Monday, 18 November 2013

On The Way To Recovery

As I drive to my place of cold
Morning sun streams
Over frosted fields

Recovery is a wing
Pierced by blades
Of winter grass.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Needle Returns to the Start of the Song...

... And we'll all sing along like before...
Goes the song.

Irritating when your internal MP3 is stuck on the same track and no matter how hard you shake it, it won't stop. Trying to get away from it is just about as effective as trying to go on holiday without your head. And don't we all wish we could do that at certain times in our life. Take enough hallucinogens and it's possible, but they're not exactly cost effective and the insurance you'd take out is ridiculous.
No way around it but to play enough music to flush this one out of the system.
This particular musical ghosting is a song by... (I pause, not for literary impact, but because my memory function is compromised by malnutrition, although, it could just be that my powers of recollection are as shite as they ever were)... 
Where was I? Okay. (Breathe) The music... 
It's a song by Del Amitri (who for some unknown reason, I always confuse with Dire Straits). An especially depressing number, aptly named, 'Nothing Ever Happens'. For those who like to listen, go ahead.

I guess it's the theme of repetition that lends the song to my worn out inner ears; and for good reason.
On Monday, I retrace my tracks to the unit where it all began. Back to the beginning.
March 2011, the agonies of which, I captured on this very blog.
That's right.
Monday will see me standing outside the gates of hell itself.
And to be clear, it's not that nothing will have changed, because I have. My illness has. My way of thinking has. Three years of various treatments, including seven months as an inpatient, and rather a lot of medication, have put me on a markedly different rung of the ladder.
What is hard, is that it's the same hole. The same darkness. And, pretty much the same distance to the light.
Hence, 'we all sing along like before'.

I want this to work... which means that I will have to work. Very hard

It will be bearable, though it won't feel it.
It won't kill me, though the process of recovery will involve the slow death of the illness, so it will feel like it.

In all the darkness, I must somehow manage to fix my eyes on a light I will not always see. 

In order for recovery to take place, you have to believe that, just as there is always a sun and a moon, there is a new life beyond, and there is a different person behind, the illness / addiction. 
The courage it takes to make this leap of faith is immense and for me personally, I don't know if I can sustain it. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Mill Hill East

In the back
I shook
As you took
the road home
and She, alone
left screaming.

We drove
tight eyes weeping
and weaving
through grey smudged streets
of Mill Hill East.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Benefits - As IF.

      6 years ago I was a valued colleague. 
I had a good career, bright prospects and a good wage. 
I had a pension. Good holidays. 
I was contributing to society. 
I was teaching English and social skills to young, disaffected teenagers who were so often in need of firm boundaries; steady, fair reliable adults who could help to rebuild some of the trust and respect that they lacked. 
I was passionate, respected, consulted. 

      How is it then, that 6 years on, this same young woman sits with her support worker, filling in a form for Disability Living Allowance?
How did she go from the shiny, high gloss teacher to the redundant, matt -finish patient?

      The change was staged, steady. I was stripped, planed, sanded and my identity fell away... disintegrated, replaced by the illness...  
Suddenly, I'm not 'a Teacher' anymore. ("Hi! I'm a teacher too! What do you teach? Me? Oh I do Key Stage 3 and 4 English"). 
Not anymore. 
Now I'm: 'an Anorexic'

      I  don't have an income. I've lost my career. I don't have holidays.
Days slip past me. I am overwhelmed by small things. Most days end without ceremony. I have achieved nothing. Thousands of hours and nothing to show. 

      Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what this section of the form seemed to demand, I left it blank.
And so my Support Worker wrote a few clinical / medical comments.

My claim for benefit will be submitted today. 

But really...


I'm trying so hard to see anything that would justify the use that word.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Pillars of Salt. Square One.

But Lot was so afraid he couldn’t move. So the angels grabbed him by the hand, and they grabbed the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, and they led them out of the city. As soon as they were safely out of the city, one of the angels said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”  
And then God rained fire onto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thick, black smoke filled the air like smoke from a fiery furnace.
(Paraphrased Old Testament story - Taken from Genesis 19:25 ff )

Sometimes in life, you have to grit your teeth, set your face like flint and let the hot tears run cold.
You have to put blinkers on and RUN. Ignore every twinge of agony and crash through every hurdle of despair.

Scream if you have to, but whatever you do, DON'T LOOK BACK. Don't look at what you were, where you've come from, how you felt. Just keep running like nobody has ever run before. 

