Self esteem at 15 project

Dear 15 year old me,

I know you think you are in control, that you know best, and that you have everything planned out. You’ll lose a few pounds, be a great dancer, be happy, confident and everything you’ve ever wanted to be. I want to tell you that this is not the case. Or at least you’re about to go the wrong way, a very dangerous way about it.

If you continue down the path you have set yourself, i can’t begin to describe the suffering it will bring. You will not find happiness or satisfaction. You will spend everyday consumed with guilt, distress and obsession over your appearance.

The path you need is self acceptance, sure get healthier/fitter, but let go of your perfectionism and prioritise your health above all else, do not lose sight of that aim..to be healthy and happy. Drop the unrealistic goals and become aware of when you’re going too far. Look after the body you have been given before you do damage that is irreversible.

Please listen to your family and friends, they have your best interests at heart. Do not push them away. It will become clear who your true friends are so keep them close. Know you are good enough and be greatful of everything life has given you because its only when that is taken away will you realise how much you had to lose.

Ps. please do not chop all your hair off and dye it red because you will regret it (trust me), and stop putting foundation on your lips-not a good look..oh and go eat a muffin.

much love…and older and wiser you. 🙂 xx

Happy mondays

Ladies and gentleman, we have finally had success on the railway!
It would appear that my previously crappy journeys have brought around some well deserved train karma because for the first time there were no cancelations, delays, or fatalities! I was somewhat thrilled.

Back to the important stuff, i’m over half way through the trial now and it’s still pretty overwhelming. I’m still finding my feet in london but i love it here, definately considering moving down for uni but thats something to consider later on!
I’ve been thinking alot lately about ‘living in the moment’. It’s great to have long term goals, to have plans and be organised but sometimes we get carried away looking at the bigger picture and forget to do the things that benefit us right now.

In my case for instance, and for many recovering anorexics i assume, a large percentage of my time is focused on how i’m going to maintain my goal weight when i reach it as that is the position i want to be in. But because my thoughts are so focused on this goal, my actions start reflecting that, and i begin to eat/excersise as if im maintaining this healthy weight already. As great as these actions are, and will eventually have their place, they dont benefit me right now in GAINING the weight to get there. And i find myself in a limbo of ‘doing well’, eating well/not restricting, and being in a healthy positive mindset, but not moving forward physically. We need to act today in accordance to tomorrows goals. Think short term. And if next weeks goals are different, then next week you will act differently. We can’t pre empt what’s going to happen because we don’t know, we don’t know what we’re going to want next week or have to do to get there! Most of the time i waste hours worrying about something in a months time, then when i get to it i realise there was nothing to worry about!

So stop thinking about the worry in the days to come because you’re missing out on the happiness in today.

Over and out! Emma xo

The right way to recover

The title of this post might imply that i have found the answer, that i’ve seen the light, had a revalation and it will be plain sailing from this day forward.
I fooled you all because actually i’m still pretty clueless.

I don’t want this to turn into a negative post but i feel that honesty is important on this blog to give a true reflection of recovery, and the truth is i’m still struggling.

It’s so hard at the moment to figure out the best way to move forward..use a meal plan? dont use a meal plan? count calories? eat to intuition? There are pros and cons for each approach as i need to find a balance of making sure i eat enough (ruling out intuitive eating) but not becoming too obsessive and stuck in ‘eating disorder behaviours’. Lets be honest i dont want to count calories for the rest of my life. I have a constant fear of choosing the wrong approach and ending up in a position i regret, which is ridiculous as even if my worst fear came true of ‘overshooting’/gaining too much weight, lets say to the weight i was before i ever went on a diet, I wouldn’t be in a worse position than i am now. In both this hypothetical situation and the one i currently find myself in i’m at a weight im unhappy with and working towards my goal..if i ‘over shot’ and had half a stone to lose lets say, firstly atleast i’d still be healthy, and secondly its alot easier to lose half a stone than it is to put the 2 stone on it would take for me to get there! So i really have no idea why this is such an intense fear that stops me progressing time and time again when really the scary thought would be remaining where i am now forever.

I know what i want from life, i want to dance again, i want to get married and have kids, i want to have a successful career, i want to travel..all these things are on hold until i get my s**t together, but im terrified, and i dont even know what of.

So confusing.

I’m rambling a bit now and sorry if it makes no sense on paper, but it doesnt make much sense in my head either so i guess we’re all in the same boat! hahaa

Hopefully i’ll come to some conclusion soon, i’ll keep you all updated..

