look like 20-year-old women? I see the adverts for Missguided, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and they all present the same thing. The ‘Babe Uniform’. Then girls, aged 12-18, run to purchase the newest crochet bikini, adorned with a plunging neckline and stringy bottoms. Girls who haven’t even hit puberty, pressured to look like Kylie Jenner, who Instagrams herself in a sheer bra and knickers. She’s twenty years old. Girls of 12, sauntering along in their padded bras, their ‘cleavage’ pressed up against their crop tops, thanks to a religiously followed youtube tutorial labelled: ‘How to get boobs’. What I want to know is; why can’t kids just be kids? ‘A new age’ seemed nice, but as the adults were playing with their nice new iPhones, Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram formed. Technology surged along, and while the kids caught on, the older generation have no idea as to what goes on behind those shiny screens. So, back to my original argument. Summer is now upon us. In fact, it’s nearly over. And although I’m in recovery, I have still found summer painful. Feeling incredibly fat as I wear my flowery dress while my 11-year-old sister models my denim hot pants from the summer before. Seeing young girls soak up the sun as my stomach flips just watching them feel so comfortable. Slowly taking off my dress to reveal the bikini underneath, wondering if the yummy mummies can see my rolls of fat as they tan with impeccably taut skin, fake boobs brimming over their double D cups. How is it that I am bigger than them when they’ve had three children? Now that the end of summer is approaching, I think that I finally understand. It’s because I’m happy. These people spend all of their time worrying about their appearance. I wasted two years. No more.  I will not wear another pair of uncomfortable shorts, another crop top, when all they do is make me feel like a stranger in my own skin. Make me feel a shaking discomfort so huge that it almost claims my entire holiday.

Last year, I wore the ‘Babe Uniform’ because I could.

This year, I refuse to wear them. Because I can.

 

Uncategorized

Suicide = Selfish?

This post can be extremely triggering to anyone going through a period of recovery from either suicidal thoughts or depression. If any thoughts or feelings arise while reading this post, please refer to http://prevent-suicide.org.uk/ , download the Stay Alive app, or for immediate help, call the Hotline Numbers: 116 123 (Samaritan) or 0800 068 41 41 (Papyrus)

It has taken me two months to write this post, but never has a time felt more right than now to publish it. Recently, two young people in my local community have committed suicide; one, an A-level student, and the other just starting her GCSEs. I can imagine that there have been many, many more. As those of you who have read my previous blogs will know, I don’t cushion the blow of the reality of mental health. I’ve found that people tend to view both eating disorders and depression as an untouchable subject; especially in the Jewish British community – it is not up for discussion because it doesn’t exist.

There is one subject that in my experience of mental health, I have not yet touched upon; suicide.  This is an extremely hard topic for me to discuss, as I am still in the recovery period, and still have blips and relapses, however, this is a matter that needs to be talked about. This is my journey, how I’ve dealt and am dealing with the effects of suicide, and how suicide and suicidal thoughts can be noticed and dealt with. If any topic discussed brings on strong or unwanted feelings, please refer to the numbers and website above.

Exam time. Pressure. Running around like a headless chicken, testing your pens frantically, desperately reading, re-reading, re-re-reading your notes. ‘The worst time of your life.’ For some.

The worst time of my life was the day I tried to commit suicide.

I was careful, ever so careful. I had been planning it for months. A traumatic experience in my summer break (which I plan to talk about in a later post)  had led me back to my old friend, Bulimia, but this relapse had brought with it the darkness of death. Well, of wishing for death. I began to think about death, about what would happen if I did, well, that. What my funeral would look like. If anyone would care about the fat, unloved girl from high school. If I was ever going to be worthy of those around me. If anyone even wanted me around. Thoughts filled my mind every day, desperate thoughts. I used to imagine all the different ways that I could die -and they were so, so detailed. Every little thing had been put into place, every scenario fool proof. At the time, the only thing I couldn’t imagine was acting on them. But this, ladies and gents, is where it all started. Thoughts. Thoughts which led to action.

A reoccurring dream of mine was that I would get a knife, a large one from the kitchen drawer, and I would cut every ounce of fat from my body. I imagined blood pouring from my open wounds, the sharp pain of the first incision, then release. Relief. At least, in death, I could be perfect. Another dream, the main dream, was pills. Easy. Purchase from different shops, then simply swallow. I was sure that I wouldn’t be an angel, but at least I would be remembered as skinny.

