Wednesday, 27 October 2010

It's Official

The trembling walk across the flagstones.

I'm fashionably late.

I don't realise at the time, but the man in the thick designer glasses and the understated floral shirt, watches from somewhere within the brick hexagon and says to his (note scribbling) trainee, "Ah. Here comes a skinny person. This must be her".

This man, I've met him before. About sixteen years ago.
I almost want to gag at the memory of a tortured, teenage me; hunched, shaking in the back of dad's car after a one off meeting with this man, my sister's consultant, in the unit where she was incarcerated.

I remember he was kind to me.
Finally: someone who wanted to know how it was for a sibling.
Muscles held taut in my gut, I clamp my jaw; frightened his listening will force a desperate stream of projectile grief.

My mother, dressed in the small laughter of middle class embarrassment, rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue.
Stupid daughter... Doesn't know WHAT she's saying..! As if WE ever lived in denial..! As if WE would ever overlook such a thing! OF COURSE we knew what was happening! OF COURSE we knew ALL ALONG!

Choking on the words forced back down my throat, I shook all the way home.
Shook as dad glanced apologetically in the rearview mirror.
Shook as dad worriedly concurred that PERHAPS it WAS possible that I had known, long before them, the reality of my sister's terrible death wish.

I didn't recognise the man, even as I tried to remember something concrete about the session we had had all those years ago.

I would never have dreamed I would end up in front of him again. And certainly not for this reason.

At the end of today's assessment: the words, "Anorexia Nervosa".

Every syllable ricocheted off the wall of my chest.

How can I know and yet not know?

"You believe me? You take me seriously?"

I am frightened and shocked and ashamed and relieved and disgusted.

The question is not, whether I believe you, he says. The question is whether you can believe yourself and take this illness seriously.

Again. Bullets.

I'm not well.

I knew that.

I need another assessment appointment. We haven't quite covered everything.

We haven't?

Worst thing?
I double booked it for the woman's appointment next Monday.
THAT'S how screwed my mind was.

Now what?

Before I leave, he comments on the dryness of my hands. Says he noticed as we met and shook hands.
He noticed that? What kind of person IS this?
He suggests creams.
I admit I am frightened of absorbing calories through my skin.
"Not possible", he persuades.
I nod, gritting my teeth and flashing untrusting smile.
"Ok", I lie. "I'll start using cream on the splits".
(I have eczema)
Next he'll tell me vitamins can't make you put on weight, but they can. I read up on water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. I know my stuff.

"I'm seeing ..... (my sister's name...)... this afternoon..."
Something in me freezes over
"I won't tell her I've seen you of course... confidentiality and all that..." He tails off.

"I have no idea what she thinks or feels", I offer, lamely because I am at a loss.
He looks at me, studied, careful.
"I think she's been very worried about you". Somehow, his hand is stretched out to me.
"I think she's been very jealous of me", I sink my teeth into his hand and bite down hard. "Jealous that she's in hospital and I'm not"...
He laughs (uneasily?). Blood drips from my mouth...
"...That's the only reason she gives a toss".
I walk away, my throat and eyes stinging and swelling; the metallic taste on my bottom lip.
He hates me. he hates me. He hates me.
He loves her. He loves her. He loves her.
I want to wring my own neck as I get into the car.
Maybe her neck too.

It's eleven o'clock.
The sun shines bright and I need to do a number of very bad things to get through the despair of the day.

I do all of them but still, thirteen or so hours later, I am sinking.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Corm Before The Storm

Beautiful Cornwall.

The unexpected warmth of the late October sun; the flat, brilliantly clear light; the depth of blue... This is a place I'd really love to live someday.
My friends have been great. True friends. No terrible questions. Just simple observations and a couple of honest conversations, which in all fairness, is a lot more than I have had with most people in recent months.

I hadn't meant to eat or drink tonight, yet having succumbed to the call of alcohol, I've given in to both. I feel absolute despair right now.
I'm sure I must weigh so much.
I will never go away again without my scales.

