My Anorexia Recovery Update

The ups and downs of anorexia recovery

The ups
Eating public is highly uncomfortable, I don’t like doing it. But it was time for my snack. I reminded myself that if anyone notices they just see a person eating. For many people this is so normal they wouldn’t even notice. If they had noticed they wouldn’t see an anorexic eating, they would just see a guy eating. Do I identify myself too much as an anorexic, rather than a person with a mental illness? The seagull was the only one who noticed.

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Two hours later and I’m now in a cafe and am about to have two chicken salad sandwiches. My meal plan for today is two ciabattas with jam, but I can’t get that in a cafe. I took advice from somebody who is further along in their recovery than I am. As chicken is on my plan (day 5) then I can have the chicken, I’m used to it, and it means that I’m not introducing a new food unplanned. New foods are tricky and are best eaten at home. It feels like everyone is staring at me.

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The downs
I purged on Wednesday. It’s irrelevant how I purged, but I did. That’s a relapse. It left me feeling distant from the people who love me and my support network. Purging brought up feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness. I felt useless and had thoughts of not attending my self-help group. Addictive behaviour makes my world smaller, and hand on heart ūüíď, I deserve better.

The love
Despite fearing rejection I got honest. I told people that I have built trust with, my long-term friends, and I also shared about it in a self help group that I attend. I was treated with love, gentleness, kindness and understanding. People called me after the meeting and helped me to explore why I did it.

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The why
I have so many thoughts about food, about bingeing, about starving myself. Its obsessive, it dirsturbs me. I hate those thoughts. The way that I purged isnt important. It takes those crazy food thoughts away from me and brings some relief. But it also puts me at risk in so many ways. My paranoia and anxiety increase.

The solution
Shopping is a trigger for me. I need to stop walking around shops just to be around food. I need to either shop online or just shop at the co-op. I know where everything is in the co-op so I can go in with a list and shop quickly. As shopping is a trigger I could message a friend before hand so that I can remain accountable, and to have someone else that cares about me aware of my discomfort.

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I¬†also need to be patient, loving, kind and gentle with myself. Recovery is a process – it’s not an instant fix. Some days I will struggle, and some times my thinking will drive me mad. I’m going to have to learn to sit in discomfort. Many of my peers in the self help group have been recovered for years. I can’t force myself to be at their stage. I need to give myself permission to be where I am, and to keep moving forward. Hope will help me with this. Knowing that others have been through this and come out of the otherwise is inspiring.
Richard, I love you. Richard, eating is the loving thing to do. You’re so worth it.

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The last half of the sandwich was so hard to eat. It looks to much for me. But my therapist, nutritionist says this is the right amount for now.

UK Based Eating Disorder Charities

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men and Boys Get Eating And Exercise Disorders Scotland

International Eating Disorder Charities

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

Peer Support groups

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous

Smart Recovery

Over-Eaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

Two vlogersI have found useful who are in recovery or recovered

Megsy recovery

Tabitha Farrar

The End Of The Pagan/Celtic Year – My Review Of The Past 12 Months And Goals For The Year Ahead

When I’m in tune spiritually at the end of the pagan year, I like to reflect upon the past year and say thanks for it. I also consider the year ahead.

The start of the new year as winter sets in makes sense. Traditionally winter would be the end of the life cycle for many people. Even now winter is a time of increased death rates for the elderly and vulnerable. The new year was a spiritual occasion in which prayers would be asked for protection over the winter months. It was also believed that the half way points of the spring and autumn (equinox), was when the barrier between the physical world and the underworld was at its weakest. A time when spirits could cross over and would take the weakest. During the middle ages and up to the Victorian era, communities would gather, light bonfires, celebrate and also cross dress . Men would dress as women and vice versa, in order to confuse the spirits and thereby preserve their life for the year ahead.

Today i took the opportunity for prayer and reflection whist I was walking between Redcar and Maske¬†By The Sea. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I have some wonderful friends, who have been part of my life for many years, I am developing deeper friendships with my peers, and I’m also developing friendships and a supportive community on WordPress.

