Under pressure

Trigger – numbers in the first paragraph. None after that though.

These last three months have proved to me exactly why gaining to a BMI of 20 is such a good idea for people in recovery from anorexia. If I’d stopped at 18.5 I’d be in a much worse situation by now. As it is, because I am well-practised in the art of capitalising on the times when I am not feeling sick or stressed beyond belief, I have actually still not gone under a BMI of 19. I was dead on 19 this morning, in fact, when I finally bit the bullet and jumped onto Jonathan’s scales. At 5’5 that means I’m exactly 6lbs off of a BMI of 20, 8lbs less than my highest weight of this year and 11lbs under my more recent self-imposed target. This is not a disaster. We can rebuild, etc.

I’m getting much better at catching myself before things get out of hand. I spent most of last week fighting off much more intense ED/SI related thoughts than usual, but still forcing myself to eat whenever possible (including getting through several gluten free chocolate muffins, my usual calorie-intake-enhancing product of choice). I was feeling really vulnerable and panicky on Saturday night, but writing about it and spending time with Jonathan yesterday calmed me down a bit. I am trying to keep things in perspective. I struggled last week because I am under a lot of stress, and over the last month or so my anxiety levels have skyrocketed and my mood has sunk lower and lower. In the past, every time I’ve relapsed into my eating disorder, it’s always been precipitated by a few months of quite severe depression and/or anxiety. Each time I made a big effort to hang on for as long as possible, but eventually slipped back into the eating disorder because I genuinely felt like I was losing my mind, and restricting made me feel so much more stable and calm.

Last week in particular I have been becoming more and more alarmed by my mood. I keep bursting into tears for no reason (which is a relatively new thing – up until about this time last year I rarely ever cried), and I have been having trouble with an old problem of becoming so anxious that it almost tips into paranoia before I go to sleep. I have been using relaxation techniques and sorting out my thoughts as rationally as possible, but it does get extremely tiring having to police my brain like this. And I’ll be honest – I’m terrified of becoming very depressed again. What’s going on now is moderate compared to how severe the depression has become in the past. If there is one thing that scares me more than dying, it is becoming so unwell that I lose touch with reality and lose control over my mind. I always believed that I would rather starve to death than go crazy, and that is essentially what caused every last one of my previous relapses. I was trying, misguidedly, to protect myself.

Yesterday I felt really awful. On top of the behavioural urges I was having flashbacks as well, which isn’t a very common occurrence these days. I know what caused it and I’m not avoiding the trigger, because it’s something I don’t want to ‘lose’ to the PTSD. It’s already stolen too much from me. But it wasn’t making things easier. I’m worrying about next month already as well – I’m due to move out on November 20th, which is three days before the-day-which-we-do-not-refer-to-as-an-anniversary. Although the remnants of my PTSD don’t usually give me much trouble throughout the rest of the year, so far I have yet to get through late November without the nightmares and flashbacks starting up again. It’s not that I consciously dwell on it, it’s just all the associated triggers for memories around this time of year. I’ll be stressed out enough by moving out, I’m not sure how the PTSD will respond to that added vulnerability.

So here’s my plan. I have several problems, some of which can be dealt with, some of which must be accepted and worked around. I have to move out. That’s fine, I am seeing someone from the citizen’s advice bureau about that tomorrow, and I’m confident that the practicalities are managable. I have to sort out my financial situation. I have people helping me with that too – thank God for the CAB, I’d be lost without them. My mood is low and my anxiety is high. I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow so I can ask for extra help, and I’ve been in contact with a low-cost therapy service in the city to see if I can possibly work it into my already tight budget. I am finding it hard to cope with all of this by myself. Hopefully – although I absolutely will not rely on anyone too much, because that is not healthy – Jonathan will be around a bit more this week, and I do have friends I can talk to. I’m mostly crippled by my pride, in that I am very reluctant to ask for help, in case people look down on me. I am getting quite good at prioritising safety over pride though.