Tomorrow I drive home and in some ways, I dread all that is waiting for me.
I wish I never needed anything but oxygen again.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Things I Haven't Said

  • I'm on half term, which I have been dreading because I don't operate well outside of my routine, particularly at the moment.
  • In desperation, I recently phoned the local eating disorders consultant (who has had dealings with my sister for years). I have an appointment on Wednesday.
  • I'm petrified that I won't be taken seriously if I attend on Wednesday, and I'm petrified that I will.
  • I ended up in hospital on Thursday after a complete physical and mental meltdown. I'm ok but still very frightnened. 'Anxiety' isn't a satisfactory explanation for the crazy heart stuff I've had going on.
  • Old friends I am staying with say I look very ill. I am perplexed by this as I have put on a couple of pounds over the last few days. I feel ridiculously big.
  • I want to get better but I am desperate to lose weight. The two things are directly contrary to each other.
  • I'm tired and feel a bit hopeless, despite looking forward to tomorrow's lone sojourn to St Ives.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Free Up Your Mind. Then Let Me Know How You Did It.

It's (not very much) like having the jaw of a steel toothed trap clamped on my bare foot.

It's nightfall in the jungle and I'm faced with the decision to either stay still in the hope that help will come; or to wrench my foot out of the trap (thereby risk bleeding to death) and try to find my own way to help.

Either way I'll probably lose my foot.

Is it more painful to suffer the slings and arrows of my wretched attempts to express some of the incomprehensible stuff I am feeling right now, or is it better to just carry it in silence.

Either way it feels like hell.

I've been lost since the session on Monday.

Faced with her, somewhat glib sounding, recommendation that I "change", I eventually found that I couldn't even be bothered to speak.

What I had been TRYING to do in response to the 'change' suggestion, was to establish HOW exactly, i should go about doing such a thing when, I feel little more than total despair.

"It's not despair", she states. "People in despair don't have the energy to argue"

"Right", I say, simultaneously wondering if I am 'all people' and also thinking (wryly)that she clearly doesn't know that she is talking to someone who can do two and a half hour long cardio workout at the end of a working day, on 4 small tomatoes and some lettuce.

Don't tell me about energy and despair.

So. What do I do, I ask.

How can I change.

"It's not something that you DO"

(and I roll my inner eyes because this is beginning to sound like I'm asking a rather pretentious self styled mytic to tell me what I should do to find a pot of gold)

"It's about freeing up your mind"

Oh GREAT. I AM talking to one of the above. Excuse me? Did you see where my therapist went..?


Freeing up my mind.

That's what I need to do.

Free it from the rigid reign of control.

Who would have thought it were that easy?

Being a teacher, you fast learn the need to be a little creative with your questioning in order to appeal to the understanding of such a range of pupils.

In the hope of getting a more practical, directive type of response I ask,

"If I were you and you were me, what's the first thing you'd do after the session?"

(Please note, in order to "change")

Her helpful response?


Throughout the latter part of the session, that's just what I thought I might do (albeit involuntarily)if I could manage to crawl to my car, but when I did, everything felt a bit unreal and big.

I drove most of the way home, pulled up in a layby, and played a word scramble game on my phone. That's what I do if things get too much.

Chilled to the bone and blank in the pending darkness, I played game after game, absorbed in the obsessive need to beat my point score each time.

I didn't move untiil two hours later.

I'm dreading Friday.

I don't want to go back but I don't want her to think I'm being childish.

Pride probably isn't a great reason to go to therapy.

I've been desperate again today.

Alone in the house again tonight, I ate a small amount and then expelled as much as my gag reflex would allow.

In the last few hours though, I've gone and stuffed it up by eating sweets.

I can't change until I manage to change the desire to be thinner.

HOW do you change a desire THAT strong?

Answers on a postcard...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Bloody Therapy

To The Woman,

This hurts me more than it hurts you.