Emma xo

Hostel life and a lil’ bit of patience

Okay so i really cannot complain about the hostel im staying in. Its cheap, clean, nice staff, etc etc. however i cannot WAIT to get my own space back. Generally speaking i’ve slept pretty well here and all the girls in my dorm have been really mindful of eachother with keeping quiet/tidy etc etc. But i spoke too soon..because low and behold people wandered on in during the middle of the night last, switched on the lights and played what i could only recognise as candy crush on full volume on their phone. Safe to say i was not amused. I simply hid under my duvet to start with as im not one to like confrontation so gave them the benefit of the doubt to hurry up and get ready for bed but after about half an hour of candy crush madness sending me crazy i just got up, and asked them to turn off the light ..which prompted a look of death..oops. So much for making friends hahaa dont think ill be too popular with them later on but come on, theres a time and a place for these things and it is not next to my bed at 1am when im trying to sleep.

Anyway, trivialities out of the way, one thing i’ve noticed about myself through recovery is i have very little patience. I go through mad phases of positivity, feeling really motivated with hundreds of goals, then get really frustrated when i don’t see immediate change and throw in the towel. Its crucial to remember that after all the damage that has been done physically, i can’t expect to look and feel healthy after a week or two of eating enough. This is hard for me to deal with because i know i can spend the next 3 or 4 months doing really well and i’m still going to look ill and underweight to other people. Most onlookers will assume i’m still restricting and think i’m lying when i tell them otherwise. Even my family get frustrated when the changes day to day or even week to week are so minimal, it appears as though i’m not moving forwards..but it’s only an accumulation of these gradual changes that will finally get me out of the hole i’ve managed to put myself so onwards and upwards.
I’ve started some little extra changes today to contribute to the new ‘healthier’ me…step one i need to cut down on my caffiene intake drastically as my coffee addiction is borderline funny its so ridiculous. So i’m sat typing away with my hot water with lemon and ginger which i have to say is surprisingly good! Secondly, i’m ashamed to admit i turned to smoking during the more difficult stages of my anorexia but i literally hate everything about it so why i continued baffles me. So i vow that each day i will have less than the day before, and by this time next month i will have stopped completely. (i shall keep you updated).

Until tomorrow..Emma xo

Therapy Therapy Therapy

In the past, many approaches have been tried to shift my thinking, with very few..ok none..being successful. However, i had a phone call with a lovely woman i’m going to start seeing regularly and even after half an hour talking with her i can tell she will help alot!

The harrogate community eating disorders team consists of one specialist nurse and a dietician, so i have never actually recieved any real psychological support or form of therapy. Which frankly seems ridiculous, how on earth am i supposed to improve spending weekly half hour sessions explaining how ‘this week’ was exactly the same as the last?

Anyway, this lady focused on how i make daily decisions, which can often become overwhelming when my thoughts and ‘eating disorder’ thoughts merge into one, making a simple decision a dificult one. She told me i need to focus on how i FEEL about a decision rather than what i think about it. To take a couple of seconds out and see how i feel about a choice, if it feels right for me at that time, and whether i’d be happy with the consequences of that decision. For example this morning i went for a coffee and as i was about to order my head said i wanted a normal black coffee, (which admittedly was what i actually fancied) but after giving it a couple of seconds thought i realised if i’m spending over £2 on a coffee, and have alot of calories still to make up for in the day, what my body actually needs right now was the extra calories and calcium from dairy. So i went for a regular flat white as i felt this is what my body needed.

When faced with a choice regarding food, in recovery it can become hard separating your thoughts from that of your eating disorder. You say to yourself the lower calorie option is genuinely ‘what you fancy’, so choosing it isnt colluding with anorexia but just choosing your preference. I’ve found a good approach to figuring out my true reasonings behind choosing said ‘low calorie item’, is accepting the consequences, am i willing to eat more later to make up for the difference and ensure i get enough for the day? If the answer is yes, then clearly that salad or piece of fruit is just a genuine craving and i should go with it..if the answer is no then i know i was only picking it to avoid eating enough-this would be the anorexic thought, not my own decision. If i still struggle to decide, such as this morning with the milk situation, i dont think of what i want, but more so what i need to achieve my goal to gain weight and recover. By staying in touch with my thoughts and feelings this way, and focusing on the current situation, maintaining a healthy weight will become easier as i’ll be making decisions based on a new situation. My goals will be constantly evolving and so my choices can change accordingly as i approach this stage rather than a complete dietary overhaul as i reach my ‘goal weight’ which may seem quite overwhelming. I’ll be able to pick that salad or black coffee i fancy and know i’m not being detrimental to my goals. It may feel like you are losing control in recovery at times, but actually you are simply taking it back. You will always be in charge of what you put in your mouth, you just giving yourself the control to make healthy choices in that very moment.