My weight is not endangering my health at this point, but I do want to gain weight. I need a bit of a creative approach to this, because I have developed an absolute terror of going into the kitchen at home. I don’t want to run into either of my housemates. I don’t want to spend any more time than necessary around them because I can’t deal with any more confrontation or stress at the moment. I often work around this by cooking when they are out at work, but one of them works shift patterns and I can’t always predict when she’ll be out. I can’t rely on ready to eat food to decrease the time I need to spend in the kitchen, both because it is expensive and because my allergies make it difficult to find things that don’t make me ill. I eat okay when I’m with Jonathan, but at home I am a panic stricken crazy lady. It’s only five weeks until I can move, but those five weeks could do a lot of damage to my health if I didn’t stay on top of this. Any ideas would be appreciated. This is a situation in which I wish I could afford and was not allergic to many of the ingredients in common supplement drinks, but I can’t and I am, so I’ll have to think of something else.

Oh God, I can’t wait until I have my own flat/house. I can’t do this house sharing thing. Maybe with a friend or with Jonathan one day, but not with strangers. It ALWAYS ends like this – with me terrified to leave my bedroom. Sigh.

Finally, I woke up on Sunday morning to lots of lovely messages of support, and one facebook status in my honour, by someone freaking out and insisting that recovery wasn’t possible (definitely not a coincidence, believe me). I was not happy. I very much hope that no one out there is using me as a negative influence. I am not proof that relapse is inevitable. For a start, I’m struggling but I’m not giving into it, and at any other point in my life this amount of stress would have broken my resolve completely. After three months of frequent viruses, severe IBS, having to move house twice, fucked up finances and very little support it is not much short of a miracle that I have managed to keep my weight in the healthy range. Secondly, I am not every recovering anorexic in the world. I am not some sort of representative for recovery. There are hundreds of people out there who overcome this illness. Fortunately for them, they go on to live their lives, rather than spending all their time online or in treatment centres, so of course we don’t come across them as often as we come across people who are struggling. One day I will be one of them, but if I was as sorted out and stable as I wanted to be, I wouldn’t still have this blog. So please, lets not have any more references to my situation on facebook, even if you don’t name me I am going to notice and be hurt. It’s not very tactful or factually correct to use me as proof that recovery is impossible. That’s utter bollocks and I will prove you wrong. You might want to give me a bit longer than the 18 months I’ve been trying so far though. It takes time to rebuild your life from scratch.


9 responses to “Under pressure

  1. I just want to say that I think you really are doing a great job recovery wise. And I would have referred to you as recovered mostly if not completely. I don’t know why someone would refer to you as being an example of why recovery isn’t possible.

    You’re managing to get by on your own now, and making sure you stay in a healthy weight range. Just getting there is hard enough, but taking the precautions to keep yourself there is smart and an inspiration!

    Hope the living arrangements work out! And maybe try to just eat shelf foods that don’t need to be cooked to store in your room? Just until you can live somewhere else?

  2. Is there a freezer?? Could you cook up batches of Katie-friendly food when people are out (or even over at Jonathan’s, but then you’d have to carry it home), and then freeze it in happy portion sizes? Then you could take it out to defrost earlier in the day, then quickly heat it up. Or make veggie bake type things in those disposable foil things (like takeaway boxes – you can buy them in supermarkets) and then all you have to do is pop it in the oven and bugger off til it’s cooked. I used to make up batches of veggie sheperds pie in them. I’m sure you can concoct some freezer-friendly calorically dense meals 🙂

    I understand you bedroom hiding-ness. It seems I pretty much do that too when living in shared housing. I was so thankful to my cheap £5 morrisons toaster and kettle by the end of last year.

    Erk – sorry to hear about the facebook comment. That is ridiculous!! Not to mention highly insensitive.

  3. *YOUR bedroom hiding-ness…..thankful FOR my …
    gah…I swear I’m literate. I think my lurking flu-bug is just decomposing my brain 😛

  4. diamondintherough

    The facebook comment thing is tactless, insensitive and just plain WRONG.
    You’re inspiring, you really really are. I can’t describe how proud of you I am, even though, you know… I don’t actually know you. :p
    I completely understand the hiding in your bedroom thing, I live at home atm but I don’t like being in the kitchen when my mum’s home.
    Michal xx