What about my family? My friends? The people I would leave behind? As I said, I never believed I would act on my thoughts. Yet, it was not a choice. It was never a choice. I was swept up in death’s loving arms, desperate to leave. To leave this life. To be honest, I truly believed that everyone would be better off without me.

It was just so hard. The trauma I had suffered had left me feeling totally worthless, a failure. The fact that I couldn’t recover from an eating disorder, that I was still so depressed. Then, I got ill. Ill as I was in between recovery and an eating disorder, ill as the stress of trauma, exams and being a teenager had got the better of me. I couldn’t hold it together anymore. It was too hard to care about anyone else. Too exhausting.

Then, the worst thing that could happen, did happen. I was holding out for a specific university offer. The promise of leaving home, of the future where I wouldn’t be known as the ‘girl with the eating disorder’, was my only hope. It was the only thing that kept me going – if I lost this one thing, the one light left to guide me down the tunnel which would lead to happiness, then I was done for. Only, I didn’t receive this offer. It broke me. It was the last straw, the last shitty thing that I could take. And then, everything happened.

I walked up and down Hendon High Street, in and out of each corner shop. Two packs of paracetamol from here, one pack of ibuprofen here. Altogether, I had eighty. Six packets. Sitting in Costa, coffee mixed with salty tears. Minutes turned into hours, hours were seconds. At the time, I remember being scared, but the fear was mingled with a sadness, despair, an exhaustion so huge that fear was not an option. I had written a list of things that needed returning; my library books, a little china bird (one of my prized possessions), borrowed money and who it should go to. No note. It felt too much like a movie cliché. I sent texts instead. Sitting in the Costa toilet, fear, happiness, and liberation ran down my cheeks in rivulets. I was finally going to achieve something so brave. For me, this was the only way in which I could ever be happy – if I was dead, I would no longer be a burden.

My best friend and I had created a pact; if I died, she would die too. We had been there for each other for so many years, what would stop us now? Apparently, me. I sent her a message saying that I would have to break our pact. I kept it short and sweet, just telling her I loved her. I couldn’t be talked out of my decision – if I heard her voice, I would have crumbled. Another text to my sisters, telling them how amazing they are, what good lives they would lead. The silent message; a better life without their crazy older sister who brought so much unwanted drama to their lives. And lastly, to my parents. The wonderful people who had put up with so much over the last year – but no more. Lucky them.

I then received 11 frantic calls from my best friend, begging me to answer. But I knew that if I picked up the phone, my plans would be ruined. Another failure to add to the list. I sent her a message, telling her I couldn’t talk. Eventually, I picked up. I don’t remember much; the whole day was so traumatic that I simply shut my memories off. So I am now relaying her memories. She got my message when she was in class – we were both doing our A – levels at the time – but didn’t see it until twenty minutes later. She tried to call, but the phone rang off. She sent messages, voice notes, but to no avail. I’m not sure what made me reply, but I did. A simple message, saying I couldn’t trust myself to talk. She then called more. Neither of us truly remember what got me to answer the phone, but it must have worked, because I’m here today. She asked me a ton of questions, but when my only response was that it didn’t matter, she became more and more resilient. She told me to meet her at Costa, however, she had to get permission to leave school, running around like a headless chicken to find one of our heads of year. Neither were in school. Shocker. After faking sick, she finally found me, crying alone into my coffee cup, in a total state. We talked for the next four hours, however, I was not in my right mind. I was totally psychotic. I wouldn’t let her touch me. I was drained, but still irrepressible. I wasn’t sad or depressed. I was cold, logical. Nothing had changed, and my life still needed to end. My mum then called – at least 7 times. When I finally answered, I immediately registered the panic in her voice – all she kept saying was ‘get yourself to the hospital’. I wouldn’t allow her to come to Costa, I simply couldn’t face her, face the disappointment. So I went to the hospital, and was saved.

I was ok. I was stopped. But what would have happened if someone would have realised before? If someone would have asked; checked on me? Anyone would have sufficed. I just needed to know someone cared. I needed that physical reassurance, because I had no mental clarity whatsoever. I didn’t get it, because no one knew to give it.

That day, sitting on a hospital chair with my mum crying, my sisters totally unaware of what was happening, was the worst day of my life. It was when I realised how selfish I was. If I had succeeded in killing myself, what would be left? A family who would never be whole? My dog, crying by my bed as she did whenever I left home? And what of me? I would never experience love, never go to uni, never travel, never have a baby, never get wrinkles or grey hair.