There's a point in recovery, be it recovery from an addiction or recovery from an Eating Disorder, when to look back is fatal. Just like Lot's wife, to look at what you've left behind is going to destroy you. 
In the case of Anorexia, to stop pushing through the pain barriers, to allow yourself a backward glance is to begin to slow down. Casting that quick over-the-shoulder peek, may not feel like it, but it's going to make your feet like lead, your path like treacle. And all of a sudden, it's got you. 
You were going through hell, you should have kept on going. 
Why go through halfway through hell and turn back?
That's what looking behind you will do.

Suddenly, you're so much bigger. 
You can't feel your bones. 
You can't see the ribs, the dip in the sternum, the ridge of the clavicle, the tailbone, the prominent metacarpals, the pits alongside your knees... 

And you turn
into a pillar
standing in the tunnel
you never saw through.
And there, you stay
grain by grain
bone by bone

'Lot's Wife'
are back
to the place you glanced at
when you get there,
it's only 


Monday, 2 September 2013

Counting Calories

You can spot them in a supermarket if you know what you're looking for.

Most obvious, are the tiny ones, well wrapped but with tell tale stork legs rooting them to the floor.
They stand close to the shelf, elbows tucked in, head down, clutching a tin.
They are looking at the nutritional information, specifically at how many kcals per 100g. They pick another tin and do the same. If there was a way of x-raying their mind, you'd see vast amounts of data being computed. Complex comparison tables charting an array of brands, computing calories, converting kilojoules, weight for weight, fat content, fibre.
If they weren't already, most anorexics get good at maths at some point in the descent into hell.

Less recognisable, are the less skinny ones, but don't be fooled... They may have just come out of a treatment facility (goodness, that sounds American!). They may have an Eating Disorder which falls into the mysterious EDNOS category. Not all ED patients are obvious, but an informed eye can spot them a mile off.

One of the

very difficult things about trying to recover from an Eating Disorder, be it Anorexia, Bulimia or something less definable, is that once you know the calorific content of a foodstuff, you can't just 'unknow' it. It's an unfortunate byproduct of many people's illness that they have a head filled with numbers which will, presumably, stay with them forever. After all, knowing the amount of calories in a slice of Warburtons Wholemeal Bread, being able to add up a total when including a medium sized egg, and knowing the amount you're ingesting when you scrape out half a pot of Ski Strawberry Yoghurt, is just as essential as knowing your pin number.

You are not going to forget.
Which, in fairness, just adds to the agony of attempting recovery. 
This morning, deciding on a mid morning snack, was ridiculous. Almost laughable.


I'm hungry. My weight has dropped a lot. I know I must try to up my game.

Snack. Hmm...

 I want chocolate with my coffee, but I know the yoghurt coated fruit snack has 70 less calories than the packet of chocolate... and, it's healthier..!(probably not , but hey... everyone falls for the gimmicky health advertising, right?)

At this stage, the inside workings of my mind look a little like a fantastical fight from a Harry Potter film. Numbers are darting about; variously sized and coloured digits streaking through darkness, pressing their shapes into the soft blackness of your retina. 

"What if I halved that, added that..? Had 2 of those for the 1 of those? This is the equivalent to that... Hmmm... It's still over a 100 calories.

What do I end up with?
A half packet of salted popcorn.

I know I've had 40 calories.
(And before you feel compelled to tell me, I KNOW the info on these things is only approximate and there may be a 70% margin either way... but something is better than nothing.) Which is a mantra I need to double up on... 
(Irony noted)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Going... Down?

Okay...Title only meaningful to those who are familiar with the old Aerosmith track, 'Love in An Elevator', a good but vastly overplayed track (at one time). My frustration with my one time favourite band has increased as the teenage, rock-chick-love has lessened; all because they sold out to the soft rock market with dribbly anthems like 'Don't Wanna Miss A Thing'.
Apologies. My intentions to write about 'recovery' have been twisted into a rant about my old musical idols.

(Aside) It occurs to me as I apologise, that actually, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry are a long way from being completely irrelevant links to the subject in hand. Both singers have grappled and battled with serious alcohol and heroin addictions. Both know the agonies that come with fighting to be free from that which has possession of your mind.

Addiction comes in so many forms and is something so closely related to the topic of Eating Disorders that it is worthy of some careful thought.
Now however, my mind is too tired to begin debating the fine lines and the overlaps. I regularly feel the urge to write some more informative pieces about Anorexia and Mental Health here but every time I sit down to write, the words sort of ebb away from my (cognitively impaired) mind. 

