Not just model behaviour!
It’s been a while since I have dedicated a blog post to Anorexia, I have tried to stay away from writing about my disease and with all the negativity it often brings. Anorexia loves a voice, so I have starved it of the limelight.
However, I am still living with Anorexia and it is still part of my/our lives.
I have recently noticed how much Anorexia and eating disorders have been in the media and this is GREAT news for raising awareness of the disease. However, I have an issue with exactly where the coverage is coming from!?
So many people still associate eating disorders with models desperate to be thin or teenage girls trying to look ‘pretty’ so when I see the press and media giving coverage of eating disorders to the next famous model who is in recovery, it makes me angry!
Normal girls get eating disorders, girls who are not on a catwalk, girls who feel the same pressures to look good, girls who have careers!
Do you not think it’s time a ‘normal’ girl was covered in the media, given her air time to explain how it has affected her career, her family, and her ‘normal’ everyday life??
BUT that would be boring news I guess – who wants to know about a ‘normal’ person going through something tough? A famous model naturally makes for interesting and controversial news.
Eating Disorders – What does a trigger mean?
In the world of eating disorders or any addiction actually, there are times when we are ‘triggered’ by something we see or hear and it can set me off on a slippery slope of negative thoughts. You will hear the term ‘trigger’ used a lot.
At first, triggers can be overwhelming, but as time goes on, you know where you will see triggers and either choose to stay away from them or deal with the emotions that arise.
There are days when Anorexia feels easier, I will eat a little extra something or not ‘worry’ about what I will have for my next meal and there are the days when it takes one thing to ‘trigger’ Anorexia and I feel her grip take hold of me!
What does a trigger look like for me or someone with an eating disorder?
Warning – This may be triggering for some people!
As part of my addiction and eating disorder, I HAVE to exercise for at least 1 – 2 hours a day to justify any amount of food I may consume, this is my daily life and no matter how ‘good’ a day I maybe having exercise will ALWAYS be a part of it.
I can literally count the number of days on my hands that I have NOT exercised in the last two years or so – I am not bragging, this is actually written with a certain amount of shame.
There are times I am so tired that I cannot face it, but then I will feel the pull of the trigger!
I may have simply read a post on Facebook or see someone running and there is my ‘trigger’.
Your harmless post on FaceBook about the run you have just completed throws me into personal turmoil and even more determined to exercise. Not your problem, I know!
The trigger of body dysmorphia.
I have no doubt at some point everyone wakes up in the morning and feels ‘fat’ or hates the way their hair or bum looks! For me, this is magnified by 1000. I wake every day and HATE what I see, I see a short FAT girl looking back at me and only on fleeting occasions do I get a real glimpse at the boney legs and veined arms staring back at me.
The real image never lasts…I could easily be triggered about my body by simply seeing a girl with Anorexia who looks thinner than me – oh so sad but true!
I recently asked my partner if this was normal. Does everyone worry about their body or image of some kind every day?!
He calmly assured me people do have similar thoughts, but as I have a specific eating disorder, my thoughts and habits are a bit more extreme than other peoples! Fair Point!
If you do have the constant need to check yourself in the mirror (over and above actually just being vain or checking for a booger!), maybe it is time to seek some help and reassurance. Nip body dysmorphia in the BUD before it is left to open up like an innocent but deadly flower.
GOOD FOOD or BAD FOOD?!
Labeling food good and bad instantly fills our minds and subconscious with doubt, guilt, joy, happiness and confusion!
The traffic light labels introduced onto food packets fills me with dread and is a personal trigger. I cannot believe that we are all so uneducated about food that we need food producers to remind us just how much fat, sugar, salt, and calories is in everything we buy.
It seems like we all need meal plans creating for us, we need a woman once a week at weight watchers (or ‘fat club’ as it is often annoyingly to referred to) to remind us not to eat four bars of chocolate and eight bags of crisps a day. If we do, we are bad people, failures, and FAT.
Since when was it acceptable to give the word ‘sins’ to the bad food we are allowed in our diets. The years I heard friends and family referring to their ‘sins’ throughout the day – no wonder we grow up to have issues with food.
I realise we need transparency to see what food producers are actually putting into our food, but let’s all have a bit of common sense.
