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.

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 đź’“, 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

Anorexia: It Costs More Than An Arm And A Leg

This is my story, which has been published today in The Sociological Mail.  If you like to read about current affairs, lifestyle, psychology and sociology, and to hear diverse viewpoints, then its worth popping over and becoming a follower. Shenaka has published all of my photo-essays, which I am very grateful for, and she welcomes new contributors.

Disclaimer: This article covers sensitive subjects which may not be suitable for certain audiences.

For just over a year I have been producing photography about anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders. This is the beginning of a photographic body of work which I intend to exhibit. I have had an eating disorder since I was 17 years old, which for me has predominantly been anorexia. Shaneka from The Sociological Mail has given me the opportunity to tie these projects together and to share about my history with an eating disorder.

I can only speak from my own experience. I am not an expert in the field, and I am not medically trained, but I have a lot of knowledge about eating disorders. I think that it’s common for people with eating disorders to arm themselves with information, I most certainly have. The anorexic brain becomes distorted and narrowly focused. It does this because the brain isn’t getting the nourishment which it requires to function, and hormone production increases around hunger and appetite cues. Thoughts about food increase to the point of obsession, and for me this also includes a focus upon my eating disorder. I have spent hours of my life reading about anorexia from all sources, I do particularly enjoy peer reviewed research. There have been a few occasions when I have had to correct professionals who don’t know the correct information, or when they have tried to coerce me into doing things their way. The knowledge that I have gained has become a barrier to accepting treatment, and hand on heart, that’s why I spent those hours reading. It has been a brick wall that has kept anorexia and I within, defending ourselves against those who were assaulting us by trying to cajole, manipulate or compel me to eat. Ultimately the justifications that I have used have harmed me, because I have been compelled to have treatment under the Mental Health Act, against my wishes. My refusal to have treatment has damaged my body and my mind. The consideration of treatment, having to eat and recovery have filled me with fear.

Fear has been a recurring theme throughout my life, and I think that there is a link between my eating disorder and fear. I experienced a lot of trauma during my childhood, repeatedly and in many forms. I had a violent alcoholic step-father, and a mother that didn’t protect me or my siblings from his violence. Sadly Mum was also violent and emotionally abusive, and she was inconsistent, giving and withholding love. As a young child, I had to learn to read people, it was self-protection – “what do I need to do to stay safe today”. This hasn’t left me, and my body and mind are always alert to potential risk. Unfortunately, this even impacts upon my closest friendships. I was also abused sexually, and when I informed my mother and (the latest) step-father I was ignored. From early on I knew that it didn’t matter whether I did well or failed, I would be in trouble anyway.

I took an overdose when I was 17. I can’t tell you why because I don’t know. As soon as I had taken it I went to hospital because I hadn’t intended to do it. However, it was a turning point that led to the onset of my anorexia. My mum threw me out because I had overdosed and I couldn’t tell her why I had done so. I moved into a friends caravan and I started to unravel.

I had never heard of anorexia, bulimia or self-harm, but I started cutting myself and restricting calories. I would eat two slices of toast with mustard each day, and vomit as soon as I had eaten it. Surprisingly, I had no support from the mental health services for a couple of years, and it took until my early twenties to get diagnosed with anorexia – binge/purge subtype. By this point, I had so many difficulties that we didn’t get anywhere with my eating disorder, nor my other mental health issues. I had several hospital admissions because of suicidality and depression, and my eating disorder continued. There were short periods of rapid weight gain due to binging, which were then followed by rapid weight loss because of restricting.

When the opportunity came along for me to use amphetamine I did. By this point, I was aware that it speeds up the metabolism and reduces the desire to eat. It was successful on that level, but my mental health worsened with the development of intense paranoia. I started to distrust my friends and became so scared of them that I walked out of my flat, got a train halfway across the country, and ended up in a homeless hostel. Paranoia is a feature of my poor mental health, and I am sure that the amphetamine contributed towards its development.

