There Is Choice

Trigger Warning: I’m sorry everyone, but this is about self harm. Please be careful.

Away.
Hands pressed flat against the wall, feet apart. Brow bent and braced against the clarity of seeing stars. The urge bulges out from between gritted teeth, escaping in a groan.
It’s coming. The wall is coming –
away.

In the space between myself and the wall, there is choice.
I can never really see it until it dies with the crunch of flesh against plaster. Spinning vision and spiralling thoughts churn up ghosts of dead choices from the pit of my sickening stomach. They are written on the wall in scuff marks.
Ellie is numb to the violence. She watches my limbs arrange themselves and invite the wall to slam against my head, barely raising her voice to warn me of the hell that will engulf the days – weeks – afterwards.

The wall isn’t friendly.
It never comes at me trying to help, it waits for me to go to it.
It is normally grey, or beige, or desert wind. Something neutral, blank, unprovocative. Neither one side of sane or the other: just the line of separation that anorexia is tipping over.

You need to push off.
You won’t be falling backwards. You’ll just be pulling away from a backwards trajectory, backwards.
I might fall into an angry storm, panic sparking at jittering limbs, electric. But I might also break the grip of incarceration. I might buy time for Ellie to find another way out, an exit that isn’t a dead end.

Push it away. That’s what my doctor has asked me to do.
When the monster backs me into the wall, when Anonymous is ready to brand bruises of her ownership across my head, push. Her.
Away.
Say it. Away!
Out I say.
Out, I pray.

There is the choice to push.
Push through the plate.
Push out into the world.
Push away the wall.

There are some things the anorexia pushes too far; things she should never have been pushing in the first place.
My health is one. For a disease so allergic to becoming fat or stupid, her decision to hurl my precious head against the wall and slaughter brain cells in their sleep is staggering. I literally stagger away with it.
People, are another. I am trying to push back against the wall of silence anorexia built around her den. On my days off, there is choice. To let Ellie out for exercise and chase an anorexic routine, or do something different with another person, something equally as tiring.
Ellie is retracing the steps Anorexia took to really push people, even considering rejoining instagram. On her terms of course. I refuse to live behind a screen, when I am working so hard to bring down walls.

Everything tries to hurt, until it chooses not to. The effort is exhausting. The effort, also hurts.
I didn’t choose to hurt myself, just like I didn’t choose osteoporosis, or anorexia. I never chose to inhabit a vacant body; I just needed to get out of my head for a bit.
But in the Now, there is choice.
Even that fact, hurts.

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I’ll Swim

Anorexia survives in small spaces.
The gap in a fork’s prong; an air bubble on stagnant water. The space between the second hand and the clock face: time held just slightly apart, dragging itself through the motions.
I have explored this enclosure, sustained by the promise that one day Ellie will work it out. The escape route: food, fun, and recovery. I will fill this space and burst into the next.
Needless to say, weight gain is a work in progress. When my exams finished, I was faced with a choice. I could explore summer a little: that lonely epoch, that blank slate. Or I could hold my breath, nestle into Anonymous arms, and wait for it to be over. Choosing to try summer on for size was a decision made in desperation: acting on an instinct to remove the threat of boredom.
It was the best decision I have made in my recovery. Summer still doesn’t quite fit: it is too loose, too over-excited; but it complements me. In summer, I have managed to rearrange my limbs, and melt into spaces Anorexia never knew existed.

First, Ellie took me to Manchester.
This is a big place, which my illness managed to make small when she forced me out of university. I sunk under the weight of it all. This time, I returned to swim – and to shut the door behind me.
There were so many versions of myself etched into the pavement. Here, where this happened. Over there, where – do you remember -? The city still carried traces of Ellie occupying so much space.
I waded through the memories with the support of my friend. Without her, I think I would have sunk without trace. She even had me to stay in her student house, not too far from my old one. They all smell the same. It was high ceilinged and decorated with fairy lights. It was cosy: it was a version of the university experience I’ve never had, and grieve for.
Anonymous promised we’d never go back, but I am so glad Ellie did. She can grieve properly now. The image is straight in my mind. I can see clearly what was taken away from me by the illness that won’t let me go, the one that never wanted to let me out of it’s small space.
I also know that I still couldn’t be there. Bitter regret always singed my tongue when I talk of how I was forced into moving university to be closer to my treatment. I now know why it was necessary. Even five years on, I am too little to swim against the great tide of that great city.
The next time I go back, I won’t even be fighting it. I shall ride the waves, my weight carrying me over high waters.

