Your body is a (derelict) temple.

I have to tell you, you’re probably best off not reading this. I’m having a bit of a ranty day.

I had a really awful night last night. My digestive system was playing up AGAIN. It felt like I’d eaten something I have an intolerance to. There was a lot of cramping and unpleasantness involved, but the worst symptom is this hollow, sick, sucking feeling in my abdomen which feels almost exactly the same as incredibly intense hunger. Only eating something makes it worse rather than better so there’s nothing I can do but wait it out, and it takes HOURS to settle down. It’s like my body is punishing me for starving it – well, you beat me up for years, now I’m going to torture you right back. The empty feeling hurts more than the cramps, it’s excruciating and it seems to be the one thing that can actually make me cry at the moment. I was lying there at 1am all itchy and uncomfortable, with my heart beating too fast and my digestive system feeling like it was full of emo butterflies with razor tipped wings, crying into my pillow. Fabulous. Just fabulous.

Needless to say, I woke up in a bit of a bad mood. Not irritable, not anxious, I could have dealt with either of those – I woke up feeling really, really depressed. You know that sort of depression which feels almost more like a really bad case of flu rather than something psychological? Like you are all heavy, aching and slowed down, and everything you try to do takes a hundred times more effort than usual. I still made my damn breakfast and ate it sitting in the conservatory with the sun shining on me, but I felt so limp and despondant. My first reaction to this sort of thing is always to start shouting at myself – oh for God’s sake, don’t be so fucking pathetic, get off your butt and DO something, don’t just sit there. What the hell is moping about and crying going to achieve?!

Shouting at myself isn’t going to achieve anything either though. It’s not exactly likely to make me feel better! If the answer was as simple as thinking ‘by golly I’ve been an idiot, I will get dressed right away and smile and act like a normal person!!’ then you can bet that I would have done so by now. Probably about ten years ago, in fact.

A combination of waiting it out and distracting myself meant that I was feeling a bit better by mid-afternoon anyway. I think it was partly to do with whatever the hell I’ve eaten which has stopped me sleeping and driven me to tears for the last three nights. I’m wracking my brains to think what it might be. My top three suspects at the moment are the pea protein powder (I’m intolerant to lentils, and they are related to peas), the vegan chocolate spread (could possibly be contaminated with milk, these things happen) or the vitamins I’ve been taking. No pea protein powder for me today. If it happens tonight and I don’t end up jumping out of my bedroom window in the bid for unconsciousness I will have to try eliminating something else. I fucking hate this, I really do. My diet is already so restricted – eating a weight gain diet with my intolerances and allergies is really hard and requires a ridiculous amount of preparation and effort, I don’t need any more hassle.

After lunch I started doing some exercises in a depression workbook I have. I have a bit of a workbook addiction if you haven’t guessed by now 😛 this is a good one anyway, it was written by a woman who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder decades ago and has dedicated her life to studying what works to get and to keep people suffering from mood disorders well. My CPN suggested it last year. There’s a heavy emphasis on taking responsibility for your mental health, which I am absolutely all for. The saying ‘you save yourself or remain unsaved’ is completely true, particularly once you are over 18. This is really rammed home by the adult mental health services. Take the eating disorder services as an obvious example. In the UK people are usually only admitted as inpatients to eating disorder units if their BMI goes under 13.5 or they are purging so much they are at risk of organ failure. That’s only true for the first hospitalisation though, and maybe the first relapse. I know several people, but one friend in particular, who is only admitted to our local EDU when her BMI hits 10-11, and she is usually discharged at 13.5. The day programme won’t take people under a BMI of 14 so she is left essentially without treatment until she loses enough weight to have to be admitted again. This time when I was re-referred to the EDU I was told to go home and start gaining weight before they would put me on the waiting list for the day programme too. They need people to prove their commitment to recovery after their first strike out.