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I got accepted into university – I’m glad I deferred it because I would have been to Ill¬†to attend anyway. My tutor has given me some ideas which organisations that I can approach¬†with a view to an exhibition of my photographic body of work about eating disorders. She values the personal integrity of my photography, and this was also stated in my interview with the University for the Creative Arts. I’m beginning to get a feel for the kind of photography that I want to make, the photography for relaxation and fun – and events. I really enjoyed the narrative of A Hermits Journey (here). Technically I’m improving as well, especially in Photoshop, although I do need to stop and consider which is the easiest approach to bring the quality that I desire. I need to read more books on photography as well. When reviewing the work of other photographers, finding a balance between books and internet resources is critical.

I’m¬† also enjoying the creativity of mixed media art, and I’m loving being part of the OCA collaboration group. I don’t make photographs for that. I’m using it as an opportunity to explore written and spoken word.

One of the highlights of my year was the photomontage I created using street art (here). It was wonderful to gain consent to use music by DJ’s from Mars. Approaching established artists with a view to making use of their work is new to me, and feels like a huge leap forward.oznor

It’s also a pleasure to witness the development and progress of my peers. We all have different skills, preferences and unique styles of the photography and it’s been a privilege to view. I’ve been able to try techniques that I wouldn’t have considered if I hadn’t seen their work. We all comment upon each others work, and this has been a vital part of my progression. I still find it hard to critique the work of my peers, although it is getting easier.

One particular photo produced by @andykabi on Instagram – touched that place of shame, persecution, unworthiness and vulnerability within me. It’s the most I’ve been affected by a photograph. Andy was kind enough to send me a signed copy. I get it back from the picture framers tomorrow.

As for my¬†WordPress buddies, I’m touched by your honesty, integrity and support. You are so compassionate and have so much wisdom, which you share on your blogs and in comments.

Cork and london have presented me with opportunities to explore the unfamiliar. I love London, my holiday and time there were incredible. Sadly, I became very ill and had to return home. However, I’m trying to arrange a home-swap¬†so that I can live in London. One of my main motivators is to become involved in a dynamic, vibrant and creative community. I was fortunate enough to meet two of my OCA friends whilst in London, but was too I’ll to meet two others as planned.

Now is the time to move, and to build a face to face community. Am I ready to start meeting up with people? Yes I am. It will be beneficial in so many ways, and one of those is in relation to my mental health.

Anorexia has taken it’s toll on my body and mind. The possibility of dying from anorexia was never going to be a motivating factor to change. However, my illness affected my photography and that was enough for me to seek and utilise supoort so that I can recover. Photography is saving my life for the second time. My passion for photography is intense. The more I make photos, watch the photography of others, and study photography – the more I fall in love with it. The more I have to give and the more I have to receive. Now that I’m in early recovery from anorexia and eating regularly, my ability to go back out with my camera has returned. The process of forming and developing creative ideas is such and pleasure, to be coming up with new idead again is wonderful. This is enough motivator for me to eat and continue with my recovery.

Occasionally I write photo essays, which have all been published in The Sociological Mail.¬†Shaneka¬†kindly publishes my writing, and I’d like to produce more articles over the next 12 months. Shaneka is always on the lookout for contributors, and I believe that she would appreciate the services of someone who can help with site maintenance and communicating with the feature writers.

My hopes and goals for the year ahead are :-

  • Move to London, Guildford or Farnham
  • Complete Foundations in Photography
  • Start a degree in photography with either the OCA or UCA
  • Exhibit my eating disorders body of work
  • Stay in recovery from anorexia
  • Develop the friendships I have
  • Develop new face to face friendships
  • Explore mixed media art
  • Assisted/guided photography/portraits for those who want to add photos in with their writing
  • Get involved with creatives in London
  • Travel to India
  • Write 7 photo essays
  • Write more poetry
  • Deepen my spirituality
  • Come to trust that the universe wants what’s best for me
  • Take a street photography workshop
  • Meet up with fellow students
  • Attend OCATV
  • Find some good birdwatching spots and go birdwatching monthly.
  • Find a photographer to get to know.
  • Eat no more and no less than what’s on my plan
  • Meditate every day
  • Attend yoga classes
  • Finish my model
  • Create a folder for competition stand photos
  • Read part of a photography book each morning

1,500 Reasons To Be Grateful

Today the 1,500th person followed my blog. I’m feeling very grateful. I’m aware that people follow me for different reasons. I hope that I continue to create posts that you enjoy it relate to, as well as my studies.

