Monday, 28 December 2009

On The Rack

Tortured by his enemies, a film I once watched showed a man tied between two posts which were then gradually pulled apart, thus ripping his whole body in half.

Nice start huh?

Thought I'd jump in headfirst before I got cold and ran out on the balls of my feet.

Medieval England practised "Stretching" as a form of torture on a hideous frame known as 'the rack'. It was often used to punish or to extract information from a victim.

I'm not great at history, but even the narcoleptic kid wakes up for the part of the lesson where the teacher tells about torture methods.

It's that morbid fascination thing.

Not to sound too melodramatic, but the image of someone being pulled apart has floated around my head over the past couple of days.

I feel as though parts of me are engaged in a game of "tug of war", and while that conjures up images of happily exhausted, muddy heaps of people who have engaged in the battle of the rope, for me, it feels as though my two teams, who are unfortunately, both inside me, are actually going to rip me in half.

It's a tug of war with a hell of a lot at stake and another part of me watches with some degree of horror as the stubborn struggle between me and me reaches a ridiculous intensity.

On one end of the rope, Desperation pulls me towards the gym to work my body into a frenzied, sweating, mechanical state where I no longer feel anything except a physical exhaustion and a terrible desperation to deplete my body in a any which way.

On the other end, Depression pushes me down, won't let me move, pulls my energy away from me so I have to step further back to retrieve it.

And as they pull, I am torn.

Desperation to lose weight is screaming in my ears.
"You must be in control".
"You only have this".
"If you allow yourself an inch, you'll be sure to take miles and miles and it'll be unstoppable".

Depression whispers,
"Don't bother".
"What's the point?"
"Nothing matters".

Yet another part, cries at the pain of being torn so violently. It feels as though I am on a rack.

I end up in the gym but the inside is weary and tired from the fight.

It would seem that I am able to cope when depression is not begging me to stop and when I am winning what I know is an unhealthy battle against my weight. Which is absurd!

This is not how it's meant to go, surely?

I suppose that when you are on a rack, if the force is only pulling you in one direction, it ceases to be torture.

The lesser of the two evils (in terms of short term outcomes) is the force which drives me to starve and exercise.

It's when that force is opposed by the dreadful weight of depression that it becomes so painful.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas - The Best and The Worst

is the word that springs to mind.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I'm not a huge Dickens fan but this is one of my favourites.

Christmas can be a time of magic where, without even realising it, a mysterious sense of wonder can seep into even the heaviest heart, piping the edges of dead dreams and hopes with fine,spider-spun, incandescent threads.
Childlike innocence, a longing for something greater than 'us', the sudden warmth in a stranger touched by 'Christmas spirit', the unfamiliar sense of community... Christmas holds people, just for a brief, flickering moment, in a warm palm of purity, goodness and equality.
Gone are the British class boundaries and the pretensions and graces.
Just for a moment, we are bought together by an affinity that may only be described as supernatural.

All this said, Christmas can be the very worst of times.
Nothing blows colder than the wind of grief, loss and loneliness experienced by those who suffer at this time of year.
Many of us have been there. Standing outside the beautifully adorned windows of houses which glow golden Christmas light and sparkle with velvet laughter and heavy blanket heat.
Nothing like being on the other side of the pane, with the cold ache of despair that cannot be touched by the warmth you are surrounded by.

The cold isolation is felt all the more as you gaze at the dancing flames you cannot feel.

Christmas is a mix for most.
A time when the temperature is rarely consistent.

For those who can stay warm, I wish you a wonderful, peaceful, hopeful Christmas.

For those who have a little more trouble with the thermostat... or those who are cannot even make it past a front door, I pray that you would find the strength to hold on, hold out for the next day when it may not feel much warmer, but at least the "lack of" will not be so acutely emphasised.
I pray that you can hang in there for the aftermath when Christmas has passed and the pain is not highlighted so acutely.

I don't mean for this to be a depressing post.

I just want to acknowledge the two sides to this season and to reach out to those who are feeling despair.
You are not alone.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Circling at One Thousand Feet

It's ironic that as I sit down once again, to tackle the subject of eating disorders, and in particular, anorexia, I have an image of me circling my subject like a very hungry animal circles a potential feed; warily and full of tentative, watchful suspicion that what is being circled might suddenly retaliate with a defensive blow from a place which went unnoticed.

This topic. I'm afraid it has the potential to do that.

I have written a fair bit about
my sister. In fact, there are a few posts here about her and although it is not easy to write about, it's more because of my sense of hopelessness around making others understand than any deep pain at the memories of the experiences.
In fact, if anything, I have very few memories and the ones I do have are almost totally devoid of any feeling.
Giant pools of nothingness swill and wash around my insides much of the time. I feel that underneath everything... under all the angst and the pain and the upset, there is nothing.
Just an empty, black void.

Hopping out of that void for a minute, it's fair to say I have been circling my own feed for a while now.
I've burnt a lot of calories with my circling.

I don't expect understanding.
In fact, if anything, I expect to be met with the same level of horror and disgust that I feel about myself.

Having such an intimate knowledge of what it is to have to stand by and watch a loved one scream and twist in an unreachable cage, shredding themselves against the razor bars, you'd think that:

  1. I would have more common sense and

  2. I would never be as selfish as to inflict it on those who are already so broken.

But no.
It seems that I lack the ability to apply the logic I am such close friends with and that I am clearly so completely wrapped up in myself, that I care very little that others will suffer.

