As I stepped across the threshold of the eating disorder clinic entrance, fear ran through me like waking from a nightmare. However, there was no waking up from this nightmare, this sh&t just got real.
The day was a taster day to see how I would get on as a day patient, a day to see what was expected of me and a day for me to realise just how I was going to start this journey.
The taster day included being in the clinic from 9 am – 5 pm and within that time I was expected to take part in snack time and lunchtime. I had to choose what I wanted from the set menu for that day.
Let’s just say the menu did not include anything I was going to eat. Full stop. This did not go well, already I had put up barriers. With milk and sandwiches on the menu and no room for negotiations, the food was set. Like it or well LEAVE.
The clinic is a large hospital ward with doors leading to ‘treatment’ rooms, another room houses two large tables where we are encouraged to sit, relax or do crafts or puzzles. There was a small TV area and another quiet room packed full of puzzles and books.
The most excited I felt was about the books!!
It’s a locked ward, you cannot just come and go as you please. The atmosphere at first was awkward for me, as a day patient I come and go each day but for some girls, it is their home and everyday reality. I felt like I had entered a sacred area where people were healing and taking the time to think. I never had time to think, I was too busy thinking.
The only thing you can DO is rest. Thankfully I was allowed my laptop so I could escape and gorge on catch up TV. I sat down immediately plugged in my headphones and tried my hardest to disappear. I have never felt so alone or scared.
The TV in the room was blaring out Jeremy Kyle, followed by This Morning. Two programmes I have never (and never want to) watch.
I immediately felt like I did not belong, I sat there in my smart suit jacket and long jumper dress and felt like an outsider. The first thing I wanted to do (apart from CRY) was write in my pocket diary, so I did and the words that blurted out were not good!
Snack time arrived and I was presented with a pint of milk. For five years I have not touched dairy or bread of any kind and here I was suddenly faced with 200ml of the white stuff.
I refused to drink it and was taken into the ‘book’ room with my assigned carer to see if that would help. I could also not be seen to be disrupting the other girls.
Any mealtime is a pretty big deal with strict eating routines set, all to ensure we eat.
After all, that is what we are there for – to eat!
Falling at the first hurdle I already felt like I was still not deserving of being there.
After many tests, pokes, prods and various questions, I left the clinic in what I would call shock. The day was over, I had made it but not without upset – far from it.
I went home to my mums and cried. I had failed and there was no way I could go back.
Unfortunately, the weekend did not go so well and on Saturday evening I found myself in A&E.
The entire day I could not shake off a chill, I felt so tired that I could have slept standing up, my skin had a yellow tinge to it and my mum got worried.
For the next five hours and more tests I was diagnosed with a very slow heartbeat, my heart was weakened and slowing down. Various issues were flagged up in my blood test results but after pleading and assuring them I would not be on my own I was actually allowed to go home.
A low heart rate is a symptom of being severely underweight and unfortunately, I had proceeded to lose more weight over the last couple of weeks and now my body was really starting to show and feel the effects.
As I led there in the hospital, it all felt so silly, how had I got myself into this position? How did it get this bad? How could I be putting myself and my family through this?
I am sharing this picture as I want to feel ashamed, I want to feel shamed into getting better. I am not looking for sympathy.
I led there on the hospital bed, cold, scared and humiliated I vowed to my mum tomorrow I would eat.
As I await my next appointment at the clinic and go for further tests, contemplation grips my everyday thoughts.
Did I wake up and eat the next day, well I tried but the night before was soon drowned out by the familiar noises and echoes of my eating disorder. Every meal I promise to try harder, every waking hour I tell myself I can do this and every check in the mirror I tell myself how disgusting I look. All in the hope it will turn on the switch to filling my hunger.
Rest is the order for the day, rest what is rest?
I have vowed to spend time cocooned in the familiar grip of my family, I am being supported and encouraged beyond belief and that alone gives me the faith I can do this.
Until next time…..I am resting and waiting to see what the next week brings…