I’ve also made some friends by following you and engaging with you via your posts. It’s wonderful to have friends from around the world.

I welcome any ideas that you may have so that I can create meaningful dialogue.

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I thank you all and I’m feeling very grateful.

I’ve Just Restored Some Deleted Posts – Feeling Vulnerable About My Eating Disorder

This week has been obe in which I have felt vulnerable in relation to my eating disorder, and because of this I deleted many of my personal posts which appeared in my creative writing page. The page has become more of a journal, and I felt exposed by having the posts public. So I deleted them.

Having just restored them I am hoping that WordPress hasn’t posted them to the feeder as if they were new. I don’t want to bore you all with things that you have already read. I will find out shortly.

I am feeling very grateful today. I have been out with my camera, and it is so nice to be out and about with it again. Photography is such an important part of my life, and one of my main motivators for change. To be able to slowly walk around and see through the eye of a lens has been joyous, and it brings me much needed hope.

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Early Recovery Exhaustion – Following Your Blogs

Feeling exhausted is not something that I expected and it’s a big surprise to me. Perhaps this is because my body is beginning to heal.

The routine of the meal plan has become more comfortable, although I do forget sometimes. I’ve remembered eventually, so it just means I run late. Im used to only eating once per day, so I’m not surprised that I occasionally forget.

The 3 meals and three snacks are mostly what I’m used to eating, but I am managing to introduce some new foods. Interestingly, I’m aware that I need and want to eat more food. My food intake has increased significantly but it isn’t enough to sustain me. I have no idea how to do this in a manner that I can cope without triggering my anorexic response. My therapist and I can discuss this and make adjustments when we next talk. It’s a more complicated process than just eating more. Be told by well-wishers really doesn’t help. Despite their genuine and sincere hope for my wellbeing it makes things harder for me.

My energy levels are very low and I’ve had no motivation to do anything productive. I’ve spent my time with my headphones on, listening to music full blast, and doing some intensely detailed pixel editing in photoshop. It has achieved anything photographically, but it’s stopped me from thinking those negative anorexic thoughts that don’t want me to recover.

My energy has been so low that it’s beit’s been too much effort to read your blog posts. You have become an important community for me, I love being in touch and sharing our lives and I look forward to being able to catch up when I am able.

I wish you all peace, love and joy. See you soon.

 

Change And Growth – Grateful For The Generosity And Love Which Means That I Now Have Professional Support

This week I felt so frustrated with not finding a dietician who could work with me over Skype at a price that I could afford. I didn’t quite give up though. I had the inspiration to contact Lynn Crilly. I discovered her on Twitter two or three years back, and followed her posts. Lynn, set up an organisation called Hope With Eating Disorders, which is now called Hope With Mental Health. As well as being a counsellor working with people with eating disorders, she has a daughter who is now in recovery/recovered (they have different meanings, and individuals use their preferred term in a positivistic way). When I was admitted into an¬†inpatient unit for the treatment of anorexia two years ago Lynn sent me a copy of Hope With Eating Disorders. I¬† was stunned by her kindness, especially because we had only exchanged a couple of messages on Twitter. Hope With Eating Disorders is a book which Lynn wrote for families who have a loved one suffering from an eating disorder. The book is an honest, but deeply loving account of her family’s experience of¬†living with a child who is really sick with anorexia. It discusses the¬† difficulties, tension and struggles which the family lived through, as well as her daughters progress as she gradually began¬†to change, get well and recover.

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I felt overwhelmed with gratitude because somebody whom I barely knew had been kind enough to send me a book which they had written. But what really touched my soul was the love which is apparent in Lynn’s style of writing.

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So I emailed Lynn this week and explained my situation. She called me back and said that she had spoken with a few people that she knows from other organisations, and gave me a couple of numbers that I could try. The first one I called is willing to work me, so I now have professional support. She also put me onto her Hope With Mental Health YouTube channel. Her family are the vloggers, and the love that shines through was beautiful to see.

