It’s Never Worth It

This week I’ve had a bit of a harsh reminder about what life is like when you give in to your eating disorder.

I was hesitant about writing it down. I don’t want my younger sister to think that I’ve stumbled because I want her to look up to me. I don’t want my parents to worry because they’ve spent enough days in their life worrying about me. And I don’t want people to think that I’ve relapsed and shit’s got bad again; because it hasn’t. This is just a blip. However, I chose to share my thoughts so that it remains a blip. Plus, I need my voice to be louder than ed’s at the moment.

I have had many strong months of recovery and days went by where I rarely gave a seconds thought to my eating disorder. However, during the last couple of weeks, I have found myself slowly letting the voice back in.

At first, I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t doing any harm. Heck, the whole world seemed to be on some sort of January detox so what was the harm in me trying to make a few healthier choices. However, when I am really rational about it, I know deep down that I can’t diet like others can, and I don’t need too. This is still something I have to regularly remind myself of, because some days the temptation is rife.

This week I gave into the temptation. I spent last weekend with my boyfriend in London and we went out for loads of nice meals and drinks. At the time I loved it, yet this week I punished myself for it. Where’s the justice in that? I have started listening to ed again and like always, it has made me unhappy. I go to bed hungry, I never feel full, I have less energy and I waste countless hours of the day preoccupied about what I’ll eat at the next meal time or what I can try and cut out. I go to bed with a sigh of relief that I made it through three restrictive meals and go to bed either thinking of the calories I cut out that day or crying because I feel so low. It’s madness and it doesn’t make me happy.

Sometimes when I feel down, I just want my boyfriend to give me a big hug and tell me everything will be ok. But I don’t want him to know that I’m unhappy because I’m listening to this mean, punishing, shit of a voice called an eating disorder. I met him when my eating disorder was, in many ways, a thing of the past. I don’t want him to have to be a part of it today. I want to know that when he tells me I look beautiful it’s because he means it. Not just because he thinks it’s the right thing to say and will make me feel better. I want him to care about me because he loves me, not care for me because he thinks I’m ill.

Looking at the pictures on my wall from my gradation, results days, a weekend away with my boyfriend and summer ball, I’m reminded of so many happy days when I wasn’t listening to ed. This week may have been tough but I am going to try and turn things around. It has taught me, once again, that ed doesn’t make me happy. Loosing a few pounds isn’t worth it if it means being miserable for weeks. Eating cake, drinking cocktails, going out and having fun is worth every second. So bring on the weekend…

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Life is good

It feels strange to be back blogging again. Reading my last few posts, it is clear I wasn’t in a great place the last time I wrote. I am happy to say that things have changed

I’ve faced a lot of changes in the past couple of months. After having left uni I had a job lined up for six months before going traveling. They told me on the day I was to start that they could no longer offer me the job.

I don’t like it when things don’t go to plan and it really upset me. My back up plan was to do temp work to save money for traveling. I did some waitressing, leaflet dropping (that really was soul destroying after graduating from one of the uk’a top universities) and some other bits and bobs. For some people, this would have been fine but it didn’t work for me. I had no routine and the work was extremely unchallenging. I like having a challenge and I like seeing results. That’s why I work hard. However, that’s also partly how I became anorexic. Having an eating disorder and maintaining an eating disorder isn’t easy. It’s hard work. It’s a challenge. But you see results. You see the numbers go down, you see your clothes getting loose. I used to think this was an achievement. I am grateful I can now see otherwise. Because I had no challenge at work my eating disorder stepped in.

I could tell things had started getting bad again. I was tired, miserable, scared of seeing my friends for dinner, scared of eating and obsessing over exercise. I told myself it wast a big deal and that I could never let it get like it used to. However, deep down I knew something had to change.

My dad always tells me that everything happens for a reason. When I was really ill I found this hard to believe. However, I am starting to have more belief in fete.

A couple of weeks after realizing that things had to change a job offer came up. It was for a digital marketing role which is exactly the industry I want to go into. What’s more, the role was for a company that own 20 gastro pubs and restaurants. The interview process was quite tough and there were a lot of stages. But in the end, I got the job. I still can’t quite believe it.

In the interview process I talked about my passion for food and baking. In fact, I even took muffins to one of the interviews (they were the best muffins I had ever made- I took it as a sign!). Given how much I had been struggling I felt like a bit of a fraud. But f**k it. I do love food. Anorexia isn’t about disliking food, it’s more complicated than that. I am a foodie at heart, not an anorexic.