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Enter a caption

After Manchester and various fluctuations of mood around my flat, there was the scary space.

This was a square room: white, scrubbed, rigged with wires. This was a square room with white walls, somewhere outside of my comfort zone: or any zone I could call my own. This was a space that did not belong to me. It did not recognise or understand why I should have to enter it, but enter I did. A bitter capsule of time was crushed and swallowed in pieces; hour after hour washed down with desperate gulps for air, water – news. We stored ourselves in a waiting room, jumping each time my phone sprang to life. Even the screen’s white light horrified me: how dare it shine so bright, yet refuse to share any comfort?
It took four days for the space to close up around us, like a flower at twilight. Every word from the doctors was like petals enveloping us, escorting us out of that space through a door made out of miracles.
I chose to enter in so I could help the person who was trapped there. That was me.
There was room for anorexia in that scary space, but she lingered in the mouth of the doorway. She had never dealt with anything like this before: she didn’t know how to starve off what she could only witness. She watched another illness grip someone else, and had nothing comforting to say. Anonymous entered that unknown space, and adapted to it. I prepared food for my family and bought sustenance in the form of books and newspapers. All I wanted to do was help. It was instinct, a hunger that was beyond even anorexia’s reach.
When it was over, I held my head up high and told my clinician I had coped. Even when my hunger cues were wracked with anxiety and driven away by dread, Ellie forced me to eat as if it were just another day in recovery. The anguish and fear came when the storm had passed. Now out of the scary space, I had to unblock bits of myself slowly. Tears and uncontrollable visions flooded into the days that followed. Of course I blocked them out: I can’t look straight at a problem, if all I can see is my own anorexic shadow.

I haven’t been strong enough to go on a family holiday in over four years. It is a struggle to even break out of the short radius around my flat, let alone commit to a long car journey or flight. I am confined to a routine in a small space: Anonymous self-preservation. Anorexia was never given much chance to consent to a holiday: we tricked her into letting me out for a bit by constructing a plan lovely based on my normal day-to-day routine. I could still lead a restrictive life by the sea.
So I hopped on a train to join my family for a break in Cornwall: my happy place.
I was afraid of this space, because it had no structure. Holidays are meant to be blissful chunks of time: oozing from hour to hour, minutes left out on the beach for the tide to claim. The beauty of a small space is it’s predictability, around which Anonymous can arrange my limbs to frame a meal plan and exercise quota. On holiday, it is rumoured that no such routine can exist.
Mum and Dad made the holiday space comfortable for me. I could come and go, and do what I needed to do. I even squeezed in doing what I wanted to do: I scrunched my toes in the sand. I stood on a headland and listened to the murmuring sea below. I shut my eyes, and remembered all the good times we had had here as a family. The ghosts of previous holidays lingered in various cafes on the beach; they rode the waves on an 8ft surfboard – whilst all my little osteoporotic shell could do was stand by and watch. This wide open space: a holiday; a break – the rolling sea – was heart wrenching. I left it in that open space, still beating, and would like to return to find it again.
Being away inspired Ellie to think for herself, and not rely on anorexic machinations to get through the day. Anonymous was conscious this might lead me to being greedy, so I did spend a lot of time thinking and planning my food. I got through four days eating exactly as I should: no more, no less.

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Slices of heaven

Calorie wise, I did not break my limits. But the actual food bulged over the rim of what I ever thought possible. I was eager to eat the moules Mum made: because we were by the sea. They won’t have been half as calorific as the meal I had planned.
I drank not one, not two, but three glasses of ice cold, crisp white wine. It may have substituted my snacks, but it made Ellie feel very happy. Giggly, even.