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Yesterday whilst walking into town, I was crying with gratitude. I felt in awe at the love and kindness which I have received from Lynn, and witnessed within her family.

I am aware that I am growing and changing with regards to my anorexia and all of the behaviours associated with it.

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Today is the sixth day that I have followed the style of meal plan which the eating disorders unit followed when I was there two years ago. Ok the three meals and snacks are just eating more of the same things I have eaten for months. But my calories are far higher, and although I have a rough idea of what they are I am no longer counting them. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, I have introduced two new foods, porridge and jacket potato with tuna-mayo. I’ve got rid of the food I had hoarded, and my kitchen is now one which is condusive with developing a healthy relationship with food.

Reaching out to members of the 12 step recovery group hasn’t been easy. But I have called two or three of them, and a couple of us speech message each other on WhatsApp. I really value the meetings, the identification with other anorexics and bulimics means that I no longer feel shameful about, or alone with my eating disorder

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I have hope that I can recover, but I also remain aware that I’ve had hope before. I’ve made progress for a while and then fell back into anorexia. I am trying to focus upon today, this day is all that I have, and today I am ok.

The photos of my plants are included because they are growing with me. I especially like the apple and melon which I planted as seeds.

The following two links are for Lynn’s website and the Hope With Mental Health YouTube channel.

Lynn Crilly

Hope With Mental Health YouTube channel

If you think or know that you have an eating disorder and you are not  receiving help or support, please be aware that help is available and recovery is possible. Please speak to your doctor or talk to a trusted friend. There are also eating disorders charities around the world which provide help, guidance and information.

UK Based Eating Disorder Charities

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men and Boys Get Eating And Exercise Disorders Scotland

International Eating Disorder Charities

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

Peer Support groups

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous

Smart Recovery

Over-Eaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

Making My Kitchen More Condusive To Having A Healthy Relationship With Food

As well as getting rid of the foods I had hoarded, I have been cleaning my kitchen. On Tuesday I cleaned my cooker.

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Then yesterday I cleared out and cleaned the fridge and freezer. I hadn’t done so for over a year.

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Today I have cleared and cleaned the surfaces, draws and all crockery and utensils. Everything now has a place.

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Tomorrow I will be cleaning the floor and hoovering the rest of the house. Despite living in it, I cannot believe what a shit tip I had left the kitchen in.

I have a very poor relationship with food, and I know that in order to recover my eating will change over the next few months. That’s going to be a whole lot easier to reinforce if my kitchen promotes a positive attitude towards food. I’m also going to wash my cup and plates up each time that I use them.

Do You Know Of, Or Are You An Eating Disorders Dietician? – First Day Of Recovery From My Eating Disorder

Firstly, I am looking for an eating disorders dietician who is willing to work over Skype. I had a look on google for dietitians in the UK and they were well beyond what I can afford. I have a contact page, so please feel free to contact me if you are in a position to help or point me in the right direction.

Secondly, today has been a big day for me. As far as I am concerned it is the first day of my recovery from Anorexia. Today I have sorted through and got rid of the food that I had hoarded from October last year til April this year.

It’s common for people to obsess about food when they have been lacking the food that they need to survive, and this is a common experience for people with Anorexia Nervosa. Hoarding food that isn’t going to be eaten is also a common experience.

I knew that I needed to get rid of it, and I also knew that it was hidden all over the house But it has shocked me just how much there was. I will be donating it to a local food-bank, and I have also taken some to one of my neighbours.

I had such a strong emotional attachment to my hoard. Before I have let friends visit or stay over, I have made it clear that the house is full of food and they are not to touch it. One friend has been encouraging me to get rid of it for ages, but I haven’t been able too, the thought of doing so has been terrifying.

Today there were some foods that I really didn’t want to let go of. I had to go through the pile that I was going to keep repeatedly so that I let go of foods that I didn’t need. There are a few things that I will genuinely use as snacks, so I have kept them, but it took a long time to get rid of the stuff that would never be a genuine snack. Some of the things that I was trying to justify keeping, but there is no such thing as half recovery, they had to go.