A basic rule of thumb! If food is not freshly bought or a delicious bolognese sauce is freshly made at home, the food you buy in a jar, microwave packet or that simple takeaway sandwich, will, I assure you be full of cr*p.
I believe the simple trigger of labeling food ‘Good and Bad’ sets a very bad example for children, you will be pleased to know I have nothing more to say on this subject – you will have no doubt fallen asleep at my rant.
Just be aware that the next time you label a food good or bad, you are already setting yourself and ‘others’ up for a fall.
A positive trigger – The voice of reason
I have the most tolerant and understanding partner and on occasion, he will show me stories about models or girls who have made it through their eating disorder and are recovering.
He is showing me there is light at the end of the tunnel and believe me sometimes I need to believe this is just a ‘phase’. Having a positive trigger in my life helps combat the negative, when I read about how someone has recovered or that they are feeling the same way as I have been feeling its very comforting and a lot easier to compute.
Not model behaviour – Self Harm?!
WARNING – This is not easy reading
Eating disorders are a form of self-harm, and upon learning more about them I know that some people going into or through recovery look for another ‘outlet’ when they start to feel like they are losing control of their secret friend.
This has recently hit me. I have no idea where it came from, but the overwhelming urge to harm myself keeps popping into my thoughts.
OK, I know this is a taboo subject for some and this admission will no doubt upset some people or make them feel uncomfortable and if you choose to stop reading I totally understand, BUT my blog has always been a TRUE account of how I am feeling and what living with an eating disorder is really like.
How can I explain this? For example last week I woke up, did my daily hour of yoga and strength training and then meditated. I chose to have a bite of breakfast, nothing much but being as I do not usually have breakfast it was what felt like a lot for me.
I left for my volunteer job ready for the day, although I also had a dark nagging feeling of ‘food guilt’ for eating breakfast.
I cycled to work and arrived in a slightly ‘off’ frame of mind. The day was fine, I was quieter than usual and maybe less tolerant with people but ambled my way through, all with the voice of Anorexia kicking my ass.
The people at work would have had no idea of what was going on inside and that can often make it hard, you feel isolated and when you snap at someone, you instantly want to tell them why and what you are going through.
I got home and felt a little shaky and weak. I snacked on some lunch and a couple of squares of dark chocolate. BAD IDEA. I was then slumped into a deep, dark place for the next 3 hours. Food guilt had hit….
My partner tried his hardest to pull me out. I was not angry or tearful and what scared me is that I actually did not feel anything, I felt numb. I was shouting inside but no one could hear me.
For the first time in a long time all I could think of was how much easier it would be for me not to be here, Anorexia is just too hard to deal with.
I am sad to say that suicide is one of biggest issues for people dealing with Anorexia. I am not saying this to scare anyone, it’s the truth and a very REAL part of recovering or not.
Now I know there are people in much worse situations than me and my Buddhist beliefs certainly teach me to focus on other people’s suffering and not my own, but sometimes this just adds to the guilt I feel about myself.
I really needed to bring myself back around from this dark place. Self-harm played on my mind for a couple of hours and I really scared myself at the thoughts that I had throughout that time!
I could not control what I had just eaten,
but could I control the pain in another way?
I really forced myself out of my thought pattern and chose to be embraced. I sat in my partner’s arms for 45 minutes, he snoozed and I just sat and cuddled into him and listened to his heartbeat, I listened to the wind rustling in the palm trees outside and just lived in the moment. I remembered I was loved and that I was safe, it would be OK.
Part of recovery will mean dealing with the pain it leaves behind. Eating again is the easy part, it’s living with the guilt and shame it leaves behind.
As I sit here this evening writing this, I have had dinner and some dark chocolate and YES I am feeling guilty and horrible but I also know today I have won.
Tomorrow it will start all over again!
RAISE AWARENESS IN A POSITIVE WAY!
March 3rd also celebrates Sock it to Eating disorders campaign, so it’s a good chance for me to highlight this important day.
Take a look to see how you could get involved.
I will be grabbing my CRAZY SOCKS to wear throughout the day!
No shame in asking for help.
If you are struggling in any way at all with negative thoughts and need someone to talk too, I can recommend the following people from personal experience. Seek help and talk as you are not alone.