I am now two months into the job and I couldn’t be happier. I eat out three times a week minimum, I visit about 5 pubs a week (I swear my friends think I just pub crawl for a living) and I spend my day sorrounded by foodies. I no loner have the option to skip meals, I am paid to eat out. But the important thing is that I no longer want to skip melas. I thoroughly look forward to eating there times a day (sometimes more!), and I am reconnected with the foodie inside of me!

As part of my role I also have the opportunity to write blogs. My first blog for the company was recently published and it was a great success. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of this blog too but writing about my love for food, as opposed to my fear of food, was quite an achievement.

The other big change in my life is that I have a boyfriend. Yes, the unimaginable has actually happened and me, the girl who puts up steel barriers to anyone that shows her the slightest glimpse of affection, actually has a boyfriend. This is actually the first time I have admitted it. I refuse to call him my boyfriend and he refuses not to call me his girlfriend… Makes sense!? I am so terrified of the ‘b’ word! I was always the girl who never had a boyfriend and now I am very lucky to be going out with an amazing guy.

I’ve grown up on a lifetime of rom coms and always dreamed of meeting a guy like the films… Cheesy I know, but it’s the truth! People always say you find the right person when you’re not looking. I never got that- I mean when you’re single, how can you not look!? But maybe people are right. I’ve ended up dating one of my best friends from uni. He lived next door to me in halls and I met him on day one of uni. He has liked me for a long time but I always made excuses to not give it a go. However, to say he has played the long game is an understatement and now we have ended up together! Hats of to him! It was infront of my eyes the whole time, but I wasn’t ready before. However, now that I am in control of my life, have a new found confidence, and have the ability to feel emotions other than anxiety and fear, i have let someone love me. It feels great.

The last thing i want to say is that I am writing this blog on the way to Paris. For those of you that have followed my blog for a while, you will know that Paris is a bit of a crime scene. It is in Paris that my eating disorder took over my life and took me to rock bottom. I have mixed emotions with the city. On the one had it is beautiful and I had some great times there with some amazing people. On the other hand, I also had some of the darkest and hardest moments of my life there. Some streets I can’t walk down without remembering the pain I went through. Others continue to surprise me with their beauty. I am looking forward to going back this time more than ever before. This time, Ed is being left behind. I don’t need him anymore. I have real people who love me for who I am. I have found healthy ways to cope with life’s challenges. Plus, Paris is a foodies dream and I am ready to make the most of every second.

I am sorry for not blogging more often. I found that I used this space to get through the hard times and I am fortunate that recently they have been far and few between.

I hope anyone reading this can take away at least one thing: life throws challenges at the strongest of us. At the time we may not know why, but in the end, everything happens for a reason. If you’re in a place of pain right now, keep fighting. Life can be very beautiful when you’re looking through clear eyes as opposed to through the corrupt eyes of an eating disorder. Keep fighting and keep believing and wonderful things will happen.

Lots of love,
X

Dinner Date

Tonight I went out for dinner with a friend. It was my second meal out this week. There was an obvious safe choice on the menu but I was feeling fed up with the same bland thing. I decided to choose something a bit different.

The whole meal time sadly reminded me of the dark old days. I was sat with a soft drink while my friend had a Vodka & Coke. I found it hard to concentrate on anything but the menu while we were choosing (despite having looked it up beforehand), and when the food came holding a conversation was a real challenge with Ed in my ear. For someone with an eating disorder, trying to eat a challenging meal means there is a constant voice in your head analysing every bite, questioning whether you really need that extra mouthful and screaming every time you go for another piece. It was not enjoyable and I imagine my friend saw a change in my behaviour.

It made me question what all this is for? Why try and drop a number on a scale if it means not having fun with friends? Is it really worth it if you wake up and go to bed every day feeling miserable? I am sick and tired of wasting days thinking about f***ing calories and food. What am I trying to prove? No one is going to congratulate me when the numbers go down apart from my eating disorder. And even if they do it will never be low enough. I can’t understand why I still value that voice more than the voice of friends and family and medical professionals. What I am doing is wrong and yet I don’t seem to have the power to stop it.

