Christmas should be a happy time spent with family and friends, but for the past 6 years I’ve spent the entire festive period wishing it was over as quickly as possible. Constantly stressing, obsessing and planning how I’d still manage to control my food intake and get away with eating as little as possible. I didn’t enjoy the family parties, and I didn’t think of how much stress it was causing my family and friends because I was so focused on letting the eating disorder remain my priority. But this year is different and for all those out there who’s struggling too, this is how i’m going to do it:
- Be less involved
In years past I’d have to know EXACTLY what food was going to be there on christmas day, boxing day and the days leading up to it so I could plan it all in advance, but this year I’ve left the food shopping to my parents and chose not to go. This might not seem like a big deal, or that it would make much of a difference but CHOOSING not to stress over it, takes away the ability to over think everything.
- Focus on other things
Don’t make plans around food, be mindful of what and how you’re eating throughout the day but let it be a part of your day, not the centre of your decisions. This year I have ‘planned’ to go to my sisters house on xmas eve for a party-to drink, socialise, play games and watch christmas films; I have ‘planned’ to spend christmas day with my family and I have ‘planned’ to enjoy our annual family boxing day party-but i have not ‘planned’ what i will or will not eat on these days.
- Externalise your eating disorder
As weird as it sounds (and its a difficult concept to grasp when an eating disorders been part of you for so long) separate yourself from it. Think of it as a totally different entity to you who is not invited.
- Be spontaneous
Take the opportunity to challenge yourself outside you’re ‘normal’ routine. If your normal ‘rules’ are to have ‘x’ amount of set meals or snacks a day…listen to your hunger and your body..grab a quality street between meals, toast a marshmallow, have 4 big meals and the occasional chocolate/dessert instead of 6 little ones..whatever it is to challenge the disordered thoughts and integrate you into normality with what everyone else is doing. It might just show you the world won’t fall apart if you stray from you’re safe routine and you might just enjoy yourself.
- Keep things in perspective.
In my case, it’s 3 days out of my normal routine..not tracking food..not planning meals..just joining in with the festivities and eating mindfully and intuitively and ENJOYING my time with my family and friends. I know I won’t binge because that’s not something I struggle with and I don’t restrict myself enough anymore to feel the desire to do so..but even so, if I over indulged a bit ‘too much’ or just more so than usual, 3 days is not going to kill me.
- Do it for others
This has been the biggest help for me recently. If you’re struggling to do it for yourself, do it for your friends and family. Try and take a more relaxed approach to make THEM happy, to make THEM proud and to give THEM a stress free christmas that they deserve. Even in normal day to day life this has been the best thought process to keep me on track when I’ve been struggling – thinking of how pleased they’ll be to see me succeed when they try so hard to support and motivate me!
So with all that being said, try to enjoy yourselves this Christmas, do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up what ever happens!!
Lots of love,
One sticking point that keeps re-occurring is how do you know if you’re recovered? Are you ever recovered or just permanently ‘in remission’ and learning to control the anorexic thoughts/behaviours?
Truthfully? I don’t know.
But one thing I have noticed is that you can’t expect a big change over night. Yes, sometimes there’s a point where you may have a sudden ‘revelation’ and truly decide you have hit rock bottom, can’t carry on and want to get better-i know i did- but by no means did this mean all my fears disappeared in a heart beat! The changes are so small that you don’t notice them day to day but you have to just focus on tiny goals every day. You can’t get disheartened by slow progress. Constantly work on one tiny challenge at a time and slowly slowly they add up. Set yourself 3-5 little goals for the week and focus on them, it’s like anything that takes practice, if you have the positive thoughts for long enough they eventually become the norm.
I’ve chipped away at my issues one manageable step at a time, sometimes feeling like i’m spinning my wheels and then one day I looked back and realised ‘oh I forgot to weigh myself this week’ – when previously it would be the first thing on my mind every morning and at numerous points throughout the day….or ‘oh I don’t count all my steps anymore’ – even though I can’t consciously remember deciding to stop. But the one biggest change I’ve noticed occur over time is my biggest fear is no longer gaining ‘too much’ weight. Yes, this is still a big fear of mine, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t-but the one thing I’m now scared of above anything else is the idea of relapse. It’s easy to forget the darkest times-and push them to the back of my mind because it’s too painful to remember all that distress, panic and exhaustion. The aching muscles and bones, the nights spent trying to stay awake out of fear that if I fall asleep I might not wake up. At the time it seems like your ‘safe little bubble’ because you don’t have feel anything -you’re completely numb to it-just plodding through each day. That is why recovery is so hard sometimes, you start to feel all the pain you have inflicted on yourself but blocked out at the time.