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Nothing beats the first sip

Going on holiday broke the routine holding my in place; and I spilled out, flooded with possibility. There was so much of me: so many thoughts so many unmade memories.66879381_2894858577222267_8745554541467926528_n.jpg

Other times, I have been pushed into vast open spaces. My clinician has set me “radically open experiments” to try and challenge the otherwise set belief that I am a terrible person. The first is to refrain from apologising for 4 consecutive hours at work. (Carnage.)
The second was one I set myself: a summer project. After losing yet another opportunity to anorexia – my dream internship for a style magazine – I knew I needed to use my summer in some way to edge closer to a career, when all this is over. I resolved to set up my own style blog, an activity that challenges only Ellie’s social insecurities, rather than anorexic red lines. I have covered each story with footsteps and snacks: perfectly balancing exercise and food to maintain a peaceful ceasefire whilst I do my work. It is not a sustainable space, because if I am only able to harvest stories when anorexia says so, one day I will run out of them. Until then, this is a useful exercise. By approaching people in a crowd, I am asserting myself in my own space. Anchored amongst drops in an ocean.

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Bite me, critical self.

After every push over an anorexic limit, I always have to retreat back into my own reality. Gazing up at the uphill battle with my weight.
I have been waiting to feel it. My thighs breathing on each other, grazing their rippling lips closer and closer. My arms drooping, and grow wings that would never fly. My cheeks oozing over the rim of my eyelids. I would throb, swollen, and unmoving.
The only thing I have felt, was the unmoving. The static paralysis of waiting to be called. Despite all Ellie’s alleged effort: an extra snack ever single day – my weight has not budged. My body still fits into this limited life: but my mind is trapped here. Pacing this small existence, looking for a way to break out.
These small movements between places has opened my eyes if not my mouth. There is too much of me to keep in this small, anorexic pen. Anonymous rode the waves, anchoring my weight firmly in place. But this space is starting to feel more and more as if it were built on sand.

One day, I will simply have to swim.

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Oh and by the way, I ate a Pret baguette. That was pretty scary too.

4000 kcal

20 days have passed since Ellie told my Self we needed to start gaining weight again. The 200kcal increase had a violent birth on the first day, and has since been a hard act to follow – no matter how hard I push.

I should have consumed an extra 4000kcal over the last 20 days.
One 200kcal snack with my morning coffee, everyday. Any bar – a TREK bar; a KIND bar: a bar set at a reasonably low limit to entice myself back onto the path to weight restoration.
The scales in the clinic do not measure determination or promises. They only monitor numbers: and my number was just short of exactly the same as it had been the day I received the news that Anonymous had scavenged what little there was left of my spine, and made my osteoporosis worse.
The number retold my tale of 20 days in the wilderness. I was being lured back onto an anorexic track, without even realising it.

I did some maths, and calculated how many extra calories extra I had really eaten. 2305kcal; without factoring in all those little anorexic discretions Ellie turned a blind eye to. We can’t really blame her: self-destruction isn’t a pretty sight. Osteoporosis has a haunted by disasters that haven’t happened yet. With a crumbling skeleton, there is no structure to hold disorder in place.
It felt safer to let Anonymous pass through every now and then, and do the tough stuff when anorexia was already full of extra exercise, or chewing over a plan.
It means my 4000kcal bar has been shaved down to 2305; plus restrictions.
This is not enough to earn back my weight.
This will never bargain back my periods.
2305 kcal is a story full of holes, just like my bones.

This is harder than I remember.
But I will soon remember this struggle too. A couple of million calories down the line, when my weight is restored and my mind reinstated, I will reform the memory of this time and be grateful for it.
This will be the period that ate into anorexia, burying her bones 200 kcal at a time.

T – 200 kcal

I saw some light.
I need to put on weight. Fast.
If I don’t, it will all become real.

My body is playing dead.
I was confined with an extremity of myself I still don’t understand; but the only way I can run away from it, is to listen to it.
I can still hear that frightened cry: begging my periods to come back.
Please come back: I need you. With your magic hormonal formula to protect my bones, with your warm cycle of predictability my body can rejoin, and orbit – on track.

The shock of my worsening osteoporosis, even after putting on all this weight and drinking all that milk, was traumatising. My mind colonised those porous bones and began haunting my spine with symptoms. I spent three days carrying myself like porcelain, carefully turning my body instead of my head, sinking to my knees instead of bending over. Alone in my flat, these worries solidified into certainty that my spine had already crumbled.
The back pain I’m experiencing since receiving the news was not inflicted directly by osteoporosis, but anxiety. Flying on panic, my muscles have been wracked up to a height and stiffened – petrified. It hurts to sit, it hurts to lie down. Bed has been a torture cell, and the days a torment.