That's right. 
"Cognitively Impaired". 
The term, used by the experts, to explain the condition of a mind weakened by the effects of malnutrition. 
It makes me wince to accept that this is my current state and yet, all my Anorexic protestations, the frantic scrabbling to deny truth, dwindle in the face of plain, starkly real figures. 
The scales don't lie, although, typically, in the mind of someone suffering with an Eating Disorder, they are incorrect. Not day upon day upon day they're not. 
I'm following that bloody line of decline, and I KNOW it... It's as though I am rendered completely helpless by the power of the Anorexia. 
My daylight head says, 'C'mon! Get a grip! You have to find the strength, the power, to beat this';  In the lonely darkness of the restless night, the more sinsiter voice, 'You'll be lucky if you wake up to see a new day. Your internal organs are tired. Your heart is weak'. 

A young lady who I was an inpatient with for six months, died last week. 
Multiple Organ Failure caused by a long term Eating Disorder.
She was strong, lively, witty, intelligent. 
Her death rocked the ED community I 'served time' with. 


At the same time, my best friend here in ___________  gave birth to a little girl. 
And so, the cycle of life and death continues. Everywhere today and tomorrow and for the rest of time, the mortality drum will continue, beating out it's rhythm on the lives it chooses. I get that. 
What I struggle to accept, is the slow suicide that this illness contributes to this pattern. It's so... horribly pointless. 
Life is to be lived, to the fullest. Jesus said that. And he is not to be argued with. 
Why then, am I, and so many beautiful, talented, young lives, subscribed and obligated to serve this hideous monster?

All answers on a postcard...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A World Beyond Our Imaginations

…Maybe there IS. Maybe there isn’t.
Either way, if we don’t allow ourselves to entertain the possibility that there COULD be a different way of living life, and there MIGHT be a different way of thinking about things, we will never know.

I’m not the hippy type. I promise.

I don’t hug trees, I don’t take herbal hayfever tablets, I ‘m not a vegetarian, I’m not a member of Greenpeace, I don’t do yoga, I don’t wear clothing woven in South America and I’ve never tried Arnica.

But (there had to be, right?) BUT, I do believe that we get into certain patterns of thinking. Even scientists report that there are certain ‘neural pathways’ in the brain, which is a technical way of saying that our thoughts get used to travelling along particular alleyways, leading to familiar places, default settings, if you like. Humans are creatures of habit, brains follow suit.

What are the implications of all this for those of us in recovery?

A friend recently told me that, although they’d like to believe in something bigger, they just COULDN’T and I sympathised because I, of all people, understand doubt, cynicism and unbelief. I battle it everyday in order to keep the faith I DO have, alive. Later, I returned to our conversation in my mind and came to the realisation that the word ‘couldn’t’ would probably act as a barrier in her mind.

To be truly open to something, like the possibility of recovery, is to allow it to rattle round our minds without any thing as concrete as ‘words’ attached to it. Just as if you are rolling a ball round a clean floor; no mud, no dust, nothing to stick to it…

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s in this act of ‘allowing’, that hope filters in… unseen… unheard and then… suddenly:  there.

Opening up old wardrobe doors. No thoughts. No can’ts, cans, couldn’t, wouldn’t, must, should or shouldn’ts.  Just opening something up.

It has to be worth a try.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

To Blog Anew or Not To Blog Anew...?

That is my question. Well... I've already started a new blog... It's different. Less personal. More hopeful. Not about me... about encouraging others who are recovering... I don't know where that leaves me here. I feel ashamed of my self-centred ramblings here. And yet... It seems like such a lot to just walk away from. 
 My weight is dropping and my mind is hurtling into the no man's land that sits between life and death. It is achingly desperate that my words can fly the banner of freedom, but my mouth won't be filled with the nourishment it needs. I am afraid that in a few months, my voice will be all there is. An empty echo. 
Heard but not seen.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Moments like these