I progressed from using amphetamine to heroin, which precipitated a further crisis, but one which meant I became ready and willing to take responsibility for, and the necessary action to change my life. When I got clean I knew that I had to eat because if I didn’t then I was unlikely to stay away from substances. So I started eating three meals a day. Gradually my portions increased, and I put on more weight than I needed to. I was fully aware that missing a meal was risk-taking behaviour, and I stuck solidly with the plan for 6 years. Although by now I had progressed to over-eating with regular binges. Then every now and again I would miss a meal. It really wasn’t a regular thing, to begin with, but over time those missed meals increased. I liked the sense of power, being able to overcome hunger by not eating. I experienced a strong feeling of being in control, so the number of meals that I missed increased. The period from when I started missing meals and back to intense anorexic behaviour took several years. But once I had started missing meals and experiencing the feeling of power and control that came with it, then it was inevitable that fully restrictive behaviour would ensue.

My wife and I separated, and I moved and found new employment. The work was intense, and I stopped having lunch. I didn’t eat breakfast by this point, and my evening meal consisted of a bread roll sliced in two, with half a tin of tuna on top of each piece, and sometimes with cheese on top (if I had the cheese it was toasted and lots of black pepper). I lost weight very quickly.

One meal a day went down to not eating at all. I mean nothing. I went 52 days with only fluids – I have to say I was fu)*i:g nuts at this point. I couldn’t think properly, my memory went, I couldn’t answer peoples questions because my brain had shut down. I guess it was preserving the essentials for survival and switching everything else off. Not eating for these kinds of long periods is both easy and hard. The obsession and compulsion to resist food is overwhelming and coupled with an obsession to buy and hide food, to write out recipes, watch all the tv cookery shows, and to cook for friends. I loved to smell food. At that point, just smelling food felt like it was filling me up.

The compulsion to not eat was what made not eating easy, I can’t explain what that’s like. Perhaps it’s similar to determination, but 100 times stronger. It’s a fixation, it doesn’t matter what you say to me, I will not eat. It doesn’t matter what I say to me, what I think, rationalisation – I WILL NOT EAT. My self-hatred increased over this period of “fasting” I didn’t try to fight it, just accepted that it was linked to not eating, and my self harm returned, but that’s OK because I’m not eating. With hindsight I can say that the more people tried to get me to eat, or put pressure on me too, the firmer my determination to not eat became. Again it’s that sense of control. My whole life felt out of control, except for the will that I had to not eat and to control the size of my body, and no matter how hard you tried, you could not take that away from me.

The worst experience was the self-hatred, shouting at myself, calling myself names, and the self-harm. I’ve self-harmed before, as a coping mechanism, and it’s been (for want of a better word) gentle. However, during this period I cut aggressively out of anger, rage, and hatred. I cut names into my legs and chunks out of my arms. When I look back on that time I have empathy for myself, I actually feel sorry for myself. How I treated and spoke to myself at that point was tragic, it brings a tear to my eye to think of it.

I was referred to a community mental health team and could attend their day centre. It was a safe space, daily occupation and it provided me with a connection with other people. I used the centre to help me get back into a pattern of eating, it was a slow process, and I was allowed to go at my own pace. They had no eating disorder training so they observed and encouraged but ultimately left me to sort out and manage my own recovery.

After not eating for so long the brain produces hormones to make you feel hungry, which is why there is often an obsession with food for many people with anorexia. For some of us, it also means that when you begin to eat again there can be an overwhelming urgency to do so, it certainly did for me. My food slowly increased and developed into compulsive overeating, and I put all the weight that I had lost back on, and more. It took six months to do so, and then I stopped eating again. Without effective treatment, the cycle continues.

My anorexia is extreme. I don’t restrict food like many, I completely stop eating. I still drink coffee with skimmed milk, herbal tea, and juice, but I won’t have any food at all. My mind becomes so rigid, fixated on not eating, I am either thinking about not eating, researching anorexia, or hoarding food. I spent so much money on food with absolutely no intention of eating it. It got so bad that a friend had to come around and clear my flat out. It’s such a strange compulsion, to starve and be obsessed with food. I wish there was a way that I could put into words just how strong both obsessions are. There is just nothing that I can compare it too. Hoarding is a common symptom of starvation and anorexia, which was also demonstrated by the Minnesota experiment (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx).

This period of not eating lead to me, once again, being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. I had stopped eating for 56 days at this point, and I had refused all of their offers of help, including meal replacement. I really did not believe that there was anything wrong with me at all. Thing is, I have other mental health problems as well as an eating disorder, and these include anxiety, paranoia and suicidal ideation. There are times when not eating reduces or stops these symptoms. Not always, but this was a time in which my I became symptom free, and that makes me feel well. Who would want to change if they were free from other overwhelming and disabling symptoms?