I think I need to go back to basics. I must remember that challenges aren’t always fun, but they are necessary in order to recover. It may be scary but I need to face fears – FEAR: Face Everything And Recover. Tonight I feel like a failure because I didn’t have what Ed told me. But that is so wrong. Tonight is a victory because I didn’t have the safe option. I just need to hold onto small thoughts like that and try and find my own voice through the screaming, deafening sound of Ed.

All I am proving at the moment is that life is no fun with an eating disorder. It doesn’t make me happy, it just makes me weak and fragile. There is so much more to life than Ed and I need to start proving it.

Tomorrow,“I will feed myself and fight this illness, not feed this illness and fight myself” 

A Cry For Help

Last night, unsurprisingly, my parents sat me down to talk. They had read my blog and noticed the change in my behaviour. At first I wanted to run away and not talk about anything. But I knew deep down it was the right thing.

After talking things through and discussing what we should do next I felt a lot better. The whole talk reminded me that whilst I may be the only one who can beat my eating disorder, I can’t do it alone.

Sharing my struggles and fears with my parents reminded me of how important it is to not keep everything to yourself. My eating disorder was the one who didn’t want to talk about anything. And of course Ed would think that. By keeping things to myself I can continue down a path of denial and destruction. The truth is, speaking to other people helps and it takes some of the weight of your own shoulders.

I know deep down my last blog post was a cry for help. I don’t like admitting that because Ed is telling me I don’t need anyone’s help and I can do it alone. The problem is that I can’t recover alone. I can only make myself worse alone.

Today I am feeling slightly better.

‘Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try’

The past week has been a struggle. I haven’t wanted to write anything for a number of reasons. Firstly, it makes me feel like a failure. I hate how I can be doing so well, getting further down the journey to recovery, and still struggle with ‘blips’ (as my therapist likes to call them). Secondly, I am now at home and as soon as I hit ‘publish’, a copy of this post will be sent to my Mum and Dad. Although I am glad we can be open with one another, I also find that it can stop me writing so freely. I am scared that they are going to read this and start watching my every move.

Things have been a bit difficult since I got back from holiday. After having had such a ‘blowout’ while we were away, I was conscious to be more ‘sensible’ when I got home. However, I find it so hard to get a healthy balance. Because I started making healthier choices when I got back and cutting certain things out of my diet, it triggered further restriction. It reminded me how an eating disorder is like many other addictions. When you start using again, even if it is just a little bit, it is hard to put it down. Although it may start small, it can get out of control quicker than you think. Once you’re hooked again, it’s hard to give it up.

I am used to hearing Ed’s voice but I had also got good at turning the volume down. It doesn’t scare me that I can hear the voice of my eating disorder, I am used to that. What scares me is that I am listening to it. I am making myself believe what Ed is telling me. Even though deep down I know what I am doing is wrong, I can’t seem to stop it.

Part of me has been keeping all these thoughts to myself because I don’t want anyone to stop me. But I know that’s dangerous. I always tell myself, ‘I will never get as bad as I was’, ‘I could never go back there’. Maybe thats true. But why even go a bit of the way back? I should be marching forward, progressing and getting better. I don’t want to screw up everything I have worked so hard for.

I have shared some of these thoughts with my Mum. She has asked me why I am acting like this? Asked why I am listening to the voice and letting it takeover? The truth is, this shitty illness baffles me at times. It’s confusing and right now I’m not sure I have the answers she wants. I know I don’t want to be lying in bed hungry at night. I know I don’t want to be wasting my time counting calories and planning meals in my head. I know I don’t want to be scared of going out for a meal with friends. However, despite knowing all this, I am letting it happen. I need to be brave and keep fighting, but sometimes it feels too damn hard.

I looked back at some of my old blog posts to try and get some motivation. I never like to write anything unless there is some kind of positive message. I came across the following quote which I have blogged a few times:

“Your body is not your enemy; it is your ally. It will carry you into the future if you nourish yourself well for the journey. Your most valuable traits cannot be measured, weighed, or graphed. Your power comes from passion; feed your dreams and you will thrive”

Erica Rivera

I am at a point in my life now where I have my future ahead of me. I am currently looking for exciting new jobs and then I’ll be planning a trip around the world. I am not going to be able to achieve everything I am capable off if I keep waking up exhausted because I’m out of fuel. I need to nourish myself for the journey ahead of me.

No one in a future job interview is going to ask me for my weight or BMI. They are going to want to hear about my valuable traits, about the things that matter. They will want to know that I am hardworking, organised and ambitious. Not whether I’ve gone up or down a dress size. They will want to get to know me. If Ed is lurking around, I wont be able to reach my full potential and I wont be able to thrive.