Yesterday's sky was unfathomably blue and I took this pic of a moment when it was filled with little daubs of pure white floss.
The practice of Mindfulness teaches that it is moments like these which help us manage difficult emotions. Taking time out of your own head to focus on something different, be it a sensation; a visual; a sound... can help to relieve immediate mental agony. 
Long before 'Mindfulness', DBT, CBT, NLP, and possibly another half dozen letter laden therapies,  poet W H Davies famously wrote a short verse:
WHAT is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?—No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Whilst my natural tendency towards cynicism means I find all the spin doctor, quack style acronyms difficult, I find wisdom and inspiration in the words of this poem. It makes me reflect that life is just a series of moments and whilst some may feel like the jagged edge of a cold steel blade, others are the softness of sea sleeked stones. 
Yesterday I took a moment to stand and stare at the stunning polka sky, and in that moment, all was well.
Stick with the poets, I say. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Trajectory Towards Death and Why an Anorexic Can't Bake Gingerbread Hearts

The guy who manages my care here is philosophical as he draws a continuous line through my weight chart. He looks grim faced as he states it is a trajectory towards death. He coins a new phrase, 'the line of decline' and jokes that he will be using that one in the next staff meeting. 
Despite his laughter, I know that he longs for my recovery almost as much as a member of my own family. He has known my parents, my sister (and latterly, me) for seventeen years now. He is as dedicated to wiping out eating disorders as any serious contract killer and although he is has vast acres of experience, his seemingly endless ability to maintain some small glimmer of hope (comments about trajectories not withstanding) never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps it's just that he's missed his vocation as an actor, but he always seems to take me seriously. I just can't count the times when I swear blind that I'll beat it this week; that I'll allow myself to eat a little more; that next weigh in will be different...  I mean it, by the way. My words, when I speak them, are never hollow promises. And yet, week in, week out, I stare disbelievingly at the scales thinking that they can't be right. Not possibly.
Even I would stop believing me.

He has talked to me about going into the day unit. Or back into inpatient for a spell.
I refuse.
He bides his time. 

I have the very best of intentions.

Which brings me to Gingerbread Hearts, which I think I will make for a family friend who is going through a hell I can't imagine.
Simple gesture, right?
Or it is until I think I'll make a batch and have a couple as my allocated snack.

I'll just make them a teensy bit more healthy... No harm in that. 'NORMAL' people do that all the time... It's NORMAL to cut down on the sugar. 
And so I substitute sugar for stewed apple.
I'm sure that it's NORMAL to reduce the fat. I can think of friends who aren't anorexic and THEY would cut down on the butter. Right?
Of course they would. It's NORMAL nowadays. In this health conscious, nutritionally aware age, people ALWAYS use lower fat options.
And so I substitute some of the fat for stewed apple.

Don't try this at home. 
Compromise is the name of the game. 
Trouble is, an anorexic ends up compromising on everything. Trimming off edges until there's nothing left. 
An analogy so apt that it aches.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Where Were You? A Cry for Those Who Feel Forgotten.

In the months following my 'release' from inpatient treatment, I've joined a writing group. 
I joined on the premise that it seemed to be a very relaxed, sociable, light hearted group which, whilst keeping 'writing' at its core, didn't take it all too seriously.
As it happens, my impressions of it were correct. We meet on Tuesday evenings in a pub. A good situation (although, for those of us with Anorexia, the calories in alcohol are enough to send us running for the Diet Coke).
The group is made up of characters who are intriguing, inspiring and... talent wise, fairly intimidating! Although I can only recall one person who is remotely self important, most of the regulars (around fifteen or so) are published; some are even fairly prolific writers. 
Tonight there was a 'showcase' evening. where folk were invited to read something they'd written in the past.
It would have been too revealing, too personal, but a poem I wrote (and posted here years ago) has been in my mind, (called forth in a very roundabout sort of way) by a poem I read on someone else's blog. An honest poem about desperation and despair.

This poem was written in the aftermath of my own depression, and is not without its own, very potent, sense of anger. I apologise in advance if readers find it offensive. I post it here as a kind of offering to those who have suffered in silence, or have been unheard.
It's for those untouched by comfort, not necessarily because it wasn't there, but because the pain was in a hidden place.
It's a bitter cry, best cried alone, but until it's been cried, it can't fall away.

Where were you when I needed you?
When darkness cast death into me?
I bled black for years
Tears turned to stone and I screamed
each time I passed a tear through ducts
too small for stones.

Where were you when I had words,
to spill and spout and squander?
And my arms ached and ached
from holding the binding skeins apart.
And I retched unseen as they tangled
and strangled deep in my gut.

Where were you when I was fighting?
Punching holes into a silent wall,
Spitting truth bullets into denial’s flesh,
Kicking the dust and biting angry hands
that levered my bitten swelling lips apart,
and rammed words back down my throat.

