I’m hyper aware the recovery I’ve made thus far is only a partial one. My physical ailments have eased up, my weight has been somewhat restored, and I’m no longer permanently cold and tired.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it so many times again. My Anorexia still weighs heavily on my mind. This recovery process, for me, is still very much part of the illness. There are constant setbacks, constant worry, never-ending self-abuse, harm and doubt. It’s an endless circle of vicious, dangerous thoughts.
I write this as I close on a particularly difficult day for me. It’s sunny outside, the sun is high and hot in the sky and bodies are on show and skin is on display. I’m in possession of a ‘new’ body and so in need of newer, better fitting, summer clothes. Whilst all my tops and dresses still fit me, I feel uncomfortable in my old shorts and jeans. I replaced my jeans a while ago, however the shorts I haven’t managed to.
Stupidly enough, I choose a hot, sticky and sweaty day to buy and try new shorts. I bought two pairs in the sale section of H&M, just before I got to work. Long story short, the shorts were actually smaller than the jeans that I was wearing however their size bigger. Naturally, my anorexic mind took straight over. I was fat. My thighs must have BALLOONED. I must have become a whale. That is seriously what I think everyday. My clothes don’t hang off me anymore – they fit, so I must be huge. As soon as I got to work, I sat down and didn’t move for 20 minutes. Normally I would sit down, have my morning bagel, yogurt and fruit and then go down to work. But not today. I was overcome with a sickness, I could feel it in my stomach. I felt disgusting. I felt huge. My mind and feelings make me think and feel that I’m about 70 stone and a half, as opposed to what I actually weigh.
I am not used to this body, I am not used to a not underweight figure. I’m not used to clothes fitting or not being freezing in the sweltering heat. Previously on days like today, I would have still felt that chill from within. Today was the first day I’ve noticed I haven’t felt just so cold in a while, but instead of that being a good thing and a sign of my partial recovery, it reminded me that I was fat.
I really never wanted to be ‘one of those’ women who thinks they’re fat when they’re still wearing small sized clothing, or when they aren’t even fat at all. Unfortunately, I am. Even when I was properly underweight, when the scale number got less and less I still felt like I weighed more and more. What’s more challenging in a partial recovery is knowing that I am only managing my Anorexia and not recovered from it, it’s harder to explain to people why I don’t look so ill/so bony/like I’m about to collapse. It’s a challenge I do like to accept, however. I feel by doing so it is raising in a better understanding and awareness that Eating Disorders affect any size, and its simply only when it’s gone too far that the physical symptoms start to appear.
I joined the gym a couple of weeks ago, and whilst my going has been sporadic at times I’ve managed a few classes with a bit of routine. Immediately it showed up in my blood tests; I’d been over exercising. To the naked eye there’s no tell-tale sign for this, again another proof that Eating Disorders are invisible. Every day is a challenge, and every day is a struggle. Today I struggled.
After I sought to not eat my morning bagel and snacks, I decided that was it. It was back to my Anorexic ways. Id deleted food from my food diary that I’d planned today, and I increased my already high level of exercise. I let both my mother and then-boyfriend know. In my mind it was a decision that needed to be made. At the time I felt neither really understood or helped the situation. They didn’t make me feel better or worse, I was rekindling back with the extreme restriction and starvation of Anorexia. But as time went on, my decision began to bring me anxiety and unfortunately, I could feel my concentration at work falter and I’m really trying my hardest at work at the moment, so I felt disappointed in myself. I felt less than myself. I knew what I had to do and who I had to speak to. There’s been several setbacks before this one where I haven’t spoken to who I needed to and just continued to lower my calories in preparation for an extreme restriction, but this time, I called them. I rang Julia, my psychologist and asked to be called back after work.
As I walked home, I tried to put my mind into a rational sense; I’ve not even gained a stone, the weight I’ve restored is necessary, my hair is stronger, my body is warmer, my bum no longer is flat, the shorts I bought today were SMALLER than the jeans I was wearing today which were a size smaller than the shorts anyway. I tried to fight back. And so, I did. Fast forward to after speaking to Julia, I managed to turn my thoughts around and eat what I’d planned previously for the day. Being proactive in recovery is important and it isn’t something that I usually participate too much in, but I won’t get anywhere if I keep allowing setbacks and irrational thoughts to sink in.
When I got home, I put on a playsuit that my mum bought me last year. It still fit. It fit pretty much the same as it did the last time I wore it. I even did a ‘comparison’ photo, of then and now. And the difference was actually minimal. Even though the picture shows me little difference, I still doubt that what it shows me is true. This is the reality of anorexia. It won’t ever let me feel thin or skinny, it won’t ever be happy with the number on the scales. The only number it would be happy with is the number DEATH. The only way to live is to try fight it and continue to try and have days like today where I challenge myself and Anorexia. Its bloody awful, and excruciatingly difficult. Maybe one day I’ll be fully recovered, but for now I guess I’m learning to live my life with a partial recovery and accept my feelings and emotions and challenge the negativity.
I end the day having spent some time in the sun, something which I truly love, doing a 30 minutes beginners yoga class and eating that bagel I missed earlier with a slathering of chocolate peanut butter. My struggles are still here, and I still restrict and control every day, but I’m hoping the future is bright and the future is coming.