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. This 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.
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