Where were you when the salt burned like sulphur?
My beaten pillow, wet with censored pain
And twisting, I writhed with the knowing
Of things yet unknown.
And my cheeks smarted with their rage
Truth- shy handprints scorched my skin

Where were you when nothing was left
When slivers of cold metal comfort
Whispered sweet numbing into flesh
And I bled silent pools of hidden screams
On shiny, hard bathroom floors

Where were you when sweat and tears
Plastered matted hair to my face?
Smothering silent screams,
I twisted and turned and gasped,
As I aborted myself
and bled secret shame
onto my sheets

And it’s too late now
For your saving reach
My cold corpse
Can’t feel your comfort
And it’s too late now
To breathe life
Into the bloodless womb

“I want to understand”
Echoes in the hollow
And I am filled with sickness.
And grief swells like thunder

In my head
I spit on your floor
And walk away.
You can pay your respects
But don’t fuck with the dead.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Speaking of Normalcy...

I couldn't resist taking a cheeky snap of this mug when I saw it in a shop window.
I'm on holiday in Cornwall; land of smugglers and sea shanties and shipwrecks and ancient tales of hidden pirates' plunder. It's now home to thousands of artists (on account of the beautiful, flat light and the sheer sense of SPACE). 
Cobbled streets, winding lanes, laid back locals and sun soaked flora. The essence of Cornwall. Pints of real ale, Cornish pasties, and fish and chips fresher than any you'd ever find. The streets here are lined with gift shops galore; the type that you bump around, stroking pretty wooden shapes, painted in low tone shades - willow green, dusky pink, dirt track yellow...
It's as far South West as you get in the UK, and the sun sets here last. Days feel long and it's endlessly beautiful. 

I'm on a family holiday. The first for years.

I think we're past thinking we're a nice normal family. With two anorexics, an anxiety disordered mother, a control freak dad and another sister who, believe me, has her own scarring, we're hardly 'normal'. I'm glad we can (sort of) admit it (bar my mother). I'm glad we can (sometimes) laugh about it (almost). But, I remember a time when we couldn't. 
Many years ago, when the values were set differently, when the pride was stronger and the pain - rawer; we were  bound and gagged for fear that someone might see we weren't the "nice, normal family" that popped up, smiling and glossy and beautifully 'normal'.
You might ask the question, 'what is normal?'in an attempt to deny that there's any such thing. 
In my experience, those who deny 'normal' (mother), are either defending their hidden non-normalcy, or, they're just not weird enough. 
If the family is a piece of wood, pain is a plane, relentless at task with which it's charged. And the shape we're in now comes from years of scraping and turning and sanding and smoothing. And we're still very much a rough hewn hunk of wood, but at least we're not still in the denial phase of 'normal'. 
To attempt comparison is ridiculous... yet in some strange way, it's more painful to be at that end of the process. I still bear scars from smothering hands that insisted that we were 'normal'.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Facts and Figures. It's All or Nothing

Three Months - One Stone (6.3kg)  = Slow Downward Trend

Based on current rate

BMI 16.1
- 1 Stone  (3 months)

 = BMI  13.6 by end of August

I'm trying so hard to keep fighting but I'm doing a really intensive teaching course (English as a foreign language) and I'm finding it very hard to focus on both the input sessions, assignments, lesson planning and teaching, and the battle against Anorexia. 

I must write here more. The intention is there but I find the drive towards perfection kills my ability to even begin. 
This is so typical of somebody who has 'all or nothing' thinking. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Side Effects of Anorexia

I haven't really written about the effects of Anorexia, and to begin doing so is a little bit like looking at a sheer cliff face, wondering how on earth it can be scaled.
However, partly in an attempt to promote understanding and awareness of the effects of this illness, and partly as an exercise to remind myself of the horrors that lie just a few degrees beneath the point where I now stand, I am going to attempt to climb the scarp.

Let's make a start at the base of this mountain.

When you first start losing weight, your body feels great and your mind may even feel sharper, clearer. You may go so far as to feel on top of the world because you have some sense of control or achievement. 
The problems begin as soon as your BMI drops too low. For those who don't know, your BMI is your Body Mass Index which is a measure of body shape used by the medics. Although it is not an exact science, it provides a guide to a healthy body weight based on the ratio of your weight to height. This is regarded as being anywhere between 18.5 (though some argue 20) and 25. 