But I can honestly say it is 150% worth it- and nothing in this world could make me go back there.
So the take away from this is you don’t have to run before you can walk, or even crawl as the case may be but don’t stop. Keep looking forward and don’t look back.
Lot of love..Emma xo
Studies have shown that you’re in a healthier position, and have a longer life expectancy being slightly overweight than underweight…and now I know why..
Well as the majority of you know I’ve been doing really well over the last few months…continuously gaining weight, challenging anorexic thoughts/fears etc and generally just being a happier person.
If you’re offended by TMI i suggest you close the page now.
A couple of weeks ago I started to get pretty mild flu-like symptoms which were more of a nuisance than anything else, but 4 days ago things took a sudden turn for the worse and I’ve got what appears to be some sort of awful virus (or bacterial infection we don’t know yet) which has given me severe D&V, abdominal cramps to the point I can’t move, chest pain, fatigue and a complete inability to stay hydrated. Also a result of this, any food I manage to eat is coming straight back out of me (along with blood and all other sorts) making me lose half a stone in as little as 3 days. Half a stone thats taken me 21 weeks (just over 4months) to gain.
The past 2 nights I ended up back in hospital which for a start brought back a whole host of god awful memories, and resulted in them giving me some medication to help deal with the pain but other than trying to test the actual cause, there isnt an awful lot they can do except wait for it to pass. The concern obviously is how much more damage will be done in this time? And due to my initial low weight-how much leeway do I realistically have before things get seriously dangerous?
This brings me back to my initial point of how dangerous being underweight can actually be…even if you’re functioning well on a day to day basis and can convince yourself you’re absolutely fine – sure in that moment you ARE fine but you are also vunerable. You are able to catch things more easily as you’re immune system is weaker than the average individual, also meaning you are more badly affected by that illness and less capable of fighting it off. And secondly you don’t have the energy reserves in your body during this brief period of malnutrition where you are unable to absorb any of the food you provide yourself with and by this point there is nothing you can do except cross your fingers and hope for the best! – which is my current method of choice
I knew all this before and wasn’t purposefully keeping myself at a less than ideal weight-I was just still working towards my goal but if anyone out there is keeping themselves slightly underweight or ‘border-line’ healthy which i know many people do (especially young girls) purely for the sake of ‘looking good’ – really think of the consequences this could have on your health! Because trust me when I say it’s not worth it..
P.S everyone go and get a flu jab
So I’ve been hospital admission free for over a year and things are finally slotting into place
I’m starting to find comfort in recovery and the wobbly ‘uncertainties’ and fears are slowly becoming regular parts of my daily routine and continue to get easier.
Going away from home and outside of my ‘safe’ bubble (about which I’ll go into more detail in a seperate post) has taught me a lot and I have had plenty of time to think things over and reflect.
I’ve learnt the importance of learning to love yourself. As you are th only person you’re guaranteed to be with for life- wherever you go, there you’ll be. Make no mistake, this is VERY different to being ‘full of yourself’ which i have no intention of becoming..but rather treating yourself with the same respect and kindness as you would any of the loved ones in your life.
again this is something i’ve mentioned before but will continue to highlight as it is still misunderstood- an eating disorder is not for vanity- it is an expression of a much deeper problem.
I look back at my 15 year old self and just see a broken human being. The problems stemmed way beforethe weight cam off. I had no self love or self respect. It made me bitter, jealous and completely self destructive. Losing weight was never going to fix that like i thought it would, it was just a physical representation/manifestation of the broken relationship i had with myself-turning that into a broken relationship with food. A way to inflict pain on myself which the anorexia magnified as it got more intense-reinforcing the idea that this was what i deserved-gripping me tighter everyday- making it harder and harder to break free. and without addressing that real problem, and rebuilding that love and respect for myself- i would never had have the courage or strength to fight back, convince myself i deserved better and was capable of living a happy life- hell if i put all that energy i invested in hurting myself into something positive i might actually be able to radiate love, kindness and hope onto others…beyond saving my own life i might even be able to bring happiness into other peoples lives. we all have this potential as human beings and its up to us to utilise it. being able to bring light to other people lives is a gift-and you cant radiate love and kindness to anybody when you’re constantly at war with yourself and absorbed in your own hatred. You cant fight hate with hate.