I can see the rationale for this, obviously. The NHS doesn’t want to waste money on people who are just going to relapse when there are other people, less entrenched in their illnesses, who might respond better to treatment and stay well. People with chronic eating disorders are often put on harm minimisation plans aimed at maintaining a BMI of 15-16, told that they have to manage their conditions rather than hope for recovery. The nurse I see at the EDU actually tried to talk me out of aiming to gain back to a BMI of 19-20. Fucking hell, eh? There’s not much else you can say to that. I have also been told repeatedly by my psychiatrist (who I’ve flat out refused to see for the last eighteen months) that I will never recover, I will just have to learn to live with my anxiety and depression. This is the same man who, at an appointment I had when I was absolutely desperate and suicidal a couple of years ago, because the repeated med changes I’d been through over the last six months had messed my brain chemistry up so much that I’d been constantly dizzy and sick and unable to eat or sleep for weeks, said ‘Well I don’t know what you expect me to do’. I’m sure it’s not right for people to leave appointments with mental health professionals feeling MORE suicidal, is it?!

I know that there is no magic cure for mental illnesses, and that no one can stop you from killing yourself, hurting yourself or starving yourself to death if you are really determined to do so. But at the same time, why are people labelled as unwilling to fight off their illnesses, judged, stigmatised and dismissed as hopeless, when the difficulty sticking to recovery is a symptom of that illness? There’s such a contradiction. On one hand we are told that there is a significant genetic component to eating disorders, that anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness and that only one third of sufferers ever recover fully – but on the other, many people with eating disorders are treated like they are just being stubborn, willful, ungrateful, attention seeking, and hopeless if they relapse. I wonder if someone should suggest that it’s the treatment that is deficient rather than our characters.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. I’m thinking of a story I read in the papers six months or so ago. A woman inherited a house from her father, but included in the deeds was ownership of a local church. The church was in desperate need of repair, and it was a listed building so they had a legal duty to make sure that the church didn’t fall down. She had to essentially choose between virtually bankrupting herself to get the church sorted out, or being taken to court for failing to look after the damn thing and being forced to pay anyway. The church was her responsibility. She hadn’t asked for it, hadn’t done anything to deserve this problem, she couldn’t afford it, but no other bugger was going to pay for it so the case was dragged through the courts for nearly 20 years. I feel similarly short changed sometimes. Many members of my family have mental health problems, from depression to OCD to eating disorders and alcoholism, so there is obviously some dodgy genetics going on in there somewhere. I also had the environmental triggers: I was bullied at school when I was a child and raped at 18.

None of those things are my fault, but I still have to deal with the consequences. I have to motivate myself to get and stay well when the primary symptom of depression is a loss of motivation, energy and pleasure. I have to carry on eating, try and talk myself out of low moods, pay for my own therapy, cope with my ridiculous digestive system, and somehow try and become a functioning member of society, all while physically and mentally depleted. If I do get seriously depressed I am told that there is nothing anyone can do for me, since I respond so badly to medications and I’ve had lots of therapy already. When I left York earlier this year I thought I was doing the responsible thing by asking for help and not waiting until I was carried away on a stretcher under a court order, but I was treated like I was wasting everyone’s time and wasn’t worth the effort. We are all told constantly that it is our responsibility to recover and stay recovered, and it’s true, no one can do it for us and I certainly don’t think that anyone ELSE should have to take care of me – but, at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful brat, sometimes also I feel that it’s incredibly unfair that I have to put in all this effort, go through all this pain, work ten times harder than most people just to maintain a basic level of functioning, because of something which isn’t my fault and which I will have to live with to some extent for the rest of my life. In the face of that sort of shit it’s rather tempting to give up on this living business as a bad job.

I can’t decide whether the overwhelming emotion is anger at the injustice or shame at feeling angry and like I must sound like a child having a tantrum at the moment.

Anyway. Having gotten that out of my system (it didn’t really make me feel any better either, which just goes to show that my mum is right, whinging doesn’t make things go away. Damn it!)…

Three good things about today:
1. I planted some more sprouts earlier, just alfafa and broccoli this time – I think the radish gave me heartburn! I like watching things grow 🙂
2. On the subject of growing things, I am very much looking forward to planting some carrots when we get some more compost. They are spherical parmex carrots – have a look at that photo, it’s really funny!
3. On my walk earlier I heard a cuckoo. Despite living in the country all my life I still find things like that a novelty.

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8 responses to “Your body is a (derelict) temple.