Sorry if that post rambled on a bit but its a difficult concept to explain!

Until tomorrow…Emma xo

Thankyou

wow. I never actually started this blog with the intention to share it on facebook. It was a way to record my progress and frankly a lazier way of informing my family of how I was doing, as it seemed easier to send them all to one place rather than text out the same essay 30 times! hahaa But when my mum asked if she could share it with her friends from work, I didn’t realise my ‘facebook friends’ would also be able to see.

At first I was slightly mortified as I didn’t want it coming across like this was a form of attention seeking or me looking for sympathy, but the response I have got has been actually incredible. Everybody has been immensely supportive, and so unbelievably understanding I am truly truly greatful!

I now see this blog as an opportunity to raise awareness and understanding for anorexia, as well as potentially helping other sufferers. So if theres any topics people would want to see a blog post about, have questions they want to ask in private, or need some advice, just add and message me on facebook or message me on here 🙂

Thankyou all..Emma xo

rTMS

ok so i made a rookie error..
been banging on about this ‘treatment’ in london and failed to explain what it actual is haha my bad..

In simple terms, they have used rTMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) to help reducce symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders before, and somehow found it also had a positive effect on those suffering with eating disorders. There have been a few trails carried out, mainly with bulimia, so they have begun trials solely on recovering anorexics which is where i come in.

A magnetic coil is used to stimulate, or as i prefer to refer to it ‘zap’, the part of the brain they believe is ‘responsible’ for the eating disorder thoughts, the intention being you are able to form new pathways, replacing unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

so yeah..in short i just have that for an hour a week monday to friday, an mri scan before and after and do a few questionnaires along the way! A little painful but nothing too taxing 🙂

xo

Losing Emma…

 

This is going to be a difficult post put one that inevitably had to be written.

DISCLAIMER: I am not proud of anything I’m about to write, but in order to move forward I need to fully accept how I got here, I can sometimes forget how difficult things have been in the past as a defence mechanism but I think it’s important to write down everything and maybe I’ll start seeing patterns or some answers to why things turned out the way they did, and prevent any future relapses. There will be information and images which may be upsetting to some readers so if you think you could be affected, please stop here.

Up until the age of about 14, I had no troubles at all..so the idea that some drastic, traumatic event is what triggers anorexia clearly isn’t true for all. I didn’t struggle at school, I did hours of dance a week which I loved and had strong relationships with friends and family. However, as soon as I hit 15, things changed. My self-esteem took a dive and I became suddenly aware that I looked different to my peers…the polite way to put it would be to say I ‘developed early’ hahaaa I was never over a size 8-10 but at 15 years old a bra size of 30E/F rarely went unnoticed. The comments were rarely cruel and generally complimentary but it wasn’t attention I was glad to receive, and was not what I wanted to be known for. IMG_0206IMG_0425This is where the diet began..with the intention to lose half a stone at most. Within the first week the only thing I did was cut out ‘unhealthy’ snacks, replacing them with fruit..a fairly healthy and sensible move. I wasn’t expecting drastic changes but with my naturally fast metabolism and active lifestyle I dropped 5lbs in that week. I distinctly remember being astonished and some how proud..”I’ve found something I’m good at” I thought…”if I could get to ‘x’ stone this quickly, I bet I could get to ‘y’ by next month”..and the challenge was set..and so it continued. Behaviours and obsession crept in here, the need to create a calorie deficit shifted from ideal to essential, everything had to be accounted for and as the days went by 1500 became greedy..as did 1000…and if I managed 1000 then 800 wouldn’t be too difficult would it? (you can see where this is going). However I did not manage very long on this secret path as before I was even under-weight my mum had me at the GP with her concerns. Of course they weren’t interested..a common mistake made in the NHS with eating disorders is waiting until it’s gone too far. They told her to come if, or in my case, when I lost more weight.