(I hope you feel it though)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Crashing In (On Me)

Words fly round my head at an alarming speed and yet hardly any of them connect.
The words play childish games, taunting me with their dance then darting away when I try to pin them down.
My thoughts often do that too.

Like a child watching a horror film, Monday saw me sitting in the little house in the woods, hands pressed hard against my eyes in the vain attempt to stem the flow of sobbed tears.
It's an effort to remember and as I type, I'm trying to get hold of a solid memory...
(5 minute pause)
I can't remember anything other than the sense of absolute despair that had been building silently in me. I had tried to keep it under control; tried to keep it away from The Woman; tried to ignore the feeling that I had been feeling as though I had run out of things to talk about in therapy; as thought there was nothing left for me; as though things would never get better than living with the dull ache of nothingness which sometimes curls me to crisp.

The weekend before had been complicated.
I felt left.

"We'll get you through this", The Woman's words were spoken soothingly but they sawed through the numb layer of post-emotional outburst and, without warning, prompted the unspoken question: 'Through to what? Through to the more 'stable' state of dull pain?'

I didn't make work on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I gave in to the desperate cravings for alcohol. I drank and ate junk. In a frenzied panic I stuck my fingers a far down my throat as I could.
Twelve times.
I'm emetophobic.

Yesterday evening, The Woman shocked me by talking about codes of ethics and professional responsibility.
She wants me to see a psychiatrist.

From seeming not to want to acknowledge my 'illness' (re, eating) to being suddenly deadly serious. Emphasis on DEADly. It's a hell of a leap that she seems to have taken.

'Great', I think. 'NOW she gets concerned'.
Apparently, she DOES take me very seriously.

I thought she didn't believe me.
I thought she's been wanting to dump me.

Apparently not.

She says she won't ever dump me. I'll have to be the one to end it.
I don't believe her.
Give it time.

I'm split. Again. Split right through. Not in a balanced way though.

The split is between my knowing that I am ill and my knowing that I am making it all up. It's all in my head. None of this is real.
I'm too big. My body is playing weird tricks on me. I should be smaller. It's re-distributing the weight... Spreading it around so as to make me look larger than I should.

I want to apologise for this inelegant post.
I want to apologise for nearly everything.

The Woman promised that she couldn't contact my doctor unless she thought I was suicidal.
I thought, "thank God I haven't told you more about the way I'm feeling".

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Every part of me is screaming to be thinner.
I don't understand what has happened to me.
This can't be me. I'm not like this.
I'm the together one. I'm the sound one. I'm the refuge where others take shelter during the storms.

Physician heal thyself

said a colleague who was expressing concern at my weight loss.

How? I wanted to ask.

Sometimes I don't even believe that I have an eating problem. That's probably another post though.

Monday, 4 October 2010


I can only feel the cold wind of despair as it howls through me. I am left gasping, winded by the force of the blasts.
It's not depression. It's despair.
It's the claws of hopelessness tearing at hidden flesh.
It's the mouth of disgust sucking marrow from my bones.
And I am left with nothing.
Nothing then
nothing now
nothing in the when.

Ahead, a black hole
Behind, a sheer drop.

Despair affords me no rope
with which to hang
on to hope, or choke
this demon.

It's been a steep weekend and I haven't got it in me to explain why.

I've eaten badly, drunk hungrily and driven frantically.

If you feel disgusted by my negativity, I can bet you a thousand wishes that you can't even begin to reach the levels that I have.
I have tried positive self talk, prayer, gratitude, acceptance, reprimand, reframing, reinterpretation, re everything.
I've counted my blessings, immersed myself in thoughts of those less fortunate.
I know I don't count on the scale.

I hate myself all the more for that fact that I have no excuse for my despair.

And can I tell the woman?
I don't want to see her tomorrow.
She expects me to have had a good weekend (as did I). The fact that I feel this hollow is shameful. I feel like a disobedient child.
I have let her down.
Somehow I must be choosing misery.
I am a disgrace.