  1. rant away Katy- most of my rants are triggered at least partially by sleep deprivation and what you went through last night sounds horrendous. Pea protein sounds like a likely culprit since they are so linked to lentils (especially split peas which I would assume pea protein comes from given it’s protein content). I hope tonight goes better for you… :/You make an EXCELLENT point about not asking for this and yet somehow having to deal with that. The story about the church is horrible, as are mental (or any!) illness. We play the cards we are dealt and hope that we come out stronger in the end…I totally hear you on the NHS thing. I’ve been doing a “damage control/harm reduction” program since I was 20 and am repeatedly told I should give up even thinking about recovery because it’s not going to happen. It’s particularly bad in Scotland because there are a total of 8 inpatient adult ED beds so there is no WAY somebody who is labelled as “chronic” would ever get one. My official care plan is similar to your friends, except that I go into a medical ward instead of an EDU if it gets to that point. Which I won’t let happen ever again.Hope you manage to have a good night’s rest (and check my blog tomorrow for pictorial evidence of my butter beans! 😛 )

  2. I can deinately understand where you are coming from. I feel there are a lot of people that don’t reach out for help or make half-assed attempts to get help. And then there are those that reach out for help and find help without a problem. Then there’ the reaminder: those desperately reaching out for help but can’t find any. I feel like it’s so fucking unfair that everyone says ED are metnal and psychological as well as physical so for the past year I have tried to see a therapist that KNOWS what they are doing. And I still haven’t found one. I have been told to meditate, pray ad admit that I am powerless. All of which I don’t consider to be any help.It’s really just not fair at all. But it’s up to us to keep fighting. I truly believe God doesn’t throw anything our way that we can’t handle. Take Care!

  3. Yay for planting! I can never plant things because they die on me D: I hope you feel happier after ranting here, because letting it all out makes things alot better. Have a great day! ^_^

  4. I really do think there’s a connection between depression and stomach issues. I finally went to the dr today about my stomach stuff. He ordered a lot of tests. He thinks I could have Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. Great. In any case, since my stomach problems, I wake up feeling really blah, like, “Where the FUCK is my serotonin?!” I feel better as the day progresses, but I totally relate. Mental illness is a bitch. It takes a lot of effort to fight it, but I think it’s worth it. Has to be.

  5. Cacti Don't Cry

    Rant all you like… life is NOT fair, and nobody says we can't COMPLAIN about that! So long as we DON'T just sit back complacently because, well, life is not fair. Nobody asks for this. (Well, okay, some people do, but that's because they don't know what it is they're requesting!!)I'm sorry about the issues you're having because of your intolerances / allergies… I can't even imagine how difficult that must be for you!<3 ❤ ❤

  6. Whew! You weren’t kidding about having a ranty day 😉 It’s all good, you always have interesting things to rant about lol! THAT IS CRAZY about the ED treatment in the UK. I’ve heard that they are really inefficient about helping people with EDs and basically tell them they’re not sick enough to get help, when it would be SO MUCH more business smart to help people before they get so deathly ill. Have they never read any research about EDs? The longer and sicker you get, the more intensive your treatment has to be and the more EXPENSIVE and long lasting it will be! Not to mention the plain ol human decency thing…I know health care is a cutthroat industry but you’d think they might have SOME compassion for people who are struggling from this life threatening disease! If it was cancer, would they WAIT until it metastasized and got so bad that it was virtually untreatable, or would they IMMEDIATELY intervene and take care of the cancer before it spread? I don’t see why mental illnesses are any different! Grr.. Now listen to me, even rantier than you!! haha! But yum, carrots! Can’t wait for them to grow 🙂

  7. rediscoveringlauren

    hi sweetheart, sorry about the tummy pains 😦 ive been having very similar ones! i hope we both feel better soon!rant away love, this is your blog, here for whatever you choose to rant/write about 🙂 the ed treatment in the uk is messed up, so irrational and not something il even go into right now or il end up leaving a book of a post haha.. anyways hun, hope your tummys ok now, have a nice afternoon, much lovexxx

  8. Hey there. I just wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I had no idea serotonin was made in the gut! I hope I get this straightened out soon. I’ll definitely ask you about eating gluten-free if I do have celiac disease. Ugh. I love bread. Oh well… I just want to be HEALTHY! Anyway, thanks!

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