Something that Jemima wrote yesterday inspired this post. She was saying that another one of her friends that she met in IP has had to be readmitted, and this makes her feel really guilty that she’s doing well. I’ve felt like this so many times before – like somehow, although I know logically that anorexia is an illness and recovery puts you back in control, gaining weight feels shameful. Like doing well doesn’t mean that I am strong or courageous, it just means that I am a ‘failed anorexic’, that I couldn’t hack being at a low weight, or maybe that I was never really ill at all.
I’ve been a member of online communities for people with eating disorders since I was 16 years old, and I’m nearly 25 now. In this time I’ve known hundreds of people to say the same things that I’ve thought. That although recovery sounds like the ‘right’ horse to back, gaining weight makes them feel ashamed, guilty and like a fake. Well, I have decided that if the majority of people with eating disorders think these things regardless of whether they weigh more or less than me, however extreme their behaviours are, however many times they have been in hospital, however long they have spent at a low weight, however many years they have lost to this illness, then it is clearly bollocks. So, I am declaring myself proud to be a ‘failed’ anorexic. My goal, in fact, is to eventually be the worst anorexic there is. I am going to do things every day which make me a crap anorexic, such as:
– not weighing my snacks (I should be a good enough judge of nut butter portion size by now)
– eating an extra biscuit before I go to bed if I’m hungry even if I’ve met my calorie requirements for the day
– occasionally eating things which have no nutritional value whatsoever just because they taste good (gluten free chocolate muffins anyone?)
– pushing myself to continue gaining to a healthy weight rather than stopping at the lowest acceptable point
– eating all of my meals and snacks even if I’ve gained rather more than expected one week
– not doing my Pilates DVD every day
– having a couple of days a week where I just sit around and relax
– telling my therapist about any anorexic thoughts which are causing me particular hassle
– listening to my therapist, GP and family rather than the anorexic thoughts
– not reading eating disorder porn (I have only been half successful with this so far, I really need to stop completely, it makes me feel on par with an alcoholic who doesn’t drink but keeps going to bars anyway)
– eating with or in front of other people
– not panicking if I can’t eat what/when I planned
– and…I’m sure you guys can think up some more 😉
Anyone else want to join me? No pressure, I’d be quite happy to be a terrible anorexic on my own 😛 But maybe you would like to enter into the spirit of things by just doing one thing today that really says ‘fuck you’ to your eating disorder. Or maybe you could start even smaller by doing something which says ‘excuse me, I’m not entirely sure you’re right’ to the eating disorder, because not everyone is as foul mouthed as me!
As the cliché goes, the only successful anorexic is a dead one. And I’m not even 25 yet. Since I finished my A levels five years ago I’ve dropped out of university four times (three different courses, one of them twice), twice due to depression and twice due to the eating disorder. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve dropped out of life itself, my world has shrunk so much. But the only thing I plan to abandon unfinished in the future is the anorexia itself.
Three good things about today:
1. I got my monthly astronomy magazine today and read three quarters of it straight away. It’s wonderful to be able to concentrate on things like that again.
2. In a repeat performance of yesterday’s tofutti and peanut butter revelations, I have discovered that I really like banana and peanut butter. This is bizarre, because I’ve never liked peanut butter or bananas (I have been training myself to like bananas, and I must admit that they are good microwaved or in porridge) on their own, but together they are rather wonderful. I think my mouth has been possessed or something, it’s all very out of character!
3. Session with Julie tomorrow. With all the various assessments and questionnaires she’s been giving me as homework, we have a very long list of things to discuss!
Disclaimer: I am quite aware that anorexia is an illness, not something it is genuinely possible to win or lose at 😛 I’m just trying to turn the logic-free thought patterns around on themselves. I like to mess with the eating disordered thoughts. God knows it’s messed with my head for long enough.