Within 3 months my weight had plummeted to around 42kg (6st8), my heart rate around 30 bpm and I was admitted into an impatient unit for the first time. It was horrendous. I spent around 4 months at Limetrees adolescent mental health inpatient unit getting up to about 8 stone and although it saved me physically at the time, it was mental torture. I found it really difficult at that age around people with other disorders I could not understand and saw more acts of self-harm then I care to remember and in all honesty I still have nightmares about.

Over the next year or two I was admitted to limetrees again and had a couple of stays at Harrogate hospital being fed through an NG tube, less through a refusal to eat but more for physical safety as my heart rate kept dropping below 30 in the night, putting me at a high risk of heart failure. I also stayed at an adult specialist eating disorder unit in Grimsby called Rharian Fields. I had reached an all time low by the time I got here, my weight at around 35kg (BMI12.8), and although the staff were wonderfully supportive, the distance from my family crippled me. I really struggled and ended up discharging myself after 5 months. I will do a more detailed post about life in an inpatient unit another day.

IMG_0697IMG_0734

The past few months have seen me be admitted a few more times for NG feeding in Harrogate hospital, this time mainly due to my liver and kidneys not working properly and low blood sugar, again creating a risk of multiple organ failure. The main problem I experienced was that Drs never believed that by this point I was eating around 2000-2500 calories a day, but my metabolism was so high I just continued losing weight..so to avoid ‘re-feeding syndrome’ they would feed me only 300 calories a day through the NG tube and slowly increase. Of course I lost weight, hitting my lowest point of 5st5lbs and it was at this point I genuinely feared I might die. I fortunately have no photos of this time but I can assure you it was not a happy position to be in, and anyone who believes an eating disorder will bring them some form of happiness..it was in that very moment I realised how dangerously wrong that thought could be. This was over my A-level exams which unfortunately I had to take in the Harrogate hospital itself, so brings us to now, where the rTMS seems to be having great effects! I have gained over half a stone since leaving hospital but still have a long way to go to be healthy.

Onwards and upwards!

Until tomorrow…Emma xo

Monday Funday (ultimate sarcasm)

We’ll today has been memorable to say the least.
No1 realisation of the past 2 weeks is that me and trains do NOT get on. Yet again I was over an hour late to treatment thanks the my second train being cancelled, then being made to go to Doncaster to get a different connection..which was obviously too full..so had to wait for the next one..which was then conveniently delayed. Having said that I finally made it here in one piece! Only downside being I had ALOT of calories to make up for as I hadn’t had a chance to grab more food on the move so dinner was an absolute food mountain, but nevertheless I wasn’t particularly anxious about this, infact I was rather grateful because frankly I was starving!

Also, everytime I approached some stairs with my suitcase some kind gentleman offered to carry it for me so Ive been pretty lucky in that respect! hahaa

Treatment was the same as always, not as painful as last week so I think I’m getting used to it! I have felt a bit down these past couple of days though, not through wanting to restrict or anything particularly ‘eating disorder related’, but more realisation of what I’ve lost..the opportunities I’ve missed..the people I have pushed away. I’ve spent countless hours considering the ‘what-ifs’, wondering how things would have turned out with school, dance and relationships had I experienced them without anorexia, how my life would have been different? better?
But I’ve come to the conclusion this is pointless pondering as I will never know! The relationships I could have had are now ‘ships that have sailed’ so to speak and I can only concentrate on what there might be to come. The next few years need to consist of taking great opportunities rather than watching them slip through my fingers and sacrificing them to anorexia when it has already taken so much.

That’s all for today..until tomorrow..Emma xo

Goal 1 ACHIEVED

Tonight I asked my parents to cook me dinner, which is a massive step for me as no one else has cooked me a meal in a number of years, and even then I was looking over their shoulder the whole time, re-weighing ingredients and making my own estimations.

Dad chose the recipe, fish in a white cheese sauce with potatoes and veg.
Numerous ingredients in this dish would scare the hell out of my anorexia. 1.butter, 2.white flour, 3.cheese, 4.white potato, 5.milk, 6.oil
however I’m am mysteriously relaxed about the whole scenario! its a barrier I need to break and realise there’s nothing to be scared of. I am in control of my food 99% of the time so its only healthy to be able to happily pass that 1% into the hands of others, regardless to what that food may be as it creates so much more than that. It allows us to sit as a family and enjoy the same food, something we haven’t done in such a long time.

Short and sweet post today but I’m so proud. I can only hope my parents are proud too.

Until tomorrow..Emma 🙂 xo