You know what hope is?
Hope is a bastard.
Hope is a liar, a cheat, and a tease.
Hope comes near you, kick it’s backside –
Got no place in days like these
Picture Window, Ben Folds and Nick Hornby
I downloaded the album with that song on it this morning and I thought the quote was appropriate, just so my blog can have two differing opinions of hope in one day.
So I was sitting there in my bedroom at 10.30pm, freezing cold and unmistakably hungry. Most of the time I didn’t feel identifiable hunger, so it was easy to pretend that I just wasn’t eating because I forgot, or because my digestive problems were making me feel sick – but this time I was definitely hungry. I’d spent the day walking whilst an internal battle of numbers and insults had played out in my head. Twelve hours of the previous day had been hiding spent in my room, refreshing various websites and wishing I wasn’t such a fuck up. I knew exactly what was happening but I really did not want to admit it to myself. The regression from recovery to relapse was clear in hindsight – I could have charted the way that a gentle loss of ground turned into a landslide, stuck pins in the defining moments. But I never saw them for what they really were at the TIME, that was the problem. By the time I finally noticed the damn thing had taken over my brain again and I felt like an alcoholic who had just accidentally ingested a double vodka. Ashamed but intoxicated, and desperately wanting to put off the moment of confession for a couple of drinks longer.
I knew that eating disorders were tenacious and often chronic illnesses, but I was stubborn and had wanted and aimed for more than that. What seemed to be my undoing with each relapse was the fact that there always came a point where I began to underestimate my adversary. See, every time I went through the process of recovery I eventually reached a stages where I felt invincible, like I really understood the illness now and I couldn’t possibly be tricked again. I had too much to lose. Then something would happen to rob me of my appetite – a stomach bug, stress, whatever – and I wouldn’t eat as much for a few days. I could bounce back from one little trigger like that, but if it happened again I would struggle a bit more. If it kept on happening, after a few weeks I would slowly find myself beginning to capitalise on it. Beginning to feel safe and comforted and tranquilised, and wanting to make it last just a little longer. What more had I ever wanted than for my head to be quiet? And what had ever worked more efficiently than anorexia? Every attempt at recovery felt like an uphill battle, with the positive being that it was incredible for my self esteem to find that I COULD cope without it. My life was so much richer and more fulfilling when I was well. The sticking point was the coping part. Life never got any easier. It became more interesting, and in a rational state of mind I would insist that it was a worthwhile pay off – in return for being able to live my life I would accept the price of having to fight hard to keep my life-long problems with anxiety in check. Things became more complicated when I found myself not in a rational state of mind. When I was weakened by illness or stress, and the quick fix called to me. There is nothing glamorous or desirable about addictions or eating disorders, but equally there is no escaping the fact that every time I relapsed, it felt right. Like coming home. Like anorexia and my fucking stupid anxiety-ridden brain were made for each other.
If I was honest, I was never really all that surprised when I turned around one day and realised that once again I was more disordered than not. Because that was me, wasn’t it? I fucked things up time and again. If there was one thing that I believed about myself, it was that I was too weak to survive and that I was destined for chronic illness or premature death. But other people always seemed shocked, even angry with me. It didn’t fit with their picture of me. How the fuck I ever managed to give out the impression that I was strong and capable I have NO idea, but every time I’ve reached one of those points in my life when I had to give up trying to pretend that I was coping, I’ve had the same reaction.
And the thing is, I’ve written most of this in the past tense, because it would have applied to me at so many different points in my life. When I had to drop out of my A levels the first time, when I relapsed after I was raped, when I left Cardiff, when I ended up in hospital in 2007, when I stopped trying to fight the weight loss during my digestive problems later that year, and when I went to York. I could have written those exact words to describe the exact same experiences for each time I repeated the cycle of relapse and recovery.
But this isn’t a page out of one of my old journals. This is what is going on in my head right now. That first paragraph is a description of today.
I debated on whether to make this private or to disable the comments, but I’ve always been open and honest on my blog and I’ve always insisted that I blog for myself, no one else. I am not going to pretend that I’m fine to save face. But please don’t give me advice. I know what to do…I just don’t appear to be doing it at the moment.