Ellie somehow hatched a rational plan of action amid the chaos.
Science says if I eat an extra 500kcal a day everyday for a week, I should gain 0.5kg in a week. Now, that science is scary. Big – out of control; and I can’t trust it.
So, I am taking a bit of science, as a taster. In the flickering light of what has happened recently, I have decided to eat an extra 200 kcal with my morning snack – without restrictions. I need to see what happens.
I need to see if my body really does love me unconditionally.

Yesterday, I took the first step. I worked my way through a KIND Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt nut bar: 197 kcal of gluey chocolate, almonds crunching like bones. An extra 197 kcal of protein and minerals; an extra 197 kcal to kick my metabolism into action. 197 kcal closer to getting my periods back.

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Stocked up on ammunition

That afternoon, I felt guilt sink to join it in the pit of my stomach. Food preparation was a slow process, a grim negotiation that had me shave only 20 kcal off my afternoon snack. The day passed, the summit melted.
Today was harder. Feeling like I was already failing, clutching a 135kcal snack instead of a ~200kcal one, I confronted a Nakd bar. If Mum and Dad hadn’t been there, I don’t think I would even have opened the wrapper. Anonymous was there at the table, gritting her teeth. Anorexia’s gaze is crushing, but I broke it.
An hour later, it felt good. The intensity of the moment had diffused, and I could think clearly about why I need to eat, why I need to put on weight. It’s the first thing Anorexia casts her shadow over: the threat closest to the ground on which she treads.
So yes: two days in, and struggling.
But struggling into the next day nonetheless.

The back pain I’m experiencing since receiving the news was not inflicted directly by osteoporosis, but anxiety. Flying on panic, my muscles have been wracked up to a height and stiffened – petrified. It hurts to sit, it hurts to lie down. Bed has been a torture cell, and the days a torment.

Tomorrow, I will remember this:
Which is scarier, Ellie:
An extra 200kcal today?
Or losing your bones to osteoporosis; and your mind to the inevitable, excruciating regret?

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As anxiety inducing as discovering chocolate dressed up as an avocado 

Pore Us

“Is anybody there with you?”
My doctor’s voice was distant down the phone. News was about to make an entrance, and I wasn’t ready for it. 3pm crept up on me as I shrank away from the sun, and was retreating up the steps to the university library. Then a shrill ringtone cut through the air, a white light flashing with alarm.
News was stirring.

“Is anybody there with you?”
I pulled into an alley. Campus is full of these dingey holes in the wall, sheltering mould, pulverised pizza boxes and sobbing, stressed out students. This one was empty.
“Can you sit down?”
No doctor, Anonymous cannot. We’re anorexic, remember? We couldn’t sit down now, even if I tried. Anorexia can’t stand to. Sitting now would hurt so much.
So I stood by myself in the alley, and asked News to come in.

I had been preparing for our first meeting since I had my bone scan, a month or so ago. Lying on that slab, listening to the machines whirl with the clock, I had time to wonder what News could be found.

News was always going to arrive after a number of Chances. There were the nice chances that drinking my milk and eating my yogurt would have done the trick. A welcome chance, that keeping my calcium levels up would fill the gaps, and help explain how and why I will recover from anorexia. The chance that osteoporosis could be halted as it drained my bones of strength, simply by gaining a little weight, was a very nice sounding chance.
Even Ellie knew, nice as it was, it wasn’t very good.

Good chance favoured the bad. With the cool indifference of science, Chances are things who do not bear good News. Just News, in all it’s disruptive and ugly forms.
The suspicion that science was right meant I was braced, standing by myself in the alley, waiting for News to come. I had expected disruptive News, but didn’t realise News would be bad enough to rip the air from my lungs and Ellie out of her cloud.
When News came, I was horrified.

Osteoporosis follows Anorexia like a shadow, lengthening into black holes burrowing into my spine and hips.
My scan results have exposed just how deep my eating disorder has sunk its claws. 12kg, 3 years and 10bpm later: osteoporosis is still alive and well. Feasting on the bones left out in the cold when my hormones abandoned me, when my periods stopped seeing red and fled.
I swallowed the News with too much air, and felt tears lance from my eyes.
“Is anybody there with you?”