Ill say it again-it has nothing to do with vanity-that girl on the left was not striving to look good, she was not striving to feel good- infact she felt nothing at all- she strived to feel numb.
Because feelings can be hurt you cant harm someone who it numb. Feelings left her vunerable, if she felt happiness it could be blunted, trust could be broken, hope could be destroyed and love could be unrequited, and this wasnt a risk she was willing to take.
Now the girl on the right is by no means fixed, physically and mentally she still has a way to go, a stone until she’s ‘healthy’, she is still infertile, and still has brittle bones but she is no longer waiting for perfection before she accepts herself. She loves herself now whilst she still works to better herself and is embracing the journey. Does she always get it right?Of course not! but she is slowly letting herself feel again..and amongst the feelings of anxiety and fear of what lies ahead she has moments of joy, hope and happiness which makes it well worth while. She wakes up excited about the life ahead of her rather than dread of another miserable day, and will continue to fight the shit that come her way 😉
congrats if you made it to the end of that one-that got lengthy! hahahaa
lots of love as always,
i have just posted this on instagram so if you’ve seen that just ignore this 😉 but for anyone who hasnt..
following on from my recent blog post it seems like things had been going pretty well..too well..then out of nowhere my weight gain slowed/stopped and the extreme hunger everyone talks about (that i thought id manage to avoid these past 5yrs with anorexia) has hit! theres research and the experience of others that suggests some people need in excess of 3000 calories to fully restore their bodies but ill hold my hands up to say i always thought id gain too much/too quickly as most people would t need that much to gain weight so hovered around the 2500 mark, only more recently moving up to around 2800 but still too scared to hit that 3000 number! which is ridiculous..its simply a number an irrelevant…i need however much i need to get healthy and if thats more than everyone else than thats simply tough and another challenge i have to deal with! the number itself doesn’t matter!..if it was any other illness id take as much medicine as i was prescribed and wouldnt be bothered how much anyone else had to take! so in light of these recent goings on with my weight gain stalling im biting the bullet and this marks my final snack in my second day of hitting 3000 bloody calories! but ive got a feeling im going to have to keep increasing to continue getting results both health wise and making some serious gains in the gym 😉 💪hahaa so lets see how far this has to go! imma keep fuelling those little muscles of mine, attempt to grow some form of booty and keep you all updated xoxo
So as depressing as this post might sound…which is not my intention..I think I need to highlight how as amazing the journey through recovery is, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Infact far from it. It’s a scary and intense emotional rollercoaster, and whenever you think you’ve overcome one hurdle you’re smacked straight in the face with another.
There’s a period I think we all experience when we ‘see the light’, the epiphany of recovery I refer to as ‘the eye of the storm’-where you’ve made the decision to recover which in theory is the hardest part and from this point on life will be happy and everything will fall into place as if nothing ever happened right??
Well not quite.. I fell under this false illusion for a merry few weeks where I almost forgot about all those painful years..but then consequences of all the damage I’d done started coming back around to remind me-the second part of the storm that we all have to deal with.
Firstly the random flash backs/bad memories: It’s funny how simply a smell or sound can bring back so many feelings..there were some terrible sleepless nights and somewhat traumatic experiences in various inpatient units..seeing things a naive 15 year old should never be exposed to..spending days on end crying in grimsby feeling afraid and alone-missing my family who were over 80 miles away..
Years of feeling exhausted, cold, aching from wasting muscles and bruised from ‘unpadded’ bones. Listening to my parents cry themselves to sleep when they thought I wouldn’t make it through the night. All these feelings became easy to push to the back of my head at the time but now and again they come flooding back..and part of recovery is learning to deal with them all.