I have developed an eating problem.

I don't want to call it Anorexia because that is what my sister has suffered from for over half of her years on earth, and any similarities between us disappeared long ago.
It also just feels fundamentally wrong to be "anorexic".
I'm just not LIKE that.
It's not me.
I'm not the type.

And... at any given moment, I feel in grave danger of all my control slipping away from me. In other words, I don't know if I can keep up the starvation, the denial, the ferocity of the exercise regime BUT if I even think about going easier on myself, I will be unable to stop the gorging and the uncontollable binging that will follow.

I recognise that wht I have just written lacks balance.

It is a problem I can't find an answer to.

I need extreme lack.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

My Cage.

I'm so tired.
Not just lack-of-sleep tired.

Soul tired.

Sometimes depression feels like an extra limb growing out of me; grotesque and oversized. Not something that could escape my notice.
More often though, depression becomes so innate that it is barely distinguishable.
It coats my insides in a death mist that slows my senses, blots my feelings and leaves me feeling little more than an empty shell.
I am a container of a hidden fog of gas so noxious, so insidious, that I can no longer recognise my edges. Perhaps then, that is partly why I need to be able to see and feel each rib; why I need to be small enough for me to hold.

A sense of desperation claws at the arid valleys of emptiness inside me.

On my 33rd birthday, I weighed 6 stone 8 pounds.
Less than I weighed when I was 13.

I'm trapped in a wire cage and, when I dare to look at the space inviting the unknown, I become so afraid and feel so broken, I dare not fly through it.
I'm left clinging to the perch, with an energy I can't sustain, in a very foggy, very frightening cage.

I'm so so so upset that I have let panic win today.

I'm sad enough to taste salt tonight.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Distorted Perceptions?

Most people with an eating disorder have a skewed perception of their body.

I know this. Better even than most.

I remember walking through town a few years back as my sister explained to me that a Size 8 COULD be fat.
I remember the hot, white anger, tempered by my mind curling around her words, desperately trying to grasp for an understanding, some logic.
I remember it as one of the many, many moments where I felt that my ribcage was a small, cold, metal box holding a bomb.

I've talked a lot about my sister's illness but haven't particularly been able to talk about what has happened to me.

Although it feels like strange and frightening territory, it is perhaps possible, that when I see myself, I don't see what others see. Or at least, different parts of me see differet things.

In therapy we have been, quite gently, picking up the notion of having different parts.
My parts don't communicate with each other, which I'm told, is a bit of an issue.

I realised this week, that my different parts all have something very different invested in starvation...
This would explain why I can't work it out and why my understanding fluctuates between fine, morning mist and a blanket of thick, inpeneterable fog.
Diffeeent parts have different reasons and I can't even access some of them.

It's possible that I even have parts that I don't know.


I'm torn between thinking this is absurd, illogical psychobabble


the possibiity that, in trusting my therapist, there is something more... something other... some chance that what I am now is not all I ever will be.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

I'm Not Alone?

Lots of things to write but I'll go with what the blog is meant to be about.


It felt like I had been swallowing liquefied lead when I crawled into the little house in the woods yesterday evening. Hot lead that cooled in my chest and solidified in my gut. Heavy and cold.

Her words were bars of golden light that I allowed to my hands to touch, even to hold and bring to my lips.
And in that trembling daring, the light I think, sort of met me in a deeper place and in my chest at least, has dissipated some of the darkness.

I dared.
I must remember that when I dare, it pays off.

I wanted to leave some of the gold here. A reminder of what it could be if I can just lower the fence a little. And it occurs to me as I type, perhaps I don't even need to take the fence down. Maybe I just need to hop over it for very small amounts of time.
Kind of like the process of desensitising.

I can't remember big chunks of what was said in the session but what I do remember is her saying that I was a battleground and that it wasn't my fault.
Is it really not?
I challenged her. "I must be choosing this. I must be".
The parts of you are not communicating as they should be.
You have become the punitive adult. It has become you.

How do I stop it?

We are working with that now.
WE are.
WE will do this together.

I can't really remember ever feeling anything but alone. Not because my parents didn't try to calm my fears. Not because I couldn't ever tell anyone how frightened I was. Just because I have always felt that nobody can ever really be there or understand.
I have never thought that 'we' was... Well... 'We' has never been. Not for any dramatic reason. Just because nobody could be there.

I gave her the What Ifs.
I told her she would never be there.
I was thinking of the nights in pain, the moments where I hold the blade, the lonely, head curling times where I am frozen.

I dared to tell her she would never be enough.
I think I thought she would back away.

She told me she would be there. Even if it meant more sessions during the week. She said she wouldn't leave me and would try, to the best of her ability, not to let me down.
But, she said, it relies a lot on trusting me.

I'm not good with trust.

No. You're not but that's because for whatever reason, nobody has been able to be there and cope with the pain.


Last night I struggled with her. Not in her house but in my head. Hmm... Yes. Crazy indeed.
I continued arguing long after I left.
But I was fighting with golden light which had already, somehow, seeped in.

This morning, for the first time ever, I feel like perhaps, if I was going to take a risk... maybe it would be WE and not just I.

I feel scared by what I just typed. Scared that I have allowed words to fall out and when I 'come round' to logic, I'll want to stuff them back in.


I'm trying to take some risks.
Staying safe hasn't been working out too well.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Careful crimson smile
Hiding sepia sadness
Hot tears streak my soul