My Anorexia Recovery And Self Care

My recovery has developed very quickly since August. Initially I was on a weight gain regime, then onto maintenance, and now I’m learning some flexibility.

My nutritionist agreed that I could try a new food this week. We didn’t specify what that should be, but that I could choose it on the day.

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Yesterday I ate at East Street in Rathborne Place, just off of Oxford Street in London. East Street has a menu of many Asian foods. I chose a hot and spicy Thai chicken dish with Jasmine rice. Now that’s the kind of food I want to eat more off. It was delicious. The service was quick, friendly and accommodating (I changed tables because I felt a draft where I initially sat), the food was tasty, and the restaurant was stylish.

I needed some new clothes, and purchased a fab pink jumper and matching pink shirt, pink really suits me, but my real self-care was buying a bath bomb and soap from Lush.

fznor

This was a reward for me having the courage to follow my heart and move to London. The photo of the bath bomb isn’t good, but the bath was. I smell like a fizzy lemon. Truly lush.

It was cold and wet in London yesterday. Not my favourite conditions to be outside in, but there’s always a photographic opportunity if we seek it out.

ozedf

 

The Pain Of Making Self Portraits

Firstly – I know have a working title for my assignment… “The Emotional States Of Anorexia”. The emotions that I’m photographing all relate to different emotions that I have experienced that relate to my anorexia.

Defiance (fuck you! I won’t eat and you can’t make me)

Pride (Yes – another target weight hit)

Rage (I fucking hate my self)

Joy (I can wear those new skinny jeans now I’ve hit that weight)

Fear (I’m so fucking scared of eating, l will have to kill myself if I do)

Grief (I hurt so much I can’t cope anymore)

Now I know that you know that I hate my photo being taken. I hate seeing photos of myself. It’s taken me sometime to build up the willingness to photograph myself. Tomorrow and Thursday I have the pain of seeing my face when I develop them. Fuck sake. Why am I doing this. I could have used someone else as the model.

Thing is I can’t. I know that these emotions are extreme and trying to work with a model and talking them into these states is gonna be challenging and time-consuming. I know these emotions and the thoughts that go with them. They’ve been a second skin that I’ve lived in. Consequently it’s taken me an hour to make these photos.

I’ve not liked doing it at all, but, I’ve got the photos that I need. I’ve captured the emotions. Am I putting them up on here? Not bloody likely. Once I’ve embroidered over them then I will publish them, but they, of themselves, are not the final piece of work. They are just part of a still life audio, visual installation that will be juxtaposed with the Laura Letinsky photography.

If I put my displeasure about the photos of myself to the side, I feel excited. This is coming together. My creative vision is clear, I can see the outcome.

Will I exhibit the six pieces I am creating? Damn right if I can get the right curator and the right space. It’s weird how I can feel so confident of that when I can’t stand seeing my photo. Perhaps it’s because my portrait is just a part of a larger piece of work, that my face will be sewn over? Perhaps it’s just a dichotomy of the human experience.

Anorexia And Moving Towards Intuitive Eating

If you have an eating disorder, the chances are that you’ve shut out your body’s desires for so long that you don’t know how to recognise cues for hunger or fullness.

I am having to practice mindfulness whilst I eat to try to relearn awareness of these cues. There is improvement, and I now sometimes feel hungry or full.

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My nutritionist is helping me with this process, and I know have a new goal. I still have a meal plan, but rather than having a set menu of meals and snacks every day of the week, I can now choose what I want from that plan at each meal.

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My fridge freezer and cupboards are now full, it feels so grown up. Some days it’s easy for me to choose, and at others I can only stick with what I would have previously had for that meal, on that day. Progress not perfection.

Chicken with walnuts, fried with peppers and soy sauce is still one of my favourites.

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I’m pleased with the progress I’m making

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

Crystalising Ideas For Assignment Five

  • Installation
  • Photo of my face, over-sewn to represent emotional/mental states of anorexia
  • Positioned 90 degrees to photo from Laura Letinsky
  • Stitch on Laura Letinsky’s photos to pick out detail
  • 1 inch in front of Letinsky’s photo will be plain card of same size
  • Cut out shapes so aspects of Lentinsky’s work can be revealed and others remain hidden
  • Revealed areas will be related to food or eating
  • An object from Lentinsky’s art will be placed between the two photos i.e. Cup, plate, squashed water melon
  • Long stitches to go from my face over to the revealed areas in Letinsky’s photo (in the style of Kate Aston (review to be written up shortly). This will further emphasise emotional state.
  • Sound recording which emulates specific thought patter relating to each of my mental/emotional states
  • There will be six states represented so I will use six self portraits and six of Laura Lentinsky’s.