I am a crowd of empty spaces.
Cramped under a mask of blood and bones, there is a life unlived. Missed opportunities, unfinished business, side-steps. Anorexia scared it all away, and drove me to this place: the derelict landscape of illness.

Illness is a lonely place. I’d invite you in, show you around, but there is nothing to see.

My island drifts between my flat, the library, the gym. Once a week I get to go to work, but it takes a moment to adjust to the sound of my name coming out of someone else’s mouth. Ellie gets let out to explain herself in my weekly hospital appointments. Going to the supermarket is a treat: it doesn’t hurt Ellie like exercise does, it doesn’t offend Anonymous like boredom.

This lonely place does things to you.
Boredom eats more than I do: days are swallowed up in a desperate attempt to keep busy, just to starve off the panic of realising how empty my time really it. Illness makes me ravenous for things I cannot do. Instead, I’ve had to binge on my university work, just for something to fill the gaps between meals. I finished coursework months before the deadline, and read theory into a frenzy.

Lonely words don’t make sense on their own. They need companions, friends to form complete sentences with. Then the thoughts would have somewhere to go, someone to bounce off. Instead, my words circle the shrinking perimeter of my incarcerated mind, picking morsels off the only topics Anorexia can stomach: food, and exercise.

Thoughts of myself burst in by accident. Then, it hits me.
Loneliness presses into my face and squeezes time to a slow, steady, stop.
Then, the wall hits me. One, two,
Three
The crowd inside surges, bursting from my head and hurling it against the wall in a desperate attempt to get out. Let me out, I want out. So much harm done.

Here are the words that have nowhere to go. They have no order to fall in, and yet still they rain.
My therapist has told me it is normal to grieve in recovery.
It is grief that I salvage out of empty spaces: this long lost love for life, and not knowing what to do with it.

Loneliness is hungry, and somehow manages to swallow up the good bits.
This is why I still write my positivity diary, every single day. It is record of Ellie in exile: and without fail, I am grateful to have people who are there for me; even if over there instead of right here in loneliness. Even those who don’t quite make the journey to realise exactly what it is I’m going through.
They still try.

Bad News arrived, and I had nowhere to put it. It rampaged through my mind and tore down my nerves until my breath rattled.

There are people who attempt to join me on my cold, anorexic island.
They usually get starved out by Anorexia’s sparse routine; or lose my plot, confused by the bits of my illness that splinter socialising like tiny shards of glass. Only pieces of myself are reflected in my behaviour. Ellie has to keep her distance to protect Anorexia, and so my island drifts off, leaving everyone else ahead.

I won’t be able to stay on this island if I get heavier.
If my body anchors itself even just above an ‘anorexic’ BMI, Ellie will either sink or swim.
Food will entice hormones back into my blood.
Food will float a heavy head with an ability to think in a straight line: to see the grey, not only the black and white.
Science says, if I restore my weight, the empty spaces will shrink, and heal over with new ones.

The News has frightened me to Ellie’s bones.
If I cannot put on enough weight to get my periods back, something bad might happen.
If I don’t recover from anorexia, something bad will continue to happen.

I have nowhere to put this bad news, except at the front of my mind.
And here, in this empty space: for anybody who is still with me.

Somebody.

Ellie, focus.
Some Body.

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Just keep swimming!

Germination

Spring has a violent beginning.
Everything that has been asleep over winter begins to stir. Distraction’s sweet lullaby starts to drone and die with the novelty of the new year. Even a slight change cracks the steely hide of routine, and wakes up all the bits of Ellie anorexia sedated in a deep, eternal sleep.

Ellie sprung on me out of her nightmare. I don’t quite remember what set her off; did I slip up on Time and fall back a few years? Was it a greasy comment or sticky news piece that hunted me down from my radio? Whatever it was, it was quite a shock; and it is the shock I have been trying to recover from all along I suppose. Starvation suspended me below the world’s line of fire, but Recovery sticks it’s neck out, and I’m feeling the aftershocks. I have managed to work my weight up another kilo over Christmas (51kg now …!), so I suppose my safety catch was off. Whatever it was, she got me. I became possessed by a blind fear.