  5. top tip: come see me and we will go eat lots of food 😛
    lol ok er, seriously….drink energy drinks! supplement substitute! well, not the fizzy kind cause I know you don’t like fizz but I can’t imagine some Lucozade Sport (it’s flat) or other non-carbonated ones in your room would go amiss (Tesco etc do their own brands more cheaply). or fruit juice, aren’t there some of those you drink? other non-cooking things…crisps, mints, your stash of chocolate? haha ok these are turning into ‘eat like Fi’ ideas 😛 but they work and are yum and low effort/not requiring a kitchen. munching constantly is always good.
    aside from that, I was glad to see you and catch up, I hope the next month or so goes ok and you get through it without things getting worse. don’t panic – ups and downs happen, I guess the most important thing is not to let your thoughts get ahead of you…if you keep the right attitude weight/food will sort itself out imho.

  6. (firstly, I’m sorry that I’m way behind on blog reading and missed sending you cyberhugs and strength on your last post. You get extra this time… ;))

    In brief, you are amazing and inspiring and I admire the fact that – in spite of it all – you’ve got resolve to deal with things and put plans into place to deal with difficulties.

    Seriously, you are being dealt an immense amount of crap at the moment and with your past problems and medical issues aggravated by the shit circumstances you find yourself in, it’s no wonder you’ve felt low. You shouldn’t be expected to act like some Invincible Super Recovery Warrior Queen so forget that because it’s irrelevant bullshit and unnecessary pressure. Distance yourself from the draining and detrimental stuff as much as you can (which by the sounds of it you are doing), hold on to the self-belief and the strength that you know you have and – mist importantly, perhaps – go easy on yourself.

    You are lovely, you are smart and aware and you deserve a break. Big hugs and all power to you,Katie. Reach out whenever you need and remember: there is hope…

    James x 🙂

    (add some extra hugs, good vibes and a ‘whoop whoop!’ from the other side of the Pennines)

  7. Just wanted to say that I totally hear you on the finding it almost impossible to let people help for fear of being talked down to/patronised, etc. Even in treatment I am like that! I do let people help, but not for anything I can remotely do myself (most things). I find that it’s the thought of asking for or letting people help rather than when they actually do help. It’s the anticipation, for me. I want to slap anyone who comes near me. I often feel like an animal in a corner injured but ready to attack anyone who comes near me to help, as if I don’t understand what they’re doing. Of course I don;t attack and I do understand, but it just makes me feel RAWR.

    I’m not sure how helpful that was, but I want you to know that I understand something of the horror of allowing others to help – particularly in light of people’s responses in the distant past. Wish i could help. I don’t have any brainwaves in terms of eating, I’m afraid. I like Fi’s suggestions as an interim plan. Think of yourself as a squirrel preparing for winter; in your case for battle. x

  8. Hi,

    I noticed my comment on your last post did not make it past moderation – I am very sorry if anything I said came across as inconsiderate or rude. I think that considering your circumstances you are dealing very well with everything and I greatly admire how honest you are with yourself. I too struggle with letting people help me, but it gets better the more you do it as you mentioned and most people love helping others anyway 😉

    Love, Dame Noire

  9. OMFG if you could imagine how much I relate to you when it comes to the house sharing situation. I also panic about the ideia of eating with my other house mates while I’m at the kitchen, so I always wait til their gone to cook something for me. Two of the girls are college students but spend a lot, and I really mean a LOT, time at home…speccially in the kitchen chatting, since we have no living room! And the other girl works in shifts, just like me… So it’s very difficult for me to find “cooking friendly time” for me to cook something up to eat. Plus, I’m trying to eat as healthy as I can, so I don’t want to rely on stuff like cookies or chocolate to replace the calories that I’m not taking in in “better” food choices, do you know what I mean?

    I also find my self locked in my room and don’t want to leave… I’m isolating myself more and more and I’m feeling more depressed from day to day.
    I’m having an hard time being far away from my family, and a lot of stuff have been happening in the last few months and I’m finding it really hard to have to deal with it all by myself, and my weight has been decreasing as the time goes by =\

    Anyway, I should be commenting your post and not talking about myself, so what I really wanted to say is that I totally understand your situation and I’m sure it’s being hard for you, but you’ll end up finding a solution, I’m sure =)

    Good luck with the upcoming house moving situation, I hope everything will work out for you.

    Ciao, Su

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