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Anorexia Recovery – Christmas – New Foods – What Is Hunger

Right now I’m very pleased with the progress that I’m making. Food is certainly something that I’m enjoying. The obsessive thoughts that I had around food have decreased considerably, but they are certainly intense when my emotions are strong.

The most difficult time over the Christmas period was when shopping the day after I arrived in Cork. I had a shopping list for breakfasts, lunch and snacks, but I found being in a new shop, in a new town and being around so much food was challenging.

hdrplProfiterole, cheesecake and Ben and Jerry.

I heavily over-ate one night whilst I was in Cork, and I had a couple of nights where I had a few chocolates. So what! It’s no big deal, and I didn’t go into guilt and shame.

I had several foods I hadn’t eaten for a long time, which included Chinese and Asian street food, ham, tomato and salad sandwiches, a full English and Christmas Dinner.

IMG_20181223_222144.jpgSingapore special chow mein.

I cooked Christmas Dinner. I love cooking and I was very satisfied with my cooking. Roast lamb, roast beef, sprouts cooked with bacon and pear, honey glazed parsnips, glazed buttered carrots, fluffy roast potatoes and breaded mushroom for starter. I’m very impressed with the progress that I am making.

IMG_20181225_152729.jpgI cooked this Christmas Roast. 

It also feels like my weight has stabilised. I don’t weigh myself, but I don’t think I’m putting on anymore either – which is a relief.

I’m going on holiday to India next year, so I need to be flexible with my eating, and I want to learn to eat according to hunger and fullness. I experience hunger so infrequently. I didn’t feel it at all when I wasn’t eating, so anytime when I feel slightly hungry or slightly full is a time of excitement for me. I’m focusing intently on my stomach and tummy before, during and after eating. I’ve now had two very subtle feelings of fullness. I can’t believe how excited I feel at feeling hungry or full. Life is bizarre.

IMG_20181223_180751.jpgI can’t believe how wonderful a ham sandwich tastes.

Things are going well. I still get some intense thoughts about eating or restricting, and shopping disturbed me so much that it triggered my neuro-muscular condition, but overall my recovery is going well.

Review – Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky (1962)

  • Still life
  • Staged photography
  • Controlled accidents
  • Food
  • Destructive nature of human behaviour
  • Domestic life
  • Food as feminine – social construct of domesticity
  • Pastels
  • Lighting – bright, natural
  • Space
  • Broad White backgrounds
  • Half eaten foods, non desirous {unlike traditional still life of food)
  • “half eaten apples, dirty dishes, and scattered cake crumbs are a common motif in her work” (Amy Lin (2016))
  • “I realized that still lifes were a vehicle to explore the tension between the small and minute and larger social structures.” (Sholis, B (2013)
  • Uses other photographs, including her own, highlighting consumption of photography and relates this to consumption and homogenization
  • “Using images already in the world, including my own earlier works, is akin to using objects in the world. It’s all raw material ripe for the picking, so to speak. Alongside its ability to provoke sensations, photography has a way of homogenizing experience. A piece of schmutz and a Tiffany diamond become the same thing once they’re photographed—they become photographs. I have a love/hate relationship with this power of the camera to flatten difference.” (Sholis, B (2013))

IllFormVoid31_620_webFig. 1. Untitled 31 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

Untitled-no-18Fig. 2. Untitled 18 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

08_IllFormVoid_49_2013-1024x787Fig. 3. Untitled 49 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

Having looked further into Letinsky’s Ill Form and Void Full series I have decided that I am going to make use of her style of still life photography for assignment 5. I’m already producing a body of work on eating disorders, and Letinsky’s style of cannibalising photographs adds an additional element that I can use to explore anorexia. Catabolism is a state in which the body turns its own proteins (muscle) into energy which can then be used so it can function. The body destroys itself in order to preserve itself. I am going to seek permission from Letinsky to use her photography in order to do so.

Illustrations

Figure 1, Letinsky, L; Untitled 31, Ill Form and Void Full [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018

Figure 2, Letinsky, L; Untitled 18, Ill Form and Void Full [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Figure 3, Letinsky, L; Untitled 49 [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

References

Lin, A; 2016; Laura Letinsky; Online: AT: https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Sholis, B; 2013; Interview With Laura Letinsky; Online: AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Addition References

http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/ (accessed on 26/12/2018

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura-letinsky (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Eating Disorder Recovery And The Holiday Season – Anxious

I’m going to stay with supportive friends over the holiday period. I’m feeling excited to be spending time with them again.

