Rewind, rewire

I’m going on a road trip with Fiona tomorrow. I’m really nervous. We went away to Manchester last year, to meet up with some other mutual friends, and I was terribly anxious then too. Last year I was nervous because I hadn’t slept anywhere other than my own bed for about a year because at the time I was still suffering quite badly from agoraphobia. Everytime I left the house I was worried that I would start feeling really sick again – this was about a year after my digestive system decided to quit working on me, and I hadn’t really gotten over it mentally even though cutting out all the food I was allergic to had helped quite a bit physically. I found it amusing that I had a group at the EDU immediately before Fi picked me up, so I had to take all the allergy-friendly food I needed for the weekend along to the group with me. I was sitting there with ten other anorexics and bulimics wondering what they would think if they knew that my backpack was full of gluten free chocolate muffins, marinated butterbeans, rice milk and chocolate marzipan 😛 heh. Actually, the road trip was a lot of fun. We picked up another friend in London and stayed overnight in Manchester, before spending the next day with two other friends. We stayed in the hotel for one more night and then went home again. I was really proud of myself for coping with two nights away from home, and this went a really, really long way towards my recovery from agoraphobia.

I spent from last October until this February living in York, so clearly agoraphobia is not nearly as much a problem as it used to be. I am 95% fine with sleeping in unfamiliar places, although I’m still a little nervous that I might feel sick I do recognise it as being far more of a habitual thought pattern than a likelihood. That’s not why my stomach is in knots. This time it’s not the actual going away that’s the issue, it’s where we’re going.

Background. I met Fiona on a website for people with eating disorders about eighteen months ago. The Manchester trip was a meet up of other people who belonged to this website, and since we both live down south we arranged to go together. We got to know eachother pretty well while we were planning, driving and staying at the hotel. Coincidentally I had just been offered a place at the university of York in four months time, and she was due to start at Durham university a week before my term began – and Durham is only about 45 minutes away from York by train. So we got to share in all the excitement of moving half way up the country, and planned on meeting up a lot while we were up there. Unfortunately, as you know, I started relapsing even before I left for York…and so did Fiona. We both ended up leaving university within weeks of eachother at the start of this year. Oops. I probably would have completely lost my marbles without Fi this winter, but at the same time I wish like hell that she hadn’t had to go through a similar thing.

Anyway. Any guesses where we are going yet? Well. Although I am not going back to university again now – I’m sticking with distance learning via the Open University – Fiona is. She’s going back to Durham in October, and we thought we would go replace some of her crappy memories with nice ones. So tomorrow we are driving up to Durham, spending a couple of days hanging around, seeing the sights and meeting some friends, and then on Wednesday we are going to York for the day.

Argh. I love York, it’s a beautiful city. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve always felt safe there, ever since I first visited on a school trip when I was 10. I went up there on my own five years ago when I was in the midst of PTSD to check out the university and I felt safe in the city then, too, although I didn’t feel safe anywhere at the time. I stayed there overnight again with my ex when I was 20 – we were on holiday in Edinburgh, and due to spend a night in London to go to a concert before heading home. Unfortunately the concert in London was on July 7th 2005 – the day that the London underground suffered a horrific terrorist attack. We were literally half way to Edinburgh station to catch our train when my mum phoned and told us to stay where we were. We couldn’t go back to our hotel because it was booked up, but we managed to get on a train later on in the day and stopped over in York instead. And despite the fact that Britain was under threat from terrorists, I felt safe in York. I always did.

Then I went and fucked it up. York is full of memories of being crazed with hunger now, of desperately wanting to reach out and connect with people but being unable to tell anyone what was going on. Of being colder than I have ever been before, inside and out. Of walking around the city for hours in the snow because I had to burn calories, however exhausted and faint I felt. Of being alone in my room for five months, watching other people in their late teens and early 20s walking to lectures together, going out to the student bars, having snowball fights and not having the energy to get myself out there with them. Of getting sicker than I had ever been in my life, and not having anyone to tell me that I would survive and that things would ever be OK again. Of finally realising that anorexia is an illness, not something I can control and manipulate to cope with my anxiety, just at the point where the downward spiral became far too strong for me to pull myself out of it by myself. It might sound terribly melodramatic but I felt so weak and so ill in the last two weeks before my parents drove up to get me that I thought I might die in York.

I want to go back there, now it’s summer, to replace some of those memories and make it safe again. But I’m scared that it will hurt. I’m not letting that stop me, I’m still going…I’m just scared. I wish I could say that I’m excited too, because it should be a fun week – I am really looking forward to seeing not just Fi again but our other two friends (who will be very glad to see how much better we are than in February 😛 ), and York has an amazing vegan and gluten free restaurant which I would love to go to for lunch or dinner, because I was terrified of the place while I was there – but actually the fear is drowning out all the excitement at the moment. Maybe tomorrow I will be excited.

We think there is an internet connection where we are staying so hopefully I’ll still get some blogging in 😉 but this is the only holiday I’m going to get this year so I hope you won’t hold it against me if I don’t!

Three good things about today:
1. Blogging rocks. I love getting emails from people who say that something I have written has helped them. It makes it feel even more worthwhile than it already did.
2. Packing! I love packing – am I completely crazy?!
3. If I get a move on I will be going to a nice village fair in an hour or so 🙂 summer in the country is fun.

