This post felt appropriate because I’ve had so many comments recently regarding how I look and “how well I’m doing”. Yes, I’ve gained the weight. Yes, I look different. But also yes, I AM STILL STRUGGLING.
Just because I’ve doubled my body weight (mmhmm. I’ve over doubled it) and eat ice cream now, doesn’t mean my mind has healed. I still struggle a lot. I have breakdowns nearly every day over my body and still feel guilty after every meal and snack. Eating, is hard. This might seem strange to some and if you met me now you might not notice. But it is, still hard.
Sometimes I wake up and think “next week I’ll go back” and “I’ll just lose a little but then stop” and “I could be skinny if I wanted to be”. But the rational part of me knows I can never be in energy deficit again. Losing weight nearly killed me, several times. And yes, it’s true that I am exceptionally good at losing weight when I want to. But I don’t want to any more.
I’ve come too far now to throw it all away. But it is frustrating when people assume that because I’ve gained weight that I’m now cured. I don’t suffer with the physical symptoms of restriction any more but mentally I still feel pretty similar. The only difference is now I’ve learnt how to deal with it better and can battle through the thoughts.
In less than 10 weeks time I’ll be off to uni. This thought excites me immensely but also terrifies me. I know the ED voice will never fully go away and only I can block the thoughts out but the support of my family has helped me get this far. Previously, it had been going to college that made me relapse; I was by myself all day (I had 0 friends thanks to anorexia) and made it my goal to restrict and lose weight. It was easy as nobody was there to tell me to eat or stop walking or that it was a bit weird to spend my breaks between lessons in the Tesco Express looking at the chocolate.
However. I will make it my mission to live a normal life at St Andrews. I’m not looking for anything extraordinary or special, just a normal, student life. I believe in myself enough to know that I can’t and won’t relapse but the prospect of my anorexia taking over does still scare me.
I don’t think I’ve really mentioned it before but I do in fact have a “voice” in my head due to anorexia. This topic hasn’t come up a lot because I feel the subject of voices is a bit taboo in society. In films, books, on social media, voices = crazy. But it would be unfair for me not to mention the ED voice I experience as it is part of my illness. It’s just as bad as it sounds; the voice constantly tells me that I’m greedy, fat, lazy and ugly. It’s the bully that takes over my brain.
For some people with anorexia, the voice quietens when eating and doing the opposite. Unfortunately for me though, the voice screams at me when I do something it doesn’t like. It frightens me, makes me feel weak and just really gets me down. I’ve got some techniques now to deal with it but it’s still there. I’m unsure if it will ever really go away, or if I will just be able to completely block it out.
Other things the voice would tell me would be things like “you don’t deserve to have friends” and “people will hate you now you’re fat”. I now know that thoughts like these and anorexic voices are really common amongst those with the illness. I spoke to my therapist about them who calls them “Automatic Negative Thoughts” or ANTs for short. We came up with ways to combat the ANTs by coming up with PATs (Positive Appropriate Thoughts). PATs include things like “people will admire the fact I’m conquering anorexia” and “it is necessary for me to gain weight to live”. I wrote them out and showed them to Mum too so that when I’m struggling she knows how to help and what to say. I hope that by writing this the voice will know that I’m in complete control now and exposing it to people will diminish its power.
I don’t want this post to sound like I’m relapsing in any way; I’m not. I’m just having days where I am exhausted and overwhelmed by the voice and feel it appropriate to share as I know a lot of what I post is positive. I have bad days, just like everyone else. An insight into my anorexic brain would be to imagine having a bully by your side, 24/7 that literally wants you to die. Not the most charming thing to experience I admit. The anxiety and depression on the other hand…. I think they deserve a post of their own, lol.