Eventually I salvaged shredded thoughts to show to my doctors: help me, help. It has been two tear-sodden months of stomach-churning, hair-tearing fear. I wrote a blog post on how I felt, but couldn’t publish it. It was so ugly, so frightening, that I thought it would be irresponsible to publish it. Trigger warnings are sticky buggers. They promise sadistic entertainment then wash their hands of the consequences. The writing was good, but I’m not going to publish it. Something about it doesn’t feel right. You don’t need to know how much distress I was in, just that it existed, and potentially still could if it is so rudely awakened again.

The eruption of Ellie’s nightmare woke me with a shock, and I’ve been working hard to calm her down.
My doctor has prescribed me a mantra to stem the scary thoughts. They just need to clot in time for me to get to my doctor, to pick up the phone and ask for help – I’m scared. Otherwise they’ll bleed into the day after, and the next and the next. This is how I rescue myself: “How I feel right now is temporary. Just because I think it does not make it real. It wasn’t my fault.”
Recovery comes with practice. Shovelling x amount of calories to meet y amount of exercise in a day is still a challenge, but will get easier with practice. Naming Ellie and shaming Anorexia is still a challenge, but will also get easier with practice. Now of course, my therapy has opened a porthole into bits of myself that I abandoned long ago. They are unpredictable, and run wild. My doctor says with practice, they can be trained. With even more practice, they can even be accepted – “should” be accepted.
The last few weeks have been very tough to chew on. With practice, I’ll get there.

Time continued to grow around me, dragging me into the sunlight every now and then. As the scary thoughts slowly released their lock-jaw, I could watch the violence of spring subside into clawing for the horizon. Blossom foamed from the trees, the sky lifted off my shoulders a bit. My therapy pulls me forward, and I’ve been looking forward too.

There has been much to look forward to as the thoughts hang back. There is a lot I am grateful for; it wells up inside me like warm porridge. There have been days I’ve been bulging with the marvellous feast of happiness that is mine to suck on like a sun-blushed peach.
Spending time with someone other than anorexia is always a pleasure, but getting to spend time with my Mum and Dad rattles Ellie deep to her core, and wakes up the good bits.
Some of the food stuff has been feeling less like wading through treacle recently too. Now we’re tackling “the root cause” of my eating disorder, Anorexia is almost resigned. She cannot do her worst, because her worst still hasn’t managed to make me any better. Anonymous has exhausted herself and still the problem won’t go away.
Almost resigned, but not quite – or at all

– yet.

As a result, there have been pockets of progress rising in my food diary like bubbles.
Pasta has made a star appearance dressed in a homemade tomato sauce and sporting grated parmesan.
In London I watched Ellie behave almost normally around food. A weekend with my Mummy in the big city was the best treat, and I really, really enjoyed it. Ellie chose a restaurant with a variety of food – vegan, vegetarian and meat-eating alike, and held her own as she held the menu. I ate a delicious plate of ratatouille, and anorexia didn’t steal a single bite. Ah, and I had my second glass of champagne in recovery. The bubbles rose up in giggles.
Back at home, it was only when chewing through an over-ripe slice of avocado at lunchtime that Mum pointed out how lovely it was to eat lunch together. I wouldn’t have done that a year ago. I can’t think why: having some company is lovely. Especially now I live alone, and trust myself with my meals all the time.
Elsewhere, I’ve just tried to be brave. It hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference to my weight, which confuses Anonymous deeply. Surely that glass of champagne …? Or heaping that tablespoon …? Really, even choosing the larger avocado …? Realisation is germinating slowly. It better be a beautiful bloom.

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Um, hello

Other buds survived the first days of spring. One particular one is like a thorn in Anorexia’s side. A short, sharp shock; hard as a bullet. I tried to bite it, but I’m not strong enough for it yet. I was offered my dream job last week. A placement for a stylish magazine, covering their events and publishing pieces every week. In the big city, with all the big names. It is a mouth-watering opportunity.
I was offered my dream job, but anorexia is making me turn it down. It’s too soon. That’s what everyone is telling me, including Ellie. Needless to say, I am heartbroken. I might need to rename this epoc of my life as the “terrible twenties” – I haven’t tearfully cried “but it’s not fair!” like that since Barbie was confiscated.