I was recently told, by a teacher of all people, that ‘not everyone who commits suicide has a mental issue.’ I was told this in front of the entire class, with total, blatant belief in his views. As someone who has been suicidal, who has nearly acted on those desperate thoughts, who was stopped, thankfully, this truly hit home. The class debate was on the topic of mental health, something which I thought was great. Mental health, suicide, depression and eating disorders are things that should be discussed, however, I believe that as a teacher, one should keep their own beliefs on the matter private. His ‘view’, his rash comments could have broken me. Could have broken anyone. Any person suffering from suicidal thoughts and feelings must have an irrational thought process – because there is no rational situation in which suicide is the answer.

Now, many people may disagree. “What, are you going to go and kill yourself because of something so stupid? Because of a dumb comment? Because of a teacher you didn’t even like?”

Yes.

Once you are in that terrifying, mind-numbing situation, a school of thought and feeling which could last for days, for weeks, then yes. Anything even remotely triggering could set off another set of feelings and thoughts which could turn even the most stable person into someone they barely recognise.

As a society, we need to understand this. The stock mental image that most people have of suicide is a small girl with her knees wrapped up to her chest. It’s a romanticised, commercialised. Just recently, when browsing on a website I found a Halloween costume; a latex ‘razor blade suicide scar’ – two small stickable, red scars – worth £2.95. But suicide is more than just a scar or a memory. Suicide, for many, is a way of life. Even if your dreams of death could never become a reality, one little thing can change that. And many, far too many, succeed.

I have had many people ask me about my thoughts on a programme that has caused uproar; ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’.  Schools have sent emails to parents, warning them of ‘obscene’ images, and the entire PTA are reeling. I, however, see differently. I think that this TV show is great. Talking about subjects that are not usually mentioned; rape, suicide; depression and the effects that words may have on our mental state presents a movement, a fight towards justice for those who suffered and are suffering still. Contrary to belief, it actually de-romanticises suicide. It presents it in a fashion which presents the effects of suicide on a community, on the people who loved the protagonist, and how she was not a ‘hero’; instead, it presents the carnage she created due to her actions, and how so many were affected. It also shows the effects of small actions on mental stability. Granted, the show covers many aspects of issues in a modern teenager’s everyday life. Problems that teachers and parents do not understand, because in ‘their day’,  it was taboo.

There is one message that we, as a society, as a community of young people, and as a global movement can take from the horrific effects of suicide; that it has to be prevented. There is no way that this can go on. This year alone, 6,639 suicides have taken place; so many could have been avoided, if only the correct support was available.

So please, don’t ignore suicide, because if even one person recognises the stages, we can prevent it. Suicide is hard enough for the person experiencing it, so please, don’t make it any worse. Let’s prevent suicide, before it’s too late. Below, my friend and I have devised a list of possible signs that may show that a loved one is suicidal, or contemplating suicide.

 

1) Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless. They may feel totally totally alone. In this situation, make sure that they are in a loving environment, even though they may feel totally helpless, constant reassurance is key. It may feel as if you’re are hitting a brick wall, but I promise, it may change everything for them.

2) Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends (for example, when I made my list of library books to be returned, etc). This sign may be extremely subtle, however, it is a major priority to someone who is suicidal. In this situation, there is little to do but be there for them; they may not appreciate it now, but it makes all the difference.

3) Excessively talking about suicide or death. This may seem harmless, but might lead to an attempt. Watch out for joking about how one might ‘do it’, or referring to possible scenarios.

4) Losing interest in activities they once used to care about. This is a key aspect of both suicide and depression, but keep trying. As a friend or parent, you must not give up. Keep inviting them out, make them feel special. They may lash out, however, remember it is not really them – the depression is simply taking over, changing them, making them into a different person entirely.

These key aspects of suicide may seem petty, and truthfully, there is little that family and friends can do for someone suffering. But, just as small things can trigger suicidal thoughts or attempts, small things can stop them. Just be there for the person struggling: they may not even achnowledge it now, but believe me, it may change everything for them, and then later, for you.

As the great Ellen Degeneres always said, “Be kind to one another”.