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17 responses to “Rewind, rewire

  1. have fun on your roadtrip! don’t let old ED thoughts bring you down, ok? stay positive and remember how much better it feels to be healthy and nourished. love always, best of luck!
    -lex

    • themilkfreeway

      haha…remembering how much better being healthy feels is NOT going to be a problem 😛 I didn’t mean that this trip would be triggering for the ED, just a bit sad. Still, that’s the whole point, we’re off to replace the sad! Lol I need to stop waffling and go pack.

  2. I hope you and Fiona have uber fun on your road trip! 🙂

  3. howimashpotato

    Have an amazing time on your road trip. I have no doubt that you will be able to create some amazing memories that will hopefully eradicate the ED polluted ones that still exist for now.
    Like Lexi said, keep positive and you will see how much MORE beautiful the world looks when you’re not seeing it through the eyes of a starving person.
    Lots and lots of love (and I am totally keeping Sep 6th FREE by the way! 😉 )
    Jem xxx

  4. I know it’s tough, but I have a good feeling that this trip WILL replace all the negative associations you have with York! The miserable feelings back then were coming from inside yourself, and you’re flowing with many more POSITIVE vibes now, and I know you’ll feel the difference!

  5. Have fun! Sounds like a great trip and a great chance for you to build memories with Fiona, and Fiona to build memories of Durham (good ones!).

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten progressively more anxious about sleeping anywhere besides my bed in the last few years. It’s really bad now. I don’t think it’s agoraphobia, but I don’t know. It feels more OCD-ish. Anyway… glad to hear you got over it!! That gives me hope 🙂

  6. Ummzzz, the website wouldn’t be LB would it?

    anywayz, i have some similar memories of uni (for the very few weeks i was actually there) and of being so isolated, watching through this pane of glass that seemed to be between me and the real world and alternating between wanting to be on the other side and wanting to just die.

    good luck on going to york – you are so much stronger and in a completely different headspace now. you have done a complete 360 and decided to live.

    hope it goes well ❤

    • themilkfreeway

      It would indeed be LB 😉 who are/were you there? I’m curious now!

      • i was active quite a long time (2005-2007 roughly.) ago now – i was littlegirl. what was your username?

        i have to admit i’m glad i left. great girls, but woahhh, not exactly great for recovery.

  7. Have a lovely time! I used to live in Harrogate, it is gorgeous around York…I hope you have a brilliant time and that those horrible thoughts and memories stay out of the way x 🙂

    I’m commenting on two at once lazily! You have a river in your back garden – wow! Cool! Sorry about the bug bite though! My mum is allergic to midge bites, we went to Scotland and camped by a lake once, she woke up after the first night and although it was painful for her, it was mighty hilarious. That’s all I’m going to say. 😀

  8. Oh your experience at uni sounds just like mine! I think this trip sounds like it could be really good for you, although it will bring back some painful memories, your in a different place now in your life so you can work on putting those past you and making some really good new ones.
    York does look really beautiful, have a fab time, I cant wait to hear how you get on!
    xox

  9. Thank you a million times for your comment on my last post ~ you don’t know how much it means to me to have someone who doesn’t think that I’m a complete freak for hating crowded clubs and bars. The sheer fear and mental energy required not to have a panic attack alone would burn me out too.

    Eek, if I’d known you liked them I could have sent you the Banana Bread Nakd Bar from my sample pack rather than going through the trauma of eating it again lol ; )

    Durham is a beautiful city (town?) very close to where I live ~ it’s so picturesque and a wonderful mixture of old and new architecture. The Cathedral in particular is spectacular and there are some wonderful walks along the river (watch out for midges though!) They’ve got some rowing boats out for hire at the moment and it’s so calming just to hire one and row down the river in the sunshine. Me and my Mum used to have such a laugh trying to co-ordinate the oars before her joints deteriorated too much for her to do it. I hope you have a brilliant time and that Fiona has all the success she deserves at Durham Uni. I had an offer to go there too, but it was for straight English and I was desperate to pursue a degree with a creative element.

    Enjoy your trip and here’s to replacing bad memories with good ones ~ you’re so brave for going back to York and I totally admire your spontenaiety and strength in facing your fears and going on this road trip.

    oxoxoxoxo

    *ooh* And what is the restaurant in York called? I might be going there soon and I’d love to find somewhere with food I can actually eat! Thanks in advance : )

    • themilkfreeway

      The restaurant is called El Piano, and it’s really good – they are used to catering for people with all sorts of allergies, so not only is ALL the food both gluten free and vegan, they coped fine with my yeast and soya problems. I went there once when my mum came to visit. If I lived in York now I would go there every week 😛

  10. I hope you have a truly wonderful time on your road trip Katie! It sounds like it will be full of challenges but also full of fun, so don’t let fear spoil it for you 🙂 you deserve to enjoy yourself.
    Cant wait to hear how it went! xoxo

    ps Hope you choose something yummy at that restaurant 😉

  11. Have a great time on your road trip… I think it’s incredibly brave of you to set out to replace some of the bad memories with good ones.

    If you love packing, you can do it for me!! Seriously… I’m fantastic at packing for other people, but I turn into a total wreck when I have to do it for myself. :p

    ❤ ❤

  12. rediscoveringlauren

    hi hun,
    aww roadtrip 🙂 yay! have fun! I think its so fantastically brave of you to step outside your comfort zone….and im sure youll have the best time! i cant wait to hear all about it!!
    xxxx

  13. Lovee, have a brilliant time in york and big it up for the rest of us lol. Glad to hear your still doing great. Own those memories 😛
    much love xxx

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