“I wish I could rewind and find out where it all went so wrong.”
Spending all this time in bed is making me quite contemplative so I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at how things were with my mental health several years ago. The following excerpts are taken from my diary in 2008, when I was eighteen.
“I had an analytical trip last night and decided to have a glass of wine to calm myself down. It worked for an entire 5 minutes before I got super depressed and started babbling to people on msn and on the phone. I must have sounded like a maniac. Maybe I am a maniac. This is the closest I have ever felt to suicidal.”
“Today I feel like I should staple my mouth shut and sit inside a large box for several days. I should hang a sign on the outside of the box saying ‘Danger: Do not feed the human’.”
“I knew that I’d need to purge afterwards so I drank two pints of water amongst the shovelling. Then I ran up those stairs as fast as my little legs could carry me and I got on my knees and put my fingers down my throat. I couldn’t breathe. It’s like food is poison. I got half of it up, most of the beans and a bit of potato. And then I just stood in the shower for five minutes and hoped that I could wash away the pain and fury. I couldn’t, so I cried all night.”
“This is not a life; it is an existence. What else is there anymore? I have screwed everything else up superbly. Yesterday I could have curled up in a ball and stopped breathing for all I cared … Help, I am lost.”
“My head goes like this most hours of most days:
How many calories are you going to eat today? Don’t slip up… You have to lose 5 pounds over the next 4 days and you’ll still have loads of work to do after that. Maybe you shouldn’t have that last yoghurt, it’s pretty greedy. You’re not even good enough for Ana… You’re too fat and you need to work harder. So you’ve eaten 561 calories today. Must swim for 30 minutes to burn 217 calories… Must walk for 50 minutes in order to burn another 140. Eurg. You still have 204 remaining in your body… You’ll have to make up for that tomorrow…Swim loads… Eat less… Fast next week. How are you going to get through the days? How are you going to avoid food? What if you are tempted to binge? It will happen eventually… You can’t afford to slip up… You’ll have to control yourself and burn any unwanted calories with fasting and exercise… Failure is not an option.”
“People make me angry. I make me angry. The world makes me angry. I’m just really, really angry and very, very sad.”
“Today in philosophy I felt so miserable. I have lost interest in everything which used to bring me joy. I don’t care for love, for friends or relationships, for what people think of me, for my future education and a-level results, my health, socialising, drinking, food… I even drifted off in philosophy, the one lesson which I usually totally engage in. My passion seems to have been misplaced. Even music isn’t touching me at the moment. I’m like a robot. I started dwelling on negative things and got it into my head that, eventually, I will push away even those people I have left that care about me.”
“I’m a disappointment in every other area of my life. My health sucks. The future is bleak. I have lost control in most aspects of my reality. One thing I can have control over is this (starving myself).
I’m sick of being a disappointment
I’m sick of never being thin enough
I’m sick of forcing myself to eat
I’m sick of pretending I’m ok with myself
I’m sick of forcing myself out of bed when I’ve had no sleep
I’m sick of feeling like a crap sack
I’m sick of trying to explain myself
I’m sick of anxiety
People let you down. People judge you. People tell you empty promises. People hurt you. Hunger… It’s… Peaceful. Weight loss is oxygen.”
“Sometimes I think I don’t have a friend in the world, sometimes I think that I’m going to end up a failure and that people will weep for the loss of my life before I see 20.”
“My father started going on at me to stop burning the candle at both ends, “You’re a mess!” he said. We got into an argument about it, resulting in him saying “and do boozing and smoking help you with your health?” and I replied “of course it doesn’t. But I don’t feel much better when I sit around and acknowledge my being a mess. At least drinking and smoking make it go away for a while.” And then he said something like “you’re not going to get anywhere if you carry on the way you are” and I said “well I don’t get anywhere when I stop. So I might as well just kill myself.”
Looking back at the things I wrote back then, I grieve for the girl I was all those years ago; I want to give her a hug and tell her things will work out. As you can deduce from reading those words, I never thought it would work out for me and I feel so sad that the old me had to endure all of that suffering. But perhaps that very suffering made me the person I am today. I have strength and compassion and drive. I appreciate the small things in life and I try to see the good even in the worst situations. Maybe I wouldn’t have those qualities if I hadn’t been to my own personal hell and back.
As for my eating disorder: The voice still remains but- from dealing with it for twelve years now- I have the tools to fight it. I’m not sure it will ever go away but the voice is getting quieter.
I have to admit that she (Ana, as I call the voice) has come to life a little more over the past few weeks. I have practically lost my appetite through this illness and I have slowly felt the joy of that come creeping back in. I’m also losing weight even when I do eat and so I’ve started obsessing about how loose my clothes are and how many calories I’m consuming. But the encouraging thing is that my health is more important to me at the moment; I want to get better and starving myself is only going to make things worse, so I eat what I can.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that- to anyone out there who knows the pain of living with an eating disorder- things will eventually calm down, I can’t promise you miracles but I am promise you that.
(At the top of this post I have put up some photographs of my dog, Ellie; my one true rock through all of the rubbish life has thrown in my path).