I was given the option of having meal replacement drinks and building up my calories or going into the medical hospital for nasogastric feeding. I chose the meal replacement. It really wasn’t easy, and in that hospital, I only got up to 900 calories a day. I then went to an eating disorders unit as an inpatient, which I found challenging, stressful and intrusive. I tried to want to be there, but having other people in control of the food which was going into my body was too difficult. I would argue with the dietician every time that we met up, was very hostile and resistant to treatment. They got my calories up, but I then asked if I could leave. I really don’t do well when others have control over me or my food, and I don’t do well as an inpatient in hospital. I never have. It makes it so hard for the professionals to work with me. I guess that’s why I am mid-forties and still sick and suffering from an eating disorder. Perhaps control is the issue rather than the food. Feeling out of control or that others are in charge of me induces intense fear, which leads me to feel like I have to escape.

Once they had discharged me I reduced my calories and started to purge every day. There was a community eating disorder therapist whom I was referred to. She was patient with me, and we developed a plan between us. I agreed to get to a minimum of 1200 calories per day. This was to be an initial target and is based upon the fact that with 1200 calories our organs can function. It’s the level that a patient would be given if they were in a coma. The other thing that she was very clear about was that I needed to have blood pressure, blood tests, and an ECG each week. If any of these indicated that I needed medical care, either as an inpatient or outpatient then I had to have it. It was made clear that if I didn’t comply then I would be detained under the Mental Health Act. She let me go at my own pace, and I slowly introduced solid foods to replace the drinks that I was on. I have to say that she was the best therapist that I have had for my eating disorder. She had boundaries and limits, explained these to me, and then worked with me as an individual. She understood how strong my control issues with regard to food were, and helped me to make progress. I got to 1500 calories per day, was eating solid food most of the time, and my physical health was improving.

Unfortunately, I got a sudden bout of depression and tried to kill myself. Whilst in the psychiatric hospital I started to binge. The staff on general psychiatric wards in the UK are generally not eating disorder trained, and they do not help a patient with anorexia to either eat or build up eating slowly. Having so much access to food after a long period of starvation sent those hormones wild again. The hunger was intense, and the amount of food that I would eat left me in pain all of the time. After eating the hospital dinner I would call up a take away, order a meal deal for two or three people, and sit and eat all of it. There was no real enjoyment of the food, just an insatiable appetite and an inability to stop eating once I had begun.

I find it so sad that I have been through all of this, and the harm that my poor body has had to cope with. Getting the right treatment for eating disorders in the UK does not always happen. I have no specialised eating disorder support at the moment, and this is a common issue for many sufferers. Part of it is the area that I live. In the UK each individual health authority decides how it is going to spend its budget, and which services it will commission. Here they funded one community eating disorder therapist to cover the whole county. She has changed role recently and hasn’t been replaced, and neither has the dietician who left last year.

So how did I get to this point on this occasion? My compulsive overeating following the last hospital admission led to me developing diabetes. I am terrified of the doctors and the hospital, so I looked into the research results from Newcastle University into reversing type two diabetes. They put their patients onto a very low calorie diet, which is medically supervised at all stages. The diet lasts for eight weeks, and then other foods are slowly introduced. The results are astounding. Type two diabetes can be reversed. Having reviewed the research results I decided that I would create my own very low calorie diet so that I could reverse my diabetes, which I have managed to do. However, the reduction in calories soon triggered the anorexic thoughts and behaviour, and I lost control.

Something was different this time though – my photography studies. I love photography and I love studying with the Open College of the Arts. My photography has developed considerably, and so has my contact with people. I can walk up to strangers on the street and ask if I can photograph them, and I have photographed at many events and around large groups of people. I feel safe with a camera in front of my face, and the whole experience is mindfulness in action. Its like I slow down, real slow, I look and see all that is around me, completely focused, present and in the moment. In January I returned to not eating anything at all. This time I went for 18 days. During that time my motivation to study disappeared and I became depressed. I couldn’t live with the impact it had on my photography so I began to eat again. Not a lot at all, but it was enough to make a difference. This has also been a time where not eating/severe restriction has had a positive impact on the reduction of other mental health symptoms. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts for some time, my anxiety has reduced, and so has the paranoia to a degree. I still get PTSD symptoms, but these are more manageable when my other symptoms are low. My energy increased significantly as well. Lack of food intake can mean that the body produces more adrenaline and cortisol, and this increases energy. To be honest it has been an absolutely amazing time that I have really enjoyed.