 

pain, Recovery

The Unexpected Pain of Anxiety, Anorexia and Bulimia

When in the throes of my eating disorder, I could never have imagined the aftermath; the effects of recovery. As I always say, recovery is hard, but I didn’t think that Bulimia or Anorexia was something that I would have to recover from. I now realise that my naivety has caused me more trouble than I care to think about.

Pain. It’s a funny word. It can connote emotional or physical pain, a distress or suffering. Emotional pain is a part of our everyday life, as is small physical pain. A paper cut, stubbing your toe or standing on a piece of leggo. All of these are essences of pain, however, they disappear. Some pains can plague you for hours, months, years.

When I was first introduced to the idea of bulimia, I had no idea of the pain that would follow. Pain is a difficult thing to describe. When looking at the emotional wreackage, it was a given. If I was doing this to myself, then I would have bad days. I was mentally imbalanced. I knew this. However, what I didn’t anticipate was the physical pain that I would feel.

You may laugh when reading the previous sentence. ‘She didn’t realise that her body would deteriorate? She was starving herself! What did she think would happen?’ Don’t worry. Whatever you may think, I’ve thought it all before. When you’re in that state, that emotional hatred, the irrationally desperate need to reach perfection, you forget about everything else. The emotional and physical repercussions of your choices don’t matter; getting to a size four is the only thing on your mind.

Physical pain manifests itself differently for everyone. Some girls who are recovering from anorexia can experience cramps, while others suffer from acid re-flux. Headaches, nausea, migraines, physical weakness, dizziness, indigestion, heartburn are all a part of the recoveree’s day. And I have to be honest, it sucks. It can make you want to crawl back into the little hole of naivety and never return. In some cases, like mine, the physical pain can be so great that you actually want to end your life to get away from the waves that wrack your entire body.
Some people experience major headaches or nausea independently, and with them I truly sympathise. However, when you know that you are experiencing this pain from your own actions, from your own choices, it can really mess you up.

I think we underestimate the power of pain, especially with people who have made the choice to recover from an eating disorder. Yes, that’s right. Recovery is a choice. When I was first discharged from my clinic, recovery was totally superficial. I posted the obligatory facebook picture, tagged the right people, liked all the comments, had a dinner, cards, smiles all around. The whole shebang. But I have to be honest, I wasn’t ready. Through most of it, my insides were screaming. I had no idea what I was doing. I definitely wasn’t ready to deal with recovery, with the horrific pain and the thoughts that can’t be controlled. I think I was too scared to admit it, especially to my family and friends. They were all so relieved that I was no longer a liability, someone to watch constantly and be wary of. I wasn’t an effort to be around.

Only now, after I had hit rock bottom, could I look at my life and see where I was going. I was honestly on the road to total destruction. The choices I was making, the way in which I was dealing with my pain, both physically and mentally, were all wrong. I was trying to go through the ‘medical’ side of medicine, talking to GP after GP, psychologists, doctors, the lot. And guess what? No-one helped. I was told that I had a ‘Vitamin D deficiency’ along with the rest of the population. Nothing explained what I was feeling. Every test came back clean.

I felt like a liar. I told my mum that I thought I had Munchhausen’s Syndrome. I was so scared that I was crazy, once again. What never occurred to me was that the pressure and strain that I had put on my body had finally made an appearance. When my pain couldn’t be explained, I broke down. I felt like my brain had been put in a blender and that my stomach was being used as a football every minute of every day. After every morsel of food ingested, my stomach and chest would burn so much that I thought someone had poured boiling water all over me. I would have to lie down wherever I was. I once ate an apple on the train. The result was the unberable burn, and when my head swam so much that I couldn’t see, I lay (well, fell) on the cold floor. It was and is the most embarassing moment of all my life. People thought I had fainted, but I had to explain that I had a bad bout of Acid Re-flux. However, these ‘bad bouts’ happened every time that I ate. I was in so much pain, often bedbound for days on end. My neck and back then started to give me pain, spreading to my chest and arms. It felt like I had elephants stomping on my body and monkeys pulling my hair. After feeling this way for about three months, I couldn’t take it. I started to imagine my death, the sweet release, the point where I wouldn’t be in constant pain. When I was hospitalised after I couldn’t control these thoughts, I realised that enough was enough. If I was willing to give up my whole life, everything ahead of me, because of my physical agony, then I couldn’t leave it to the doctors any more. Paracetamol had no effect, and I couldn’t take ibprofen due to my acid re-flux. I had to take matters into my own hands.