However, I’m very anxious about changes in my routine and having different foods for lunch and dinner. My breakfast and snacks will remain the same.

What can I do to stay safe?

  • Attend the online mutual aid groups that are working for me
  • Stay in telephone, WhatsApp and email contact with others in recovery
  • Be honest with my friends if I am struggling
  • Prepare lunch and snacks to take out with me – I can’t choose food in the community if I’m hungry, it panics me
  • Read recovery literature
  • Focus on this meal. The only meal I can eat is the one in front of me
  • Expect emotional discomfort – it’s OK to feel

I’ve also discovered that a recovery group called anorexic and bulimic anonymous have a 24 hour meeting that I can pop into for as long or short a time as I want to. anyone with a desire to stop unhealthy eating practices can attend. It’s from 10pm (EST) on Christmas eve till 10pm  (EST) Christmas day. It’s on zoom and the meeting code is 862 815 9185.

I’ll also be in touch with my nutritionist/therapist, I speak with him on Christmas eve. The friends I am staying with are incredibly laid back, and they are not concerned whether I eat from my plan or eat with them. So if being flexible, and eating with them isn’t right then I can revert to my plan.

Wishing all a happy Christmas.

Resources

United Kingdom

United States Of America

Canada

India

Australia

 

Where Did The Peace Come From? And Two Successful Food Challenges

Having an eating disorder is hard work, and these early stages of recovery have been frightening, difficult, shameful and incredibly rewarding. My history has been to come out of long periods of anorexic restriction, only to flip into bulimia or compulsive over-eating.

This time is different, it hasn’t been plain sailing, and I have flipped between the three states. But I have made significant progress and can see stability coming through. So much so that I’ve had a lot of peace around food over the past week. I put that down to my supportive peers, my online community, attending mutual aid, and a reconnection with my spiritual pathway.

This week’s success have been:- Asking a friend to cook me a meal of his choice and allowing him to sort out my portion, and eating 1 slice of Jam Roly Poly, a food which I have previously binged on. I can’t afford to play the game of safe/unsafe foods – that will only take me back down the road of only eating 1 ciabatta a day. I’m not going there.

I have one more challenge this week, to go to a cafe and eat a fried vegetarian breakfast.

Keep smiling

oznorMy afternoon snack – 2 scones with butter and jam.

IMG_20181205_175418.jpgBeef stroganoff – cooked for me by a friend.

 

A Surprise In The Mirror – Anorexia Recovery And A Huge Step Forward

My journal entry for December the first, 2018

Today I looked myself in the eye, I paused and looked at my face, and I looked well.

Breathe – I look well.

This was a very special experience for me. When my eating disorder ruled my life I loved feeling my bones. Rightly or wrongly I got joy from doing so, it was as if I was touching my essence. But to do so I was killing me, harming me, putting my life at risk of serious injury, illness and death. I wasn’t in denial. I knew that I was doing so, and I didn’t care.

Today I had a sober day in my eating practice. I had three meals and three snacks. Other than the occasional over-eating I have followed my meal plan for three months now.

And today, I looked myself in the eye and I looked well. I CAN lovingly nurture my body and look and feel well – even if I’m not happy with my weight gain.

This morning I dropped off my 30 inch waist jeans at a charity collection point. I would love to keep them. I still want to fit into them again, but not as much as I want photography, travel and study. I cannot keep one foot in anorexia and one in recovery. I am not willing to let go of my passion, photography is of more value to me than chasing the impossible, unobtainable anorexic goal post of the ever decreasing number.

Anorexia Recovery? Update

My recovery from anorexia and bulimia is sometimes frustrating. With the aid of my nutritionist I am now eating. I’m eating healthier than I ever have done, and I enjoy it. But I’ve put on weight and I have that voice in my head calling me fat and disgusting. Despite this I binged last night.

I won’t compensate, I won’t purge, I’ll follow what I’m meant to eat today.

My eating disorder is not about food. It’s a symptom of my desire and need for control because I find life scary, intolerable at times. I want to change how I feel. Recovery is scary because my feelings come back, because my powerlessness over life comes back.

I will keep plodding on despite being scared. Despite my ups and downs. Two steps forwards and one step back is still a step forward.