TW: This post discusses my struggle with and recovery from Anorexia. I don’t intend for it to cause any distress to people in a similar situation but please read on with care.
So Dietician and CEDS Nurse – I owe them more than I can say. I know that, ultimately, we are in charge of our own recoveries and only we can: get out of bed, leave the house, wash, dress and eat but it helps enormously to have the support of experienced and caring professionals. They came to visit me at home because, in the finish up, I was too ill to leave the house. They listened to my concerns around my, by then, terror of eating and gave me a manageable meal plan, adding calories only when I felt ready. They made it easier on me by giving me high calorie drinks so that a lot of my intake was in liquid form and easier to swallow. The dietician phoned me in the mornings to see how I was feeling. In short, they cared about me and they believed I had more to offer – they wanted me to get better.
I’m not going to play it down, I had to make a supreme effort in the beginning. I have memories of being unable to hold a knife and fork because my hands shook so much. At 29, my parents spoon fed me while I sobbed. But I had made up my mind and I was going to redefine my idea of control, turn it on its head and make a change. Gradually, and with lots of help, I was more able to manage meals and snacks. As I increased my calorie intake and my energy levels improved, I became more and more able to think clearly and cooperate with others.
That was about a year ago and to say I am ‘cured’ would be a stretch, but I am in the driving seat. I like to be able to weigh certain foods to keep track of calories and saturated fat, I always put 35 raisins in my cereal, I avoid certain foods, I hate looking in the mirror and prefer to wear loose clothing to hide the shape of my body. But I am told I am a healthy weight (I choose not to know my weight), I eat three meals and three snacks a day and concede that this makes it so much easier to think. I keep my activity levels reasonable and have managed to state preferences when it comes to choosing what to eat and when, i.e. I have an interest in what I am eating.
I have had a small relapse this year. In fact I was discharged from and then re-referred to the CEDS, who have been helping me sort out some Bulimic-like behaviours that I had got caught up in. Apparently its common for people recovering from an Eating Disorder to lapse. Any kind of therapy on offer usually only describes how to challenge Eating Disordered thoughts – it won’t remove those thoughts – and it can be tricky not let bad habits creep back in.
If anyone reading this is struggling with an ED, my message is this: I know it’s a living Hell and that you could scream, shout or break something most of the time, but you need to take control. Don’t let it beat you down, but challenge it. Fuelling the body, fuels the brain and makes you more able to think. Most of all, want to get better – grit your teeth, dig in your heels and take it on…I believe in you.