Three days later, I was scrolling through my facebook feed when I came across a stupid advert. I usually pass them in a minute, but this one caught my eye. It was a free meditation app called Headspace, targeted against chronic pain and anxiety. I downloaded it with all guns blazing. I already had seven of these stupid meditation apps, and none of them worked. The app showed me 10 days worth of podcasts, for ten minutes each. It didn’t describe it as ‘meditation’ or some weird chinese stuff; it was just a guy named Andy talking down the phone to me. It was like I was having a normal conversation with an old friend, and after relaxing me, he went on to help me release the iron grip on my mind. He explained that physical and mental feelings were like cars on a busy road. I was trying to stop the cars, however, all they were doing was mowing me down, When I stepped off of the road and onto the pavement, I could see that the cars would pass. Yes, it might hurt, but these feelings would pass, revealing the blue sky in front of me. The release of control was the ‘sweet release’ that I had craved. With a lot more pain and hard work, I was able to remove my mind from my body. Now, I know how this sounds, but I promise you, I was just as sceptical as you are. Scepticism is good, but if you really open your mind to a recovery method that can work, a method without medication and empty tests, then it will help masses. I know it has for me. When I am in pain, I close my eyes and remember that it is physical. That I will beat it.

When I look in the mirror, all I see is a whale. It’s hard to remember that it is an illusion, my body and mind playing tricks on me, trying to trip me up in order to send me to the toilet to become skinny again. Recovery is turning my mind against my body; it’s sole aim is to push me back into the exhausting control that I exercised on my mind, body and soul. But I will not let it. I am better than that. I know it’s ‘mia’, my Bulimia, the part of my brain which has brought so much destruction to my life. But I can turn her off. Even if it’s for one minute, ten or twenty. I’m able to turn off the ED dvd that has been playing for so long. And yes, in thirty seconds the thoughts may return. However, there is one main difference; I am now ready to fight back. I can shut mia up. And I know that there will come a day where I can turn her off for good. That day may be in ten years, it may be in a few months. But I know that day will come.

Until then, I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that she doesn’t pull me into the dark depths of bulimia. Not again. I am meditating in order to control the physical effects of my illness. I’m letting go, allowing myself to feel instead of holding a rigid clamp over my life. I’m allowing a higher power to take over, because I’m exhausted of the constant control. It’s hard work, possibly more tiring than when I was controlling my mind, however, I know that it will end. I know that I will be ok, and that I will get through this.

I can do this. If you think you can do it, you can. - John Burroughs

 

Beating ED

Lost girl, Found.

SINCE I was a child, I worried that I would never find myself. I’ve always felt a little lost, like I was simply imitating friends, family, celebrities; but I was failing. I could never looked like they did. Even when I tried so hard that I wound up in hospital, I could never measure up. ‘Peter Pan’ was my favourite book – I was part of the Lost Boys, and later, part of the eating disorder community. I fed off it, lived for the pity. Some people say that the denial stage is the hardest part of an eating disorder, however, I was different. I was so desperate for attention, for anyone to validate my body, my hard work, that at one point I actually wanted the disorder. It made me feel like a part of something, somewhere I wasn’t judged. After this period, guilt totally overtook me. I was so ashamed of myself. I just couldn’t get it right.

I have befriended a lot of toxic people over the years. Don’t misunderstand; I don’t blame any of them. It definitely wasn’t easy to be friends with me, and this post is not a slam at anyone, however, I feel it is important to talk about just how important friendships are when going through a tough time, and the correct ways to be there for someone with an eating disorder. From a very young age I had issues with my body, and I would have friends who embodied what I believed was the ‘perfect body’. After this point, I then befriended some who were so unbelievably self-involved that it took away from my own issues. I could sit for most of the day, listening to them chatter away about the most trivial subjects, trying to ignore the demons that raged inside me. My plan worked for a few years, and I was content with my supporting roles in my friendships.

MY life began to crumble before my very eyes. I started going to parties, boys were interested in me, I was hot. I was wanted. However, some preyed on my acute vulnerability. And those ‘some’ ruined a part of my life that I will never get back. I don’t think any of them really understand the effect that their words, their actions had on me. So I will explain in order to stimulate their feeble minds. And if they are too weak to read this, to weak to truly understand the carnage they caused, then they are more cowardly than I initially believed. This is not a ’13 Reasons Why’ complex. This not a book, not a fiction. I was strong enough to overcome it. Almost strong enough.