The effects of being underweight are fairly well documented and a quick Google search will inform you of the main risks. However, I'm going to write about the things I won't miss about being at a stupidly low weight.

I'll start with this. (Always a good place to start, if you're lucky enough to have it!) 
It's an odd thing with extreme weight loss; sort of a 'ya win some, ya lose some' scenario.
Every time I washed my hair, I'd have to be really careful of it's devilish attempts to block the plughole, because it would just come out in big, tangled clumps. I molted like a cat in springtime.
The hair I did have lacked life. It became dull, brittle and dry, resisting the conditioners that I sometimes used.
When I sank to a much lower weight, the reverse happened. I stopped molting and began to develop soft, fine, downy hair on my face, my arms and my legs. This is known as 'lanugo' and is your body's desperate attempt to keep warm.Clever really.

Which brings me nicely to something else I won't miss. COLD.
Unless you're one for subjecting yourself to ice baths or Arctic wanderings, I think it would be difficult to imagine just how cold an anorexic can be. I recall putting on layers of thermal socks, leg warmers, tights, anything to warm my freezing feet. Nothing worked. My hands were chapped and peeling, my core, constantly numb with cold. And I'm not even talking about winter.

Speaking of my hands and feet, it almost hurts to remember the ELECTRIC SHOCK SENSATIONS I got as I expended energy. I would feel electric pulses throughout my body, culminating in bizarre sensations in my fingers, cheeks and feet.
I know now that this was due to severe electrolyte imbalance, which occurs when you don't have sufficient nutrition. Binging and purging is also one of the causes, as is excessive exercise. All of these of course, also put undue strain on the heart.

I won't go into the mortality rates.
In fact, I feel emotionally exhausted. I'll continue in another post. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Breaking ...

Silence, for all it's mystical, whimsical and wise properties, is keeping me prisoner. With the passing of each silent day, another bar goes into the cage and I, half crazy for the want of words, pace endlessly up and down the concrete floor.
Inside me, thoughts, ideas, agonies scratch to be given a voice, nails on a blackboard, wet fingers on cotton wool.
Today it has become unbearable and so I sit here, trying to break this silence.

I have ideas swilling round inside and yet it almost hurts to entertain them. 

I have hopes that this post will loosen the odd bar, enough at least for a piece of me to slip through.

"Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death."
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Swiss political philosopher and essayist"

Friday, 1 March 2013

Redundant - A reflection

  1. No longer needed or useful; superfluous.
  2. (of words or data) Able to be omitted without loss of meaning or function.
superfluous - unnecessary - needless - excessive - spare
woman on phone
It's Bad News I'm Afraid
You've been made 

a haze
empty space
where words were

Of Course You'll be Paid
... sentences fade

RE - DUN-dnt



So Sorry
she says.

Later I thought
outside the daze
I'm out of a job
but I haven't fought 
this long
this hard
to be 
I'll leave dun
and duh nt
take the re

re start
    re view
        re fresh
           re new

Thank you.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Eating Disorders Awareness - One Truth About Anorexia

I'm conscious that it's National Eating Disorders Week. 
I'm also conscious that much of my writing here has borne witness to my own, very personal, struggle with Anorexia and that, whilst there are many apparent similarities between sufferers, each and every person has their own 'strain' of the illness. 
I recently watched a BBC documentary by a now recovered minor celeb who, having suffered from Anorexia in her youth, embarked upon a quest to find out 'The Truth about Anorexia'. I watched with a  degree of cynicism, (typical of me) because the results of this exploration were pretty obvious from the outset. 

(Aside) As it happened, I was more intrigued the next day, by the widespread and vicious backlash on various discussion forums, where anorexics ripped the programme, and its celebrity 'investigator', to shreds, claiming that she obviously hadn't been a 'proper' anorexic! 
That would be another topic!

One thing that I've learned from the large number of patients in the treatment centres I've been in, is that there IS no single 'cause' of anorexia. There can be no 'getting to the bottom of it' because it's as shape shifting as the virus for the common cold.  