Secondly the ‘physical aftermath’…again, I’ve been getting my hopes up as I’m feeling so much better from a physical point of view, perhaps being lured into a false sense of security and forgetting how ill I have been (and not all that long ago) as results started coming in. My liver is still damaged, I’m still not regulating my blood sugar properly (frequent drops in blood sugar despite feeling fine), and my recent bone scan has shown i have severe osteopenia, right on the border of osteoporosis which would be irreversible. Considering bone health begins deteriorating at around 40-50 years old…for a 20 year old this is terrible news. This also doesn’t bode well for my chances of regaining my fertility-as female reproductive hormones and bone health are very closely connected.
There also may become times where you begin to miss your eating disorder. As bizarre as that sounds it became a comfort and a coping mechanism. So in times of stress, when you dont have anorexia anymore, you don’t know where to turn. There will be days when you’re still stuffing your face despite feeling physically sick, still not putting on a great deal of weight and you’ll just think ‘it would be so much easier to go back to how things were.’ And you’d be right, it would be easier, but you can’t expect to reap the rewards without putting in the work and if you want something bad enough you’ll be willing to work for it. And I want to live, not barely survive. So I’ll happily take this ‘storm’ with a pinch of salt if that means coming out stronger on the other side.
Keep fighting everybody,
Lots of love,
I’ve always struggled to distinguish myself from my anorexia the way others have.
Some people describe it as a ‘seperate voice’ in their head, or a friend enouraging them to restrict..shouting at them for ‘indulging’ and guiding them down the wrong path.
For me it never seemed quite like that..only like the internal conversation we all have with ourselves. In the same way I would think ‘did I lock the door? better go and check’ that same internal voice would say ‘that meal has too many calories, i will only have ‘X’ later’….or ‘i better go on a run’…or whatever method would lead to restriction and further weight loss. But weirdly enough the reason WHY never came into play…
I revert to the door scenario…it’s instinctive and somewhat engrained in your mind to want to check you’ve locked the door when there is doubt..you would automatically turn around and do so. You don’t stop and think ‘but why should i check? Is it likely for someone to break in? And if they were going to break in they’d probably break the door anyway not walk up to a house in the hope they left it open’ and consider not doing so. Or when I’d tell myself I had to revise for an exam..that wasn’t a disorder making me do it, and I didn’t sit and ask myself the reasons for revising or have to convince myself it was the right decision..I just cracked open a book and got on with it.
This was the same for restricting..I didn’t stop to wonder WHY I ‘should eat less’..and I imagine if I did I wouldn’t have had an answer. I didn’t want to die, I didn’t and don’t find being underweight attractive, I didn’t want attention, I didn’t want to upset my family all to the extent as many anorexic tendancies as possible were carried out in secret. I just did it because it was what I did.
As far as I was concerned by that point it was simply MY goals, MY choice and MY willpower..i never thought past that to the whys or whereforths. The two distint parts of me became apparant however when I was admitted to hospital for the first time. The obvious reaction to the outside world being distress and anger but really on the inside all I felt was relief. Relief that I was going somewhere where anorexia couldn’t hurt me anymore. There would no longer be the question of ‘should I eat this?’ because i would have no choice..anorexia would have no choice or say and couldn’t control me anymore. It hit me that they weren’t my goals or choices as all, Emma wanted to eat and nourish herself so badly but the anorexia wouldn’t let me. I realise now that there were two voices after all, but the anorexic voice was so strong that it drowned me out so I couldn’t make my own decisions and was completely controlled by an impulsive illness that took over my entire body without me even realising. I would speak without thinking about what I was saying..take food out the fridge then throw it straight in the bin without thinking.. and have gone on a long walk, taking 10/15 minutes before realising I’d even left the house. Yet I was totaling convinced I was calling the shots! It was a bit like finally escaping an abusive relationship after spending months convincing yourself they actually loved you, and in that sense it was extremerly scary to let go..jump into the ‘unknown’ of recovery. That anorexic voice had become such an integral part of me I couldn’t remember who I was without it, and still don’t know to this day to a massive degree.
It’s all extremerly sad, frightening and stressful alot of the time..especially when you can feel it try and creep back in, tempting you back to your old ways. Sometimes its still just a case of being mechanical..pushing those thoughts to one side, doing what I have to do and dealing with them later. Which begs the question can I ‘fully recover’ and ‘get rid’ of this seperate being called anorexia for good…or is it just a part of me that I’ll always have to fight to ignore?