SOME of this group may believe that they are exempt, because they ‘stood up for me’. This is most definitely not the case. It mostly started with a whisper. My friend, a friend who I now know I should never have trusted, had told most of the group, and more, that I had an eating disorder, just a few short days after my diagnosis. I was totally broken, and had panic attack after panic attack. I thought that what felt like the world would know. Yet, it was my world. Due to her thoughtless actions, her desperate craving for attention, her need to claw her way into the spotlight, she caused my world to implode. This is step number 1 of friendship – you keep eachothers secrets until the last.  However, the true carnage started after I left the group.  I was sick of them, the way that they judged others, constantly bitched about people they thought were lesser than them. However, prior to leaving this group, they proceeded to bitch about me. For anyone who has experienced an eating disorder, you will understand that this the worst thing that could happen. I was desperate to be loved, to be viewed as beautiful. To them, I was nothing. Some preyed on my fragile state. They spoke words that were diabolical, next to the talk of animals. Truly, they behaved like animals. They asked if I smelt of sick when I was kissed, and said that I was too fat to be anorexic. More disgusting comments followed. The rest of the group sat and watched. This was not a joke, not a funny roast. This was the destruction of my little confidence, leaving me to sift through the ashes of my obliterated self-worth, only to find nothing. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ How wrong this is. In our day and age, cruelty does not end at school. We come home to social media; to whatsapp, facebook. We can constantly see what others are doing. You can never escape the words that others pin on you. Everything is out in the open. Even now, friends can make you feel shitty. We are made to feel that ‘feelings’ should be thought, not felt. Being left out still brings back the hurt I felt at one of the worst points in my life, and not being believed is still a hard emotion to deal with.

HOWEVER, I have made the best friendships of my life. Thanks to these people, I understand what a good friend really is. My true friends have always been there for me, never made me scared of my feelings. They always check on me when I’m not in school, or if I haven’t answered a message. Still now, I have friends who only message me if they want something, or if they feel bad, because I’m ‘the eating disorder girl’. These friends are not true. Yes, they are nice, or they believe they are, but their total selfishness, their happiness with their own lives can blind them from the truth – that they are hurting others with their actions. However, the people who have always been there without a second thought for themselves, who came to the hospital to see me even though they had bad experiences there, who could tell when I was upset instead of telling me of the plans I had missed. Who would cancel their stupid plans just to see me for ten minutes when I had no energy to even move from my bed. These are the true friends.

IT is sometimes hard to see these friends in your life. I have had trouble with it, however, I can now see that true, real friendships are so important; to your health, emotionally and physically, and especially to your recovery. Recovery is not easy. Your body has been put through agony, starvation and exploitation. I have ruined my digestive system, and my immune system is ridiculously low. I have so much bloat that I look three months pregnant. Recovering from an eating disorder means training your body to eat again. It’s like running a marathon after not walking for a year. Your body has been put through hell and back again, but YOU WILL RECOVER. With true friends around you, friends who really care about you rather than your party status, who can handle the real you, these are the friends that you need. You need friends who can occasionally put you first, because the next year will most definitely not be easy for you. Friends who understand this will be your rocks; I know that I’m so grateful for my true ones.

I will lay out a few ground rules for friends and family who are dealing with an eating disorder/depression, as I know it’s not easy for you either, but if you’re willing to try, to wholly be there for your friend, you will make a massive difference to their recovery.

  1. Never comment on weight. Weight is an extremely fragile subject, as bloating will be constant (there is a post on bloating and how to deal with it here: #BeatTheBloat). When they bring up weight, dieting or simply ‘feeling fat’, don’t fuel the fire. Simply remind them that they are doing well in their recovery, and that you’re there for them.
  2. People in recovery may have issues with their health, specifically regarding the way that they retain and digest food. It is truly exhausting; my acid reflux caused my chest and stomach to burn after every piece of food ingested, and I have constant headaches due to the water retained by my body. Don’t leave them out of plans. They may feel exhausted or uncomfortable, especially if it is a situation where they have to eat. I urge you, be patient. Let them know you are there for them; visit them when they are in bed, even if it’s for ten minutes. Offer to take some food off their plates when out. Encourage them to try.
  3. Little milestones are important to recovery. Even if these seem tiny; they ate a cube of cheese, or ate in-front of certain people, it is imperative to their journey. Praise them, for if they are telling you, it must be important to them. Tell them how proud you are.
  4. Try to notice them. I know this sounds funny, for of course you notice them; they are your friend! What I mean is notice them when they’re upset or low. It will not be easy for them, and there are times when they will feel totally demoralised. Just a small text letting them know that you are there is truly enough. They might not answer, but they will know and appreciate it.
  5. Physical touch is important. Sometimes, words can only penetrate a darkness skin deep, when it goes on for miles. Touch can bring someone out of this. Just a hug, a squeeze on the shoulder can let them know that you’re there when they emerge from their dark cloud.