You think you can spot an anorexic? It's the legs that give it away right? The two pins that, by some miracle, are holding them up. And the face. The way their eyes sink into the skull, dark skin sagging at the ridge of bone which runs from the top of their cheek to the deep line around the mouth.
The clothes that hang baggy off their shoulders. Tired, tiny arms, narrowed, fleshless at the tops. 
Yep. Definitely.
As I type, I sit in Cafe Nero. Couples sit sipping valentines coffee. A barrista sweeps conscientiously, moving the easel with the 'Hot Soup' ad, concentrating on each swish across the tiled floor. A young man sits at his laptop, looking over dark glasses at intervals. 
I'm drinking a one shot Americano with skimmed milk, hot. My make up is immaculate (last time I checked anyway). Subtle grey eyeshadow, a touch of mascara, a little blush. I'm about seven stone; that's forty five kilos to the metric crowd. My clothes are an eight. I've just eaten a Kit Kat. 
Nobody knows I'm anorexic. 
Nobody can see that beneath the recently acquired flesh, a cold skeleton howls, like a forgotten child. Nobody can hear the whispers, the taunting desire to have one of the brownies that the rosy-glow girl to my right is enjoying. Nobody can see the rapid calculations, the figures flicking up and down as I add, divide, add, multiply; 107 calories = my biscuit, 100ml of skimmed milk =  43Kcals x 2 plus a bite of cereal bar. It's too much. How can I compensate at dinner? 
Nobody sees the anorexic who knocks around in a body too large.
I may be sitting near another at this very moment.

I think I've digressed somewhere. 
I set out to illustrate the fact that the one truth about Anorexia I know is that everyone's illness is different.

During inpatient treatment people presented with dangerously low BMIs. But how they got to that point varied. 
Okay, we all have an issue with food. But some anorexics are calorie obsessed, whilst others are more preoccupied with the fat content in foods. 
Some are addicted to exercise (myself included) and can hardly sit down for more than ten minutes without having to get up and do press ups or squats; others can happily lie on a sofa for hours and sleep. 
Some patients have buggered up their system by taking laxatives and/or making themselves sick. Others won't take a tablet, even for a migraine.
Some quake at the sight of a potato because carbs are sworn enemies, others are too afraid to eat a carrot because it has somehow become a 'fear food'. Still more are terrified of dairy products, not touching milk or cheese for years.
I met patients who will 'water load' to throw their weight (water loading is a common but dangerous behaviour practised by eating disordered patients who consume vast quantities of water in order to fake weight gain). Then again, some people are so obsessed with knowing their actual weight that they will wear exactly the same clothes to be weighed. 
Some anorexics are so scared that their body will absorb fat that they won't use cream shower gels or moisturiser on their skin. 
I've met anorexics who drink copious amounts of alcohol, whilst others won't even sniff it.
When I was at my worst, I couldn't drink coffee for fear that it contained hidden calories. I couldn't trust the calorie content on certain labels and so I ruled out anything which I deemed to have 'too few calories to be believed'.
Some people can't watch food programmes, others read cookbooks obsessively and liked nothing better than to cook a three course meal that they could never eat.

Eating Disorders may present similarly, but no one sufferer has the illness in quite the same way, which may be why they are so difficult to treat and why they are still so widely misunderstood.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The writer of this blog...

... has been in hell for the past two months...

perhaps more.

My silence here has been down to the simple fact that my head is mostly a jumble of sounds which don't seem to translate into anything as neat and orderly as WORDS.
It even sounds far fetched to me, but it's one of those 'you just had to be there' things. 
Unless you've been in my shoes (and stomped round and around the same hospital building three times a day for twenty minutes 'fresh air') my ridiculously dramatic sounding excuse for silence just won't wash. 
(Cue Persil ad...)

No really. 

Prompted by a friend to describe what it's like to be restoring weight, I wrote that it's like...

...having your skin peeled off in long strips, and then your body being rolled around on a grater, with pressure being applied in varying degrees in different places
and sometimes
it makes you bleed purple rivers in hidden places
or mouth short 

and other times
anger-fear juices inwardly curdle
with an inverted agony
that leaves me folded on the floor
pressing cold fists into my eyes
to stem the red pain seeping out of my sockets

and in me, a mighty snake twists
my colon, a strangled tree trunk 
and the more I eat
the more it turns and thrashes 
against the raw muscle tubing 

Okay. So every word is wringing with pubescent angst and perhaps the silence, if not golden, is at least preferable to the torture - jargon. 
But this is the truth of it.
This is how it feels for my anorexic head to be growing a body.
And no amount of Seroquel or Pregabalin or Duloxetine is going to make it okay. 

It's not supposed to be a joyride, this recovery lark... but six months in... it hasn't got easier... just...
... different. 

Friday, 4 January 2013