I have made videos as I have gone along, its part of the record of my journey, my illness and, fingers crossed, my recovery. I have received so much support from my peers, who have become my friends, and also from many fellow bloggers. I thank you all deeply. The turning points have been the sudden decline in my health whilst on holiday in London, and a kind friend pointing me towards a twelve step fellowship which is specifically for people with anorexia and bulimia. There are also a couple of vlogs that I have been pointed too by people who are in recovery or recovered from anorexia. I will add links to them below the video.

I am so grateful for all of your support, and today, I am grateful for my willingness, courage and strength. I am so proud of myself that I bought myself a bunch of flowers. I honour my willingness, courage and strength.

I have also stuck to my meal plan for the past two days. Cant believe it. Its so good to have done that. But the food that I eat is not nutritious, but I am stuck with the fear of trying other foods, which is why I need a  dietician that specialises in eating disorders. I know how to eat healthy, but its needing someone to guide me through the fear and to take control of my eating plan.

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Here are the links.

Megsy recovery

Tabitha Farrar

UK Based Eating Disorder Charities

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men and Boys Get Eating And Exercise Disorders Scotland

International Eating Disorder Charities

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

Peer Support groups

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous

Smart Recovery

Over-Eaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

 

 

Need To Write – Feeling Vulnerable – Change

I feel an urgent need to write. It’s a bit of a weird thing have a compulsion to write, but it’s better than s compulsion to starve or binge. Although I’ll keep it short or it will just be an aimless ramble.

Letting go of the controlling anorexic behaviour, working with my team, accepting I’m sick, and actually wanting to recover – it’s a big internal shift for me. It’s left me feeling quite vulnerable and unsettled. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really positive and I have genuine hope. But I feel vulnerable.

I was with a friend and was due to be away for a few more days, but I had to come back to my safe space. I needed the routine and familiarity and my own routine. It wasn’t easy to say to my friend, but a strong and positive thing to know what I need and to be able to do.

I even dusted this morning.

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All is ok with the plan, I’ve stuck to it so far, and I’m not obsessing about food, starving or binging, which is nice. I’m actually looking forward to getting my calories up to a normal and healthy level. It will be a gradual process, but with larger increases than before.

Fragments

I’m still keeping up with photography and coursework, although I’ve needed to back off a little. I’ve just developed a series of photos for coursework, and I’m just considering how to blend them into the montage as required.

Wishing you a fab weekend.

Fragments

Fragments

My Eating Disorder Today – New Plan/Old Plan

My physical health, emotions and eating have been chaotic since my health deteriorated in London. I had to return home early from London, my health got worse and had a couple of days where I couldn’t walk, binged for 8 days and ended up in A and E because of concerns about re-feeding syndrome, and then three days of not eating.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

I’ve reached out to a peer support eating disorder recovery group, and logged in online every day. Seeing people who are in recovery has given me so much hope. Change is very scary but hope and goals help.

Goals

  • Stay out of hospital
  • Keep enjoying photography
  • Complete my studies
  • Travel to India next April

These are all very important to me, and if I don’t change then none of them will be achievable, so these remain my focus.

When I was in an inpatient eating disorders unit a couple of years ago they had a meal plan of three meals a day and three snacks a day. It worked for me while I was in there, and for a few months afterwards.

My psychiatrist and I have decided it’s time to put this in place again now. It maintains blood sugar, because I know what I’m eating and when it makes it easier to avoid either binging or restricting. Binging is really common when food is increased after long periods of restricting. The brain sends out all kinds of chemicals to try to restore¬†nutrition, so knowing where the next meal is coming from helps psychologically to avoid binging.

We’ve also increased my calories by 25%. It’s scary, a big leap, but I’m still way under what I need to maintain weight or build nutrition. If I want to stay out of hospital then I need this increase, and the next, and the next.

This is all so easy to say, and so scary put into practice. Today I’m going to follow the plan. I don’t know if I will tomorrow or the next day, because all any of us can live in is today. If I succeed today, then I have a better chance tomorrow.

I have developed some close and supportive friendship with my fellow OCA students, and other WordPress bloggers. I really appreciate your kindness and support. Thankyou.

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