Blossom foams from the trees. Tumbling and twirling recklessly – freely – then hits the cold hard pavement. Reality moves through it’s seasons. Beginnings are always the cruelest. But then, things get going.
And we fly.

Jaw Dropping

For a blog about Recovery, I realise how little I talk about it.
The actual mechanics: the calorie maintenance, the exercise regulation, the bloating, constipation. Hopping on and off the scale each week trying to remember the last time I managed to poo. The warm swell of a full tummy. The dread of putting on that pair of jeans breaks with the dawn. They must have shrunk in the wash.
Unless …

My weight: what affects it, what it is doing, where it is sitting at what time of day – it’s all Anorexia thinks about. And when I write these posts, I chew over how recovery is going, then cherry pick the best bits. The plump and juicy morsels of sweet success, or over-ripened anguish. I leave the weight problem to fester. My feelings about it are rotten to the core.
So now, I just want to spit it out.

Weight gain has not been happening, but nor has weight loss. Take from that what you will.
Wait, don’t take that impression: don’t think I haven’t been trying. We’ve endured nearly three years of this, and dragged my BMI up from 12.8 to at least 16 (I haven’t calculated the exact figure. Knowledge of it will only help Anonymous.) But yes, you’re right. I’m still nice and snug in the “anorexic” weight range. I’ve a good few kilos to go before I can leave my body alone, and focus all my attention on fixing the rest of my Self.

Ellie wants to be better so badly it hurts; but Anorexia don’t want to gain weight. Anonymous wants to have her cake and – not – eat it.
And so the moral of the story is … “I want never gets”. ‘Want’ will never get me out of this mess.

When my doctor insists on telling me so, I can see where I’m going wrong. I understand where anorexia gets in and sucks the wind from my lungs.
I understand I do too much exercise. All that walking, and those sneaky trips to the gym; which will become more frequent and more intense if I ever recover from this cold that has been my constant companion since I started overdoing it anyway.
I over-exercise to justify eating. It’s a negotiation to balance the scales, and keep Anorexia close.
And I understand this, you might too. But Anonymous doesn’t believe it.

So, you might ask, why bother anymore?
That’s how I feel too. Yes, recovery is very frustrating. It looks and sounds so simple. But it tastes bitter, it feels horrendous. It just stinks.
This is why I bother. I can’t stay here, I can’t live like this forever. Not when there might be a chance of reaching to a different side of my Self, and pulling it all together into something that resembles a good, happy future.

“Living must mean more than just not dying.” (Thanks Mum)
That is why. Remember that, Ellie.

All the psychological therapy I have relies on my weight.
I worked hard in the summer to bring it up to a level that rendered me “cognitively capable” of going through with psychological therapy. Since, I’ve been fighting just to keep it here.
This is the tip of the iceberg, and a fat iceberg at that.

I’m going to chip away at it where I can.
I left the hospital this week, having told myself “just for one week, I will do it. I will eat everything I am supposed to and test my doctor’s science.”

Ellie is wise from three years of weight restoration. She has been revising the old ways of doing the weight thing.
I’ve brought back my “win of the week” award, which last week went to trying a new fear food: mustard! (So SAUCY it is scary).
I’ve exhumed my little star stickers, and brandish them in my food diary whenever I do something particularly brave. Asking Mum to cook “whatever she fancied” from Deliciously Ella’s cookbook earned me one; having a savoury breakfast got another. Even today, I had a wee glass of orange juice with my lunch, not instead of it. I’ve been so under the weather recently, I figured I need the Vitamin C. And the sugar of course, but we must never mention the S word after it happens. The best thing about getting a gold star, is that it’s bright shiny surface reflects a very different version of my food than the one in Anorexia’s mind’s eye.

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Just cos I’m not on instagram doesn’t mean I’m not going to show off this awesome supper ft. dressing made with mustard!

I’ll never win this game against Anorexia without changing the rules.
I wish I didn’t have to play anymore but I’m in it now; right up to my low BMI.
And the only way out, is up.
There is no avoiding it, Ellie. Just open your mouth and try.

There’ll be gold stars all round.

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Gold stars, and pretty breakfast bowls