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.
Profiterole, 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.
Singapore 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.
I 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.
I 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.
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.
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.
My afternoon snack – 2 scones with butter and jam.
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.
As well as getting rid of the foods I had hoarded, I have been cleaning my kitchen. On Tuesday I cleaned my cooker.
Then yesterday I cleared out and cleaned the fridge and freezer. I hadn’t done so for over a year.
Today I have cleared and cleaned the surfaces, draws and all crockery and utensils. Everything now has a place.
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.
Last week was frightening for me. Not being able to walk, following on from returning home from London because I was sick left me feeling vulnerable and scared.
As well as having anorexia I have binge eating disorder. I had a battle in my mind last week between starving, binging or sticking to the plan. I stuck with the plan initially and then flipped into binging.
I find it hard to discuss binging because I feel both guilt and shame for doing so. Guilt for eating and shame for being disgusting and greedy (guilt is about what I have done, shame is about who I am).
So I feel ashamed. I hurt. And there is further torment. Life is not black Abdul white, one thing or another, I so wish it was. I’m desperate to stop eating, to get back into the (false) control of anorexia, I’m scared I won’t be able to stop eating. I also don’t want to stop eating, I want to binge and have the numbness that comes with the chemical high.
The shame is so intense it’s taken me a few days to decide whether to make this post. It’s easy to talk about my anorexic behaviour, even when it hurts, binge eating is a different matter.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.