A few years from now and i’ll give you the answer..
Lots of love always,
Apologies for the lack of posts as of late..it’s been a combination of being ridiculously busy and not having a great deal of imagination when it comes to writing something worth reading! But i’m back by popular demand 😉 hahaa obviously i’m joking but people have told me off a little bit for not documenting my ramblings so here goes nothing.
So first of all, I had my follow up from the trails in London and i was in the 50% category that recieved the real rTMS treatment! What that actually means for me? Im not entirely sure, and its probably too early to tell, but all i know is i’m in a much better place physically and mentally than before i went to London so hopefully these findings will contribute to a new and successful therapy in treating anorexia!
In reference to my plea for help, i’m not actually asking for all that much, I just want you to do two things for me..
firstly you may have seen on facebook that my mums lovely friend is raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support and many people including my mother are donating money for every pound i gain! no pressure then 😉 every little counts and i’ve shared the just giving page on my facebook so if you get the chance go and read ‘ Becky’s story’ and give what you can to Macmillan, or if you can’t-no worries, simply share it yourself in the hope someone else can 🙂
secondly I need you to tell me what you want! what would you like to read about? do you have any questions or topics you want covering? Anything from the psychological aspects to what i have to eat day to day to get this weight on…it’s probably more than you think hahaa
Just drop me a message on facebook and instagram and i’ll post again soon!
Lots o’ love
So its been a longgg time since my last post!..my bad!
But things are still going well! my blood results have improved significantly and my liver is basically fixed (woop! merry christmas to me)
However the blood tests weren’t all fun and games because it turned out some bacteria got in the needle and what i thought was a collapsed vain from all the stabbing, ended up being an infection giving me a beautifully painful red arm on christmas eve and a generous perscription of antibiotics!
Oh well, Christmas was quiet this year, but the annual Hynard boxing day party was as lively as ever! It was so so lovely to spend time with my family (even though some of them couldn’t make it due to the rain and floods :'(! ) and it made me even more determined to carry on improving! Just to think half a year ago i was practically on deaths door and last night I stayed up laughing and dancing with the most important people around me! There are soo many more celebrations to come, friends to make and time to spend with friends and family..frankly i can’t wait! Im so so greatful for the amazing people in my life and christmas is a great time to remember that!
Hope you all had a good one!
Love Emma xo
so my goals this month are a little different!
I have been doing well with both the mental and physical side of things recently but i still cant help but feel frustrated and still stuck/isolated in a little eating disorder bubble. I think that feeling of loneliness and isolation is what i find hardest about the eating disorder..not being able to be spontaneous, or go out with friends/family without anxiety or having to plan everything in advance! I know a lot of people plan what they’re going to eat in advance and it can be a great way to stay healthy..but i believe it becomes quite unhealthy if or when you become dependant on it..and not ‘planning’ causes you to become anxious or distressed. The same goes for the whole ‘clean eating’ malarky..its all well and good to want to eat healthy nutritious food the vast majority of the time out of choice and preference, but its not ok to have a fear of foods that my be deemed as ‘unhealthy’. Its a distorted thought, one chocolate bar or dessert every couple of days is not going to cause any sort of effect on your body or health that justifies genuine fear.
Fear is toxic, and the longer you leave it the more it grows..so i’m using this month to face my fears head on..I am certain that by the end of it i will still prefer to eat ‘healthily’ most of the time, I am also certain that i’m not going to turn into the cookie monster and eat rubbish day in, day out, nor will my body go into some sort of break down or blow up like a balloon. Again, these are distorted thoughts, and pushing the boundries the eating disorder has set is the only way i can prove them to myself as ‘untrue’. After that i can eat healthy food from a position of genuine choice, not being driven there purely by fear..and i’ll know i can handle any social situation, regardless to what i may or may not have to eat because i’ll have shown myself that relaxing for a little while wont make a significant difference on my body!
This may not make an awful lot of sense to many of you but it makes sense in my crazy little head!
now be gone, stop reading blogs and enjoy the wonderful festivities december will bring! 😉
love Emma xo