I haven’t really worked with my psychiatric team, and I have done the absolute minimum that I could get away with in order to stay out of hospital. I think that I have made it look like I am working with them and want to get well, but that hasn’t been my truth on the inside, until….

I went on holiday to London. It was to be a three week holiday so that I could be a tourist, make the most of the sights and scenes in London, go to galleries, museums, gardens and theatres. It was also an opportunity for me to meet up with my fellow students. Sadly, after just a week I became really ill. I felt dizzy, sick, and thought that I was going to pass out. I got to the point of not being able to function. My motivation to study and for photography went. Then a couple of weeks afterwards I was with a close friend, we had been out in his car for about an hour and we went for a coffee. My blood pressure dropped and I was unable to walk. These incidents frightened me into realising that I need recovery and I need it now.

Recently I have been making progress, and my photography has been an important part of that process, the enjoyment of photography is my motivation for change in a way that fear of dying from anorexia is not. I now know that if I do not make a drastic attempt to recover then I will suffer more serious health problems, be unable to take photos, and risk dying. Anorexia has the highest death rate as a proportion of sufferers than any other psychiatric disorder.

People can and do recover from eating disorders and anorexia. I was aware of the statistics about partial and full recovery, as well as those who never recover, but now I have started to attend an online peer support group for people with anorexia and bulimia I have met people, who I relate to, and who are in recovery. Meeting others who are no longer affected by the symptoms of their eating disorder gives me so much hope. Peer support isn’t the only thing that I need. Although I have a psychiatric and medical team, they are not eating disorder trained, and they have not replaced their dietitian or therapist. However, I have managed to find an experienced eating disorders therapist, who is also experienced in nutrition and diet. I grew up in a family of chefs, I know what a nutritious and balanced diet is, so why can’t I just do it? I am afraid of food, there are very few foods which I eat, I am obsessed with calories. I need help to overcome these difficulties, and I also need someone whom I can build up trust with so that they can manage my meal plan until I am able to put things into practice. I need to trust them to manage the calories for me. It’s a big part of letting go of controlling behaviour.

Eating disorders are not about food, even though the symptoms suggest that they are. Eating disorders are about control. By controlling my food intake, weight and body shape, I can  avoid or suppress fear, feelings, circumstances and the uncertainties of life.

Yesterday was a very big step for me. I consider it to be the first day of my recovery. Most people with anorexia go through intense obsessions with foods, watching TV shows about foods, reading recipe books, cooking for others and not eating, and some of us hoard food. Over months I spent hundreds of pounds buying food that I had no intention of eating, and hiding around the house, even though I live alone. Before I could have friends visit I informed them that they were not to touch the hoarded food. Yesterday I sorted through it, binned what was out of date, and have bagged the rest for the local food-bank. A momentous step for me, and I promise you it wasn’t easy. I cried, I felt angry, and I needed to reach out for support. But I did it. I am proud of myself for doing so, so proud that I bought myself some flowers. I earned them (written three weeks ago).

I accept that this is not going to be an easy process and that it will take time. There will be times when my emotions feel too intense and overwhelming, and the regime of three meals and snacks is frightening. With help, I have introduced a couple of new foods, cereal, and jacket potato with tuna or chili. The rest are a few select foods that I feel safe with. There are times when I feel so out of control, which isn’t surprising. Change does mean letting go of the old control measures and trying the unfamiliar. The amount of emotion that I experience around the times that I am eating now has been surprising, and often very intense. But I want to study, I want to walk around and take photos, and I cannot have that without recovery. Recovery is possible, which I now know because I have found a community of recovering people.

If you have an eating disorder or think that you may do, and are not currently receiving support then please seek help. Your doctor is important because there are so many health complications with eating disorders. Perhaps you can talk to someone who you trust and ask them to go to the doctors with you. There are also eating disorders charities in many countries around the world. They can answer questions that you may have and provide you with information and support. There are also many peer support groups around the world as well. We all have to find our own way, but we never have to do this alone.

Thank You for reading and best wishes, Richard.