Time to try harder.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today I turn 22- Happy Birthday me!

I feel a bit weird about my birthday this year. I think it’s because turning 20 marked the begging of everything ‘going to shit’. 21 marked the beginning of getting my life back on track. Now I’m turning 22, what will this year mark the start of?

Everyone is telling me that 22 is going to be my best year yet. I am doing well in my recovery, I am healthy, I have finished education and I am going to be travelling the world… What could possibly be better? Although I agree with people that this year could be a fantastic year for me, I get scared by the high expectations.

Today, I am a different person than I was when I turned 21. I can see and be grateful for my progress and the changes I have made in my life. However, I still don’t have total freedom from the chains of my eating disorder. There are days when Ed wins… Although these are outnumbered by my own victories. So what if things don’t go to plan? What if it isn’t the best year of my life? What if Ed is still lurking around when I turn 23? I want total freedom, I don’t just want to get ‘better’. I want to be cured from the hell of anorexia.

This year I need to work for six months to earn money for my travels. Despite having found a job starting today, the job has fallen through due to a ‘recruitment freeze’. So my first task this year is to find temporary work until Christmas. At the same time, I need to apply for a graduate job to start next year. Whilst this is quite an exciting thing to do, the jobs are hugely competitive and it can be a stressful and disappointing process at times. Amongst my two job hunts, I also need to start planning my trip around the world!

Although these are all quite exciting things to do, it freaks me out that nothing is sorted. I like control and I like to know that everything is worked out and organised. At the moment, it kind of feels like I have no control over any of it. I am making sure I am aware of this as I don’t want to start seeking control in my food to make up for it. However, although I don’t like the uncertainty and spontaneity that this year brings, I know it will be a good challenge for me. I need to learn to live with a little more disorganisation and a little less control.

So perhaps this year can be a year to take risks in the unknown. A good friend said to me recently that ‘taking risks is what life is all about… we can thrive in the unknown and surprise ourselves in how well we do so’.

I’ve had a dark year of being ill and I have had a year in recovery. I hope that this year, I can continue on my path to recovery and embrace the unknown. By taking risks I will try and discover new things, meet new people and see life through a new lens.

Happy Birthday Juniper!

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday…

Tomorrow my family and I set off on holiday. Every year we would all get so excited about our summer holiday. Mum would swear to be all packed and ready 4 days in advance and always be up until midnight the night before packing the final things! Without doubt, Dad has a moan every year about something (We now just consider it a family tradition) but he is soon told to shutup because it’s holiday time! As soon as the car was packed with cases, dvd players and extra pillows my sister and I would burst into our favorite holiday song… ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday!’. Sadly my sister grew out of this tradition by the age of 10 but I still try and get her singing every year…!

Last year wasn’t entirely the same. I was anxious and scared. My head was going crazy trying to figure out how on earth I could stick to food plans whilst I was abroad and how I would cope for two weeks without any therapy. We got through it and we had a nice time, but I am relieved that today, I am in a better place.

Most people prepare for their summer holidays with some kind of holiday diet. Everyone at uni was discussing how they were planning on getting a ‘bikini bod’, moaning about how they had to be on a beach in two weeks in a bikini, and desperately trying every single diet fad in an attempt to look good for summer. My preparation has been slightly different. I have baked a batch of cookies, cupcakes and a ginger cake. I have also spent this evening with my best friend having a Chinese takeaway and wine, followed by more cake!

I have learn’t that having a history of anorexia means that I can’t live like other people. At my current stage in recovery, I can’t expect to go on a ‘crash summer holiday diet’ without my Eating Disorder taking over. Plus, more importantly, I am learning to recognise that I don’t need to diet. So I have prepared for my holiday by pissing off my eating disorder and challenging myself in the hope that I can get on the plane tomorrow and leave Ed behind.

Also, this evening my friend gave me a congratulations on graduating card. In it she wrote, ‘Its so nice to have my best friend back to being happy, healthy and loving life’. It is words like these that give me the motivation to keep on fighting. I am not only in this fight for me, but for all my amazing friends and family too.

One more sleep until holiday time…. Bring it on!!

Back To Baking

Today was my first full day at home and I’ve spent the whole day in the kitchen!

