Living with anorexia

An Overshadowed Achievement

On Saturday I did something I haven’t done for a long time.

I sat at the table, with my family, for lunch.

I ate something I haven’t eaten for a long time.

The old favourite: baked beans on toast.

I should be celebrating it as a huge success.  I sat at the table for a meal.  I ate with my parents and my sister.  I ate something ‘new’.

But I don’t feel like celebrating.  Saturday lunchtime was a single high point in a weekend where mentally and physically, I felt worse than I have for a long time.

*****

It started on Friday.  Determined to eat an evening meal different from my usual safe food, I spent much of the day scrolling endlessly through the websites of three different supermarkets, trying to find something I could manage.  Hour after hour, comparing the calorie content of different options.  Endless, back and forth, this or that?  More calories?  Less fat?  What if I don’t like it?  I want all of it!  I don’t want any of it!  I felt mentally exhausted by the amount of choice I was giving myself.  Eventually I disregarded them all and made my usual evening meal.

The stress of the day didn’t end there.  Each evening, before bed, I eat a yoghurt.  This is a habit I developed before Christmas, when my nights were violently invaded by panic attacks, anxiety, and an unshakeable belief that I would die in the night.  Eating a yoghurt before bed somehow alleviated the worst of these feelings, and although I now sleep much better thanks to medication, I have managed to continue eating a yoghurt each night.  The yoghurt didn’t cause me any stress.  But at my mum’s suggestion I decided to have a tiny piece of chocolate with it.  The effect was instantaneous.  I swallowed the chocolate, and felt absolutely terrible.  Stress, anxiety, panic… it all rose up inside me.  Why the hell was I eating chocolate?  Anger, frustration, depression… there was nothing I could do.  I went to bed, distressed, upset, consumed with self-hatred.

And so that was how my weekend started.  I won’t bore you with all the details of the next few days, suffice to say things did not really improve.  By Sunday morning I felt mentally and physically exhausted.  I felt so weak, I barely had the energy to move off my bed.

I managed to make my way into the kitchen, where I stood, desparately trying to convince myself to eat a banana.  I knew I needed something.  My chest hurt, I felt faint, dizzy… But I could not bring myself to eat anything.  I wanted to cry with frustration.  How could I have sunk so far into this illness that I cannot even bring myself to eat a piece of fruit when I feel this weak?

Today, I feel much better.  The depression and anxiety that plagued me all weekend has subsided, the chest pain has ceased and I feel a little stronger.  The thing is, I know that I am not better.  Despite the best efforts of my family and therapy team, I have continued to lose weight and it is now the lowest it has ever been.  I know I am not well.  I wonder what will happen to me.  Being admitted to a residential unit is seeming like a more and more likely outcome.  I don’t want it to come to that.  But maybe it would be best.  I don’t know. I just don’t know.

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10 thoughts on “An Overshadowed Achievement

  1. So strong to get through that. So much respect! I learn more every time I read your blog. Although one day I hope I learn without you having to suffer first. Get well and I’m here if you need me.

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      1. You are more than welcome. And I hope so too, once the flu is gone I will be great. haha can’t wait to hear about surmeshed. Extra points for no laughing.

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  2. You challenge yourself immensely, but perhaps it’s also even more challenging to not have that help that extra bit of intricate help. I don’t know, CR. I just know that, whatever helps you gain healthy weight, you’re strong enough for.

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  3. The desire to lose weight is stronger even then the threat of treatment. When my admission was delayed by 2 weeks, all I could think about was losing more weight, even though they said that if I did, they’d deny me and make me go to residential. Fortunately they still took me, for that I’m glad, but there is always the though that I never lost enough, that I was not small enough…. but in truth I’d never be small enough and if I managed it, I would die. I feel your pain.

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