 

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

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.

sdrFig tree

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.

cofFruit bearing fig tree

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.

cofOrange

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.

cofApple

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

cofMelon

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

A Successful Day Does Not Have To Feel Good! Thankyou.

Yesterday was a day won. That I won. That we won. Yesterday I succeeded.

Yesterday I felt physically unwell and in distress, and was challenging mentally and emotionally. I went to bed drained and had nightmares that involved me being force fed, binging and people being intensely violent towards me. But yesterday was very much a successful day for me.

Despite my panic around calories and feeling the need to restrict my calories further, along with an obsession about binging, I did neither.

I stuck to the foods and calories that my eating disorder team and I have agreed. This is an achievement considering how I felt.

I was nurtured by my friend P and cousin L, and supported by you, my friends and fellow bloggers. I thankyou all so so much. I can’t express how much being nurtured and supported helped.

This old saying rings true:-

I alone can do it, but I cannot do it alone.

I can make no promises about today. I’ve woken up with the desires to binge and starve, and yet I feel much calmer and more positive, and I feel very grateful that yesterday was a successful day.

Anorexia Is Impacting Upon My Health – I Feel Torn

I would prefer to not have to face up to the reality that anorexia is having an impact upon my health. I would prefer to be in denial or refuse to accept it. However, I have a stronger desire to stay out of hospital.

I had to cut short my trip to London because of weakness, dizziness and being close to passing out. Whenever I stand up I now go dizzy (orthotic hypotension). My back and shoulders ache alot of the day (muscular hypotrophy). I’m walking more slowly (muscular hypotrophy, bradycardia and muscular hypotrophy of heart muscle). I have continuosly cold legs and arms (circulatory and anaemia). Actually writing this all here has just had an impact upon my perspective. Seeing it all together is concerning.

Yesterday I had to see the psychiatric nurse for blood pressure and blood tests, and my blood pressure was low enough for her to seek additional input from the psychiatrist and it was touch and go as to her agreeing to me visiting a friend for three days.

We agreed that I would increase my calories again by the usual increment. I was ok with this until I re-read the amount of calories in peanut butter which I have every other day. I had worked this our previously as being 120calories per day less than what I actually have, and this is scary. It means that by sticking to what I currently eat, I’m still having more calories than what the increase would take me up to.

That’s why I feel torn. Medically I need to be on considerably more just to maintain organ function, and substantially more to maintain my weight and stay out of hospital.

Knowing how many calories I’m actually having, rather than I thought is terrifying. I want to decrease my calories because of this. I can’t decrease or stay the same without damaging my health further, and meaning at some point in the near future I will end up in hospital. I’m terrified of increasing my calories.

If you don’t have an eating disorder this probably makes no sense. Despite having anorexia I can see that it makes no sense, but seeing that doesn’t stop the anorexia from being an all powerful, overwhelming experience. That’s mental illness. All I can commit to today is to not decrease my calories. I can’t speak for tomorrow. But just for today I will stick to the same intake.

Anorexia And Managing Food On Holiday – Yay Two Shows Booked – Action Man

I am in the early stages of my recovery and have a long way to go before my nutrition and calorific intake are healthy. I’m still on 660 calories and the photo is of my food intake for today. I have ciabatta with either peanut butter or marmite every day, and have done for months. Each time I’ve increased my calories I’ve added cookies, belvita or nature valley (low bulk with higher calories and easier to cut/split so that I don’t go over my calories).

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These are foods that I feel safe with and any consideration of eating something different leaves me feeling unsafe.

Going away from home is risky when it comes to eating disorders. I have a very rigid routine at home. I eat at 5.15 pm and watch an episode of pointless and then an episode of a box set while I’m eating.

My holiday means that I can’t be certain I’ll be able to eat at the same time, I won’t be able to sit down and watch those shows as I will be out, and I won’t get the ciabatta with peanut butter or marmite. My default mode when I feel unsafe is to not eat. I don’t ever feel hungry so not eating is easy, but it’s also what’s had me hospitalised on three previous occasions.

I’ve spent three days discussing this on the phone with my friend N. My plan is:-

A) Prawn sandwich (340-360 Cal) topped up to 660 with cookies.

B) London is a big city and there will be loads of places which will sell low-calorie Panini or wraps.

C) I’ve packed my cookies already, so if I don’t feel safe with A or B then just have 660 cals of cookies.