IF you feel you cannot be there for them, please, tell them. They won’t mind, but don’t pretend to be there if you can’t. They will understand.

TO those still in recovery; we can do this. Reach out to your friends, and shed your old skin, along with the fake friends that you surrounded yourself with simply for flattery. Show your true friends that you care, and that you appreciate them. They’ll know. Don’t become the lost being you once were, because if you haven’t already, you will find yourself. You will recover, and this will end.

Allow yourself to be happy; you deserve it.

You have fight left in you, all you have to do is find it. 

 

Uncategorized

#BeatTheBloat

Today was not different to any other. I logged into my Instagram account and started to flick through the drunken pictures, photos of food and celebrity ads. I won’t lie – I am a sucker for those things. The gummies that make your hair stronger? Fantastic! New clothes line? Get twenty percent off! I love being able to look at what people are doing; I think it’s a great thing, if you like having your entire life exposed to everyone. Anyhow, I came across an ad that made my stomach churn.

Celebrities post adverts for different a range products, and a few of them make me really uncomfortable. Now, there’s no harm in being healthy; by all means, post videos of you in the gym, or eating a nice hearty salad. That being said, some of these celebrities are obsessed. We are looking at wafer thin girls sporting skimpy bras and tight leggings on a daily basis, and we are therefore believing that this is normal! Girls, I can assure you – this is not normal. Spending four hours at the gym is not normal, and having to count every calorie is not normal.

The posts that really get to me are the posts about ‘flat tummy teas’, or detox teas. Celebrities post that they need to ‘beat the bloat’, because they may have eaten a little excess that weekend, or had one too many pina coladas. They pose in a sports bra and leggings, their flat tummies taught and smooth, and smile. No damage caused.
What they don’t know is that I am suffering from bloat. Not because I had an extra serving of my sunday roast, or felt that my jeans were a little bit tight. I’m talking three months pregnant bloat. This bloat is from my eating disorder.

One of my biggest fears during the weight restoration process was that I would wake up and be massive; that I would balloon out of control. My worst nightmare came true as my body started to recover. At first I thought I was crazy, and that my eating disorder thoughts had somehow come back. However, after some of my high-waisted jeans wouldn’t fit over my bloated stomach, I started to research. I realised that when you have an eating disorder, your body has been in a state of starvation, and has been feeding off of it’s own muscles and organs; your body is literally deteriorating to keep you alive. This is why girls can die from an eating disorder; because your heart is a muscle too, and it shuts down. 1 in 10 people die from eating disorders. It’s nothing to joke about.

Since I had been keeping my body in a period of starvation, it was holding on to any nutrients that it could to stay alive. As an act of self-preservation, my body was insulating my vital organs, meaning that my weight was being stored around my midsection. In order to ‘beat the bloat’, you have to carry on eating.

This is a struggle for a lot of girls in recovery; it tests you to your limit, and ensures that you are both mentally and physically strong before your body fills out. I am still in the bloating stage. I am embarrassed to wear half of my clothes. I know it will end, and I am persevering.

However, when I see celebrities ‘beating the bloat’, it maddens me. They are using products, mostly laxative based, in order to make their tummies that much flatter. The insensitivity is worse than the product itself!

I urge you to be sensitive to girls who are going through this. Don’t walk on eggshells, but don’t be brash. Think about what you say before you say it. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m that much more vulnerable with my body shape at the moment, but behind the bloat, I know that I’m still beautiful.

We cannot change the insensitive way in which these celebs think, but we can change the way in which we think, and how we deal with the recovery of eating disorders.

Fight back; together, our strength will light up the darkness that can come with any hardship. Look to G-d, for He will protect and guide you, look to your friends, family, loved ones; they will be your rocks in your life. I am thankful to each and every true friend of mine who stood by me in my darkness, and who have seen me to the light.

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