In recent months I moaned that I didn’t have a hobby or something to be passionate about. However, the truth is, I love to bake. I have always had a sweet tooth and although my eating disorder tricked me into believing that I didn’t like cake and no one needs chocolate, I am happy that I can now see the truth. I absolutely love cake and I believe everyone needs chocolate! 

As part of my recovery I am trying to get back into baking. Today I even treated myself to a new cake stand to encourage myself to keep cooking! I guess baking used to freak me out because naturally I eat and try the mixture as I go along and then enjoy the finished product. However, I am trying to remind myself that that’s all part of the fun and it’s nothing to be scared of. I am good at baking, it is a way to be creative and it is also something I can share with others and a way to make people happy. 

Tonight I was cooking for my best friend and wanted to make us a special meal. I decided to make a huge plate of homemade sushi, followed by homemade double chocolate chip cookies served with homemade white chocolate ice-cream and strawberries. We had a lovely dinner together. It was refreshing to be able to browse recipes knowing I would be choosing one, as opposed to torturing myself with all the beautiful cakes and cookies which I knew I would never end up eating. 

Helpful Reminders

For the past couple of days I’ve been visiting my friend in London and buying new summer clothes ready for my holiday in a weeks time.

As much as I love shopping and love clothes, there were points of our shopping trip that I found really painful. For a start, I am buying bigger sizes in everything. Secondly, I tried to find a bikini and hated the sight of my body when I tried any of them on.

Although I have been finding more freedom recently, deep down, I am still struggling with my body image. A part of me wishes I could go on holiday in all of last years clothes. However, I need to keep reminding myself of the following:

– Last year I had just left a clinic. I was still pretty ill. The clothes I wore last year don’t represent a happy time, they fit the body of a poorly person. Of someone who was struggling.

– Last year I wasn’t free. I was still largely controlled by Ed. Today, I have more freedom. So whilst I may be a size bigger, I need to remember that I am a hell of a lot happier.

– A size is just a number. I am worth more than a dress size. The size of my clothes is not a reflection of my worth.

– Size isn’t the only thing that people find attractive. The most attractive thing in a person is their personality. Last year, my personality was largely controlled by Ed. An eating disorder steals your personality until you are a prisoner in your own body. Today, I have my personality back. The attention I’ve got from guys has been a hec of a lot higher recently than it ever was when I was in the depths of my eating disorder!! Clearly, what makes someone attractive is when they can be themselves.

– Even when my body image sucks I need to just let it be. I can’t fight back and try and shoot the numbers back down. I need to acclimatise and get used to my body the way it is.

Writing all these things down is helping me gain some clarity and find my own voice instead of listening to Ed. I just want to be able to go on holiday, look in a mirror, and think ‘you look hot!’ I don’t want to look in the mirror and be sad.

I am fully equipped with some new clothes, all of which are a healthy size, and all of which are going to look great (at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself!)

I hope you’ve all had a good week! X

“There are no regrets in life, just lessons”

Given that this week is my last week in Bath, my friends and I have been making the most out of the city. Today, despite the pouring rain, we all set off on a tourist day out. We visited the Roman Baths and then went for a delicious lunch and cake in a new café we had heard about. We then visited two art museums, looked around the town market and then went for a famous afternoon tea. On our travels we also picked up fudge and speciality chocolates for an evening of TV and delicious snacks!

I am pleased to say that I enjoyed the day. Every time I have days like today I remind myself that it wouldn’t have been possible last year. Despite living in Paris last year, there are countless museums I never visited and numerous cafés I didn’t eat in. When I re-visited Paris earlier this year I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of regret for all the things I missed out on. However, I can learn from the past and I am determined to not let that happen again. I never want to look back and think, ‘I could have eaten that’ or ‘I could have done that’.

I was unsurprised that my eating disorder was loud at some points during the day. However, as opposed to letting that stop me from participating, I persevered and succeeded in enjoying myself. My therapist has recommended that instead of expecting to shut ED’s voice out completely and not experience any negative thoughts, I should instead just try and turn the volume down. So if I am ever faced with food challenges, I imagine a volume dial in my head. Then, I try my best to turn the volume down and carry on. I guess it is a bit like when you’re on a train and there is an irritating person speaking loudly on the phone or someones music is playing way too loudly. At first it is loud and annoying, but if you persevere, you can eventually ignore it and carry on with your own thoughts. Eventually, you don’t even notice it.

So for today, I am grateful that I had a day of no regrets with some of my best friends!