I’ve booked two shows today. I’m off to see The Book of Mormon and also The Jungle, which has a narrative based upon life at the former refugee camp known as The Jungle in Calais.

On Monday I’m going to try to get tickets to attend two different football matches. Although I’ve planned trips to museums, formal gardens, nature reserves/zoo, galleries and meeting people, I’m not paying in advance as I’d like some flexibility.

I’m going to add a travel category and upload little bits and pieces when I can. This little guy wants his photo taken every day.

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If you have, or think that you may have an eating disorder and need help then talk with someone who you trust, and see if they will support you to see your Dr.

Most countries have eating disorder charities which provide support, information and resources. Help is available and recovery is possible.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

My Current Experience Of Anorexia

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.

I’ve had an eating disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia the age of 17. Up until the age of 29 anorexia controlled my life and had a serious impact upon my mental health and well-being. Then slowly I started to increase my calories and have a healthy diet. Over a number of years I began to eat more and more and my anorexia turned into binge eating disorder.

For the past four years I have switched between binge eating disorder and anorexia, and each period of these illnesses lasts for many months. With binge eating disorder I feel completely out of control and full of shame and guilt for eating food.

My current experience of anorexia is completely different from that during my younger years. Right now I like my experience of anorexia (and I only speak of my own experience). I feel completely in control, my mental health has improved greatly. My suicidal thoughts have diminished and my anxiety is quite low, although I do still experience paranoid thinking and feelings and have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

My self-esteem improves with anorexia, I take more care of my appearance and my environment, and I am full of energy, my motivation is good, I buy new clothes which fit me and there are parts of my body which I like (such as my arms, shoulders and lower legs). It’s really quite nice to like parts of myself, and on the whole, to be enjoying life.

The downside is that my health is starting to deteriorate, my blood chemistry changing, my blood pressure has dropped, I have orthostatic hypotension, and the QT interval (part of the heartbeat) is beginning to elongate. This means that I could become an inpatient for the treatment of anorexia.

I’m working very closely with my psychiatric team, and we are following an anorexia nervosa harm reduction model. Increasing my calorific intake too quickly increases my anxiety and suicidal thoughts, so we are increasing my calories at a very slow rate. Every increase that my psychiatrist and I have agreed I have stuck to, which is very positive and am pleased that I am making progress. My progress is slow and it won’t be enough to keep me out of hospital, but it is progress. We are trying to keep me out hospital for as long as possible because I find hospital and overwhelmingly scary experience.

On a personal level I have no desire to either increase my calories or my weight, why would I when anorexia improves the quality of my life experience? The only motivator that I have to change is the desire to stay out of hospital and to reduce the length of time of a likely admission.

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.
Todays total calories. Although this may appear to be a small amount of food, it is double that of what it was in May when my psychiatrist and I agreed to follow the harm reduction model.

My current experience of anorexia, which is a positive experience for me, is far different than it wasfor me in between the ages of 17 and 29, and I am aware that other people’s experience of anorexia is often very negative.

Recovery is possible from all eating disorders, and I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of support froman  eating disorders charity. Am I a positive role model for recovery from anorexia? On one hand my response to this is no because I’m enjoying my experience of anorexia and I am still losing weight. On the other hand I have to answer yes, because I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of third sector support. I have also stuck to every increase in calories which I’ve agreed with my psychiatrist, without backtracking at all, and I’ve stopped purging completely. Recovery in my mind is doing anything which increases quality of life. Following the harm reduction model has meant that I’m experiencing less muscular pain and increased ability to walk around, and be able to be fully engaged with my photography and study.

A larger town that is nearby to me has an outpatient day service for people with eating disorders which I have requested to attend. The difficulty is funding for a place. The day service is run and managed by different NHS trust than the one for the area where I live, and obtaining funding from my local NHS trust to attend an out of area service is time-consuming and frustrating.

For those of you who read this post, who also have an eating disorder would like to stress that recovery is possible, my recovery may not be the greatest example, the recovery can be difficult and slow process for many of us. Baby steps, one step at a time, but sticking with these steps and moving forwards is definitely progress which is achievable and sustainable.

If you have an eating disorder please try to talk to somebody you know and trust, and ask them to support you in attending your doctors.  There are many eating disorder services and charities throughout the world.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC