Wednesday, 1 March 2017

EDAW 2017

It's that time again, Eating Disorder Awareness Week is upon us. In the last few years, it's been really easy to write about- here are entries from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011- and even though they're pretty cringy in parts, they were easy to write. This year, it's been a bit tougher. In a way, that's great- I count my recovery as starting when I started taking food orally, during my last NG tube (those nasty feeding tubes that go up your nose) period, which means my recovery will be 3 years old this spring. That's great. Obviously. But the further I get into my recovery, the further I get from all I once knew, and that's why it's harder to write this year.

So I've looked to the internet for inspiration, because I can't not acknowledge the week, despite not having an ED any more. According to Beat, this year the emphasis is on early intervention, so I'm going to talk a lil about that.

Between the ages of 8 and 11, I went to the doctors a lot. If I wasn't there for how often I was vomiting (self induced, not that anybody but me knew that), I was there for infections and all sorts. Eventually, it was just decided that I had a nervous stomach, but that there was nothing really wrong with me. Which wasn't true, of course, but there was nothing physically wrong with me apart from the side effects of having an ED. Once I got to secondary school, I went to the doctor every few months to be treated for a tremor. The tremor is benign and there's a genetic element to it, but mine was exacerbated by low blood sugar and anxiety. That was never picked up, though.

Throughout my childhood, I alternated between anorexic and bulimic years. If my weight was healthy, it was that way because of bingeing so heavily. If it was under-, it was because I was barely eating. Hell, when I was about 15, I was overweight, again from bingeing so much. Throughout those years, my eating and body image were never once healthy. But the only time it was flagged up by people in my life was when I was underweight, concern falling away when I began bingeing again.

This led me to conclude that I only mattered, that my suffering only counted, when I was anorexic, rather than when I was bulimic.When, often, I was hurting more when I was going through bulimic periods. Anorexia is drawn out and slow, and, for me, occurred when I stopped caring. Bulimia is violent and fast, and, for me, occurred when I cared too much.

By the time I was ready to demand help, I was 17. I'd been ill for around 9 years, so the opportunity was long since lost for early intervention. There were so many opportunities in those 9 years for a doctor to have picked up on what was going on with me, so many times where I was in front of medical professionals literally for things that are textbook ED signs. The thing is, doctors just don't have the training. Hell, the only people who seem to know what to look out for are those with personal experience.

It took me from 17 to 24 to recover. 7 years. 7 years of different medications, different therapies and a whole lot of different hospital admissions. 7 years of my organs going into shock and then failure. 7 years of my bone density falling and my joints crumbling. 7 years of thinning hair and cracked skin. 7 years of feeling like a failure every time I acted on a compulsion- which meant I pretty much always felt like a failure, let me just say.

My point is this- I firmly believe that early intervention would have saved my early twenties, and almost certainly my teens, too. Did I recover? Yes. It is absolutely possible to recover, no matter how long you've been ill. But it would have been a damn sight easier to have done so if I'd not spent most of my life ill, by the time I started treatment. Not everyone is as lucky as I was, or has the same access to treatment (thank you, NHS). Not everyone recovers. People die. They die. Anorexia is the most fatal mental illness, but still treatment funding is limited and medical staff training is scant.

So, you're going to have to fight for effective treatment. I'm sorry. You shouldn't have to, when it's hard enough to believe you deserve it. But if you need a hand, give me a shout.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Once SBIWYB was 7 years old

It's been the best part of a month since I last posted, because I needed a bit of a break. In a few weeks, it will be 7 years since I started SBIWYB. I started it because I'd blogged on MySpace in my teens (lol, RIP. To both MySpace and my teens) and in the few years between the death of MySpace and me setting this up, I'd missed writing for me. Avoiding coursework and college work in those years was cool, but not quite the same. If you're not going to write as often or as well as you ought to, you might as well screw up for yourself, y'know?

The key thing was, I started this for me. I never wanted or expected internet fame, and hell- I never got it. I will say, though, I definitely wanted attention and that, I did get. Like, I really was doing it for me, and for the voice it gave me, even just amongst people I know. There's still such a stigma around mental illness and talking about it made a lot of people in my life uncomfortable. I don't know if they thought my issues would make them look bad (I just had to delete a comment identifying who I'm really talking about... but you know who, hahaha) or what, but in the early days, I got a lot of stick for doing this.

I'd say, since I turned my life around over the last few years, there's been far less conflict over this, and that's been great. But there's also been far less to say, I guess. In the earliest days, I mostly just wrote manic rubbish and I do think I got more articulate, but since getting out of hospital 2 years ago, I also think my writing might have got more dull. My life today is far better than it's ever been, but it doesn't make for as interesting a blog.

So, 7 years on, I'm in a pickle. I'm not ready to give up on SBIWYB, I've enjoyed writing every entry, but I also cringe a bit at how less often I post now. So, I took a break to have a think about these last 7 years and the direction I want to go in today. I came to the realisation that I wouldn't be without the record this has given me of my battle. I think from here on in, I'm going to focus on mental health stuff in the media, with occasional life updates, and focus less on my own- good- mental health. I'm not ready to end this, but I won't apologise for being well.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Self diagnosis.

Quite a few times on here, I've told you some really shitty things I've done. I was brought up Catholic, so maybe I'm still a sucker for Confession. Regardless of the reason, I want to tell you yet another shitty thing I did in my past, and try and explain how it happened. And this is it: I nominated myself as bouncer to the exclusive club of Eating Disordered and attempted to refuse entry to anybody I didn't see as ill enough.

But I'm going to backtrack a little bit. I'm going to start off telling you about my evolution of thought on self diagnosis.

When it comes to physical illness, I think you're really best off not googling your symptoms. Sure, there are times when it's responsible to do so- checking what to spot when it comes to breast cancer, for example- but generally, don't google whether your headache is a brain tumour. Mental illness is different. With mental illness, I think that you're best to be as aware as you can. With mental illness, a lot of the times I think that you can self diagnose because pretty much any sort of diagnostic test is based on how you rate your mental state, no fancy equipment necessary. It's not necessarily true for every condition, but generally you know if you're depressed or anxious or starving yourself or whatever. And, maybe most importantly, self diagnosis enables people to articulate better to professionals what's going on for them.

It was maybe 9 years between the start of my eating disorder and my actual diagnosis. There were a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is that I was very, very young when I started and so when my symptoms were brought to my doctor's attention, it was diagnosed as something else. But I knew I had an eating disorder. My behaviours started when I was 8, and it wasn't long after that that I realised what was going on. I didn't understand the implications, of course, but I could put a name to it. I'd self diagnosed 7 or 8 years before my official diagnosis and it helped. It helped knowing that it wasn't my fault, it was a genuine illness and when I was ready, I could get help.

For whatever reason though, once I got the diagnosis, I became really bloody cocky with it. I disregarded the fact that self diagnosis had benefited me so much in my earlier years and I started to become really elitist. I needed to be great at something, and having an eating disorder was something I could execute brilliantly, so I'd get arrogant over the fact that I had that diagnosis. It was fucked up, but I can understand how I'd got to that place. I wasn't at all pro-Ana, I did my best to direct other people to recovery, but only if they had that diagnosis. Only if I deemed them worthy. I was constantly so angry at anybody I saw as playing at having an eating disorder and I loathed people who self diagnosed and had the audacity to claim the disorder as their own, when it was my thing.

That's hard to admit to, because it made me horrible. Horrible. I decided it was my place to pick out who did and didn't have an eating disorder, I judged people for doing what they had to, and, what I now consider even worse, I made diagnosis into something it really shouldn't be- an achievement.

The thing is, the thing that recovery has really shown me, is that eating disorders are way more of a spectrum thing than a binary one. Eating disorders are different for everybody, in behaviours, attitudes, thought processes- everything. And the degrees in which people are affected are all different. It's not more impressive to eat less or to vomit more. It's not more impressive to have been ill or diagnosed the longest. It's not more impressive to have been tube fed the most or at the lowest weight.

We do what we have to do. And I'm sorry that I made it into more than it ought to have been.

Friday, 13 January 2017

BPD and stigma.

When it comes to mental health, not all conditions were created equally. I could honestly go through the entire DSM and write the societal view on each condition. Lord knows I've heard the views enough times. But I'll give you the edit...

Depression and anxiety have the least stigma, but that's not always a benefit because they're seen as not as significant as others. Eating disorders, particularly bulimia, are seen as a joke- how often are the popular girls in comedies given bulimia? PTSD is to be worn as a badge of honour, but only if you got it in the military, because then you're a hero. Got it from anything else? I can send you plenty of TRIGGERED memes, urgh. OCD is a quirky or anal personality trait. She's so tidy! She's totally OCD! Schizophrenia is really misunderstood (fact: it's not having split personalities) and terrifying and dangerous for the public. Same as psychosis- how often do you hear about schizo/psycho killers, eh? How many actually have diagnoses, eh?

And Lord, don't get me started on borderline personality disorder (as you can imagine, I'm totally about to get started on BPD).

For those of you who don't know a lot about it, BPD is characterised by emotional instability- really intense highs and lows, usually really quickly fluctuating- and problems with things like identity and relationships. Self harm, suicide attenpts and dangerous behaviour all join the party. And from the people I know who have had it (bear in mind I was on a hospital ward for women with BPD for 2.5 years, so I know a lotttt of people with it), it tends to strike people who had shitty childhoods.

The general consensus on BPD is that those affected are manipulative, dramatic, jealous, dangerous attention seekers. And whenever a film features a female stalker, they're ALWAYS diagnosed BPD. Hell, even Ugly Betty featured a girlfriend of a main character who tried to kill Betty because she thought she was making moves on her man. She'd lost her shit because she had BPD. Snore. It's the laziest way to create a villain, ignoring that people with BPD are far more likely to be victims of abuse because they get into such dodgy relationships and typically have low self-esteem.

My diagnosis was changed last year from BPD to Complex PTSD, among other shit. Generally, I don't really care any more what I'm diagnosed with. I haven't cared for quite some years, although it did used to be really important to me. I knew the BPD label didn't fit me, but I wouldn't have cared too much what my notes said if it wasn't for the stigma, including from mental health teams themselves. Knowing that any contact I made with professionals was blighted by a condition I knew I didn't have was tough.

Which is pretty screwed up, since even if I did have it, I'd be just as deserving of time and care. Even if I did have it, I'd still be worthy of recovery. Even if I did have it, I wouldn't have been dangerous.

Even if you have it, you're no less deserving of anything than anybody else.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

What people want to know.

When people hear that you had anorexia, they want to know what your lowest weight was. I just checked with my mum and she said that I weighed 7lb 1.5oz in September 1990, so whack that down as my answer. Can't get more exact than that. Well, I know babies sometimes lose a few ounces straight after birth, but for argument's sake, let's stick with just over 7lbs. Oh, people really want to know your lowest BMI? Bit irrelevant to much, apart from my medical notes. Bit like the composition of my urine, really.

When people hear you had bulimia, they want to know what the most you ever ate was. Ok, this one is a lie. Nobody wonders that, because they generally think bulimia is just normal eating with added vomiting. Often, though, they want to know how much you got up. I used to get some wild bugs as a kid. Nose vomit for days. Oh, people really want to hear about how much you did it when you were thin and attractive and vulnerable, but still old enough to be hot? Jokes on them, because the pictures of thin, attractive, vulnerable but still old enough to be hot women making themselves tragically and beautifully sick are lies.

When people hear you used to cut, they want to know what the worst thing you ever did to yourself was. I can answer this one unequivocally. Bleaching my hair. Although I'm really pale and freckly, I have dark eyebrows so I only suit a really narrow colour palate. And I can tell you now, blonde hair doesn't work. At all. Oh, people really want to know how many stitches you needed? Unless you're the one pulling them out or whatever, I don't know why you'd need to know? Or unless you're in charge of buying the thread used? I'm clutching at straws here.

When people hear that you were known for overdosing, they want to know how many times you did it. That's a toughy. I mean, I used to take 4 paracetamol every morning I woke up hungover and I definitely snuck some extra Calpol when I was a kid. Oh, people really want to know how many times you did it with the intention of doing serious harm? I suppose it's quite a hard one because you can't judge intent on how many pills you poured down your throat.

When people hear that you were suicidal, they want to know how many times you tried to kill yourself. I never used to use zebra crossings. I ate some really questionable seafood in my younger years. I definitely can't be arsed exercising these days, Oh, people really want to know how many times to wrote a note and took a categorical step towards death? Ever so sorry, but it rarely works like that. Some suicide attempts and some suicides are slower, more laborious or less decisive than others. Some lives are like that too, actually.

Look, I get it. Freak shows have been a thing with humans for forever. We're drawn to the odd and we are attracted to things that are completely different from us. But listen, right, the mentally ill are not your oddity. They shouldn't be the latest exhibit to marvel over.

To those who are neurotypical: respect boundaries and appreciate that mental health is a difficult topic for a lot of people to talk about, don't make shit awkward. Don't create an us/them framework or use others' internal battles to make you feel better about your own. To those who are not: don't fall into the trap of competing with others over who is the most well/ill. I've done it, and nobody ends up any better for it. Don't feel like you have to justify yourself or prove you are/have been ill, with information you're not wanting to share.

Monday, 12 December 2016

What is recovery?

It's been, wow, almost a month since I last posted. That's because I've been really low and I just can't bear to be too honest about how I'm feeling when how I'm feeling isn't good. I used to only really post when things were going tits up and then neglect my blog for more exciting things when my mood was up. Now, I want only to be as positive as I can be on here, because I know it's important to give people an idea of what recovery is like, and why it's worth striving for.

The thing is, though, the lows are as important a part of recovery as the more level moments are. Nobody wants to say it. Recovery is meant to be really spectacular, but it's more like, right, a constant stream of 'why aren't I happy? Why isn't this really fun? Why isn't my smile as bright as her's? Am I really in recovery? Is this all that recovery is? Is it worth it?' and on. And on. And on.

Truth is, I doubt myself far more now than I ever did in the grips of my eating disorder. When all I had to worry about was my weight, I could block out all other noise. It was miserable and I was alone and I would rather die than go back, but at least I understood my purpose. As long as every day I continued chipping away at all that I was, both literally and figuratively, I knew what I was doing.

The problem, of course, with blocking out all external noise is that you miss out on the good, too. I was fine with that, because it was worth it to block out the bad. I'm a lot more open now, to the good and the bad, but it all feels so very precarious. Like I could fall apart at any moment. I was broken before and I knew it, whereas now I'm constantly arguing with myself over whether I'll ever be whole again, if I can ever be fixed.

I think, maybe, once we're broken we can never be put back the way we were again. We can just be rebuilt in another way. I'll never be the person I might have been, the person who'd never started making myself sick- the first of my ED behaviours- those 18 years ago. But I need to put her to bed. No amount of self criticism will ever produce what was never to be.

Maybe it's those moments of begging for death that make you stronger, because you know that whatever happens, you've survived the rockiest of rock bottoms. Maybe they make you weaker, because you're always afraid of falling back to that place. Maybe it doesn't matter.

And so, now. I'm clawing my way back out of the dark place I was in. I'd like to think these long blogging holidays- if you can call what just went on, that- will cease, but that's about the one thing I don't doubt. I know I'll keep falling apart. But I know I'll keep putting myself back together, in a million different ways. And that, I think, is what recovery is.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A little thanks.

After the exhausting sadness of the last few weeks, I'm starting to pick back up. I think I let a lot of things get to me that were actually sort of positive. The pressure to do well, and the pressure to be this pinnacle of recovery. Like, ok, people like to tell me how well I'm doing. Yes, that comes with a lot of pressure to constantly one-up myself, but it also means that people care. Both in myself and my story and in other people, in the people they hope my story will help. It's absolutely confining because it keeps me in a box of recovery, but it's absolutely liberating in that it keeps me out of the box of whatever diagnosis. It's an absolute head fuck, really, but it's ok.

Whilst I was down, I posted on facebook appealing for self-care tips and I got some really good ones and lots of support, and that really helped. It's so easy to criticise social media for its impact on mental health, but it's a great platform if you know how to use it. I don't have a particularly long block list (although I know that doing that works for a lot of people), but I'm not afraid of unfriending. I find that especially effective when someone has horrible political views because I've come to find you can't reason with unreasonable. I don't even do that much any more though, because I'm a big fan of the unfollow button. It's like unfriending without looking like a dick. So anyone posting a lot about weight loss, or anything like that are all unfollowed.

It's made my feed a lot more positive. Mostly it's people sharing pics of their kids and I love that. Or strong women I admire. Or funny fuckers. Or people who are unflinchingly honest without being triggering (it's fine to say you're struggling, it's not fine to unload pics of your cuts or jutting bones). That little unfollow button is so nice for us who can't be arsed with confrontation, I tell you.

I've realised I went on a little tangent there, but it's kind of representative of my head space right now. Since I had another Olanzapine (anti-psychotic) reduction last week, I've found that I keep veering off onto completely different topics and telling even more irrelevant stories than usual. And I'm not known for relevant stories, put it that way. I was anxious when I first did the reduction, just from withdrawals, but now I feel just more energised than I did before, which is so novel. I'm no longer sleeping 13 hours a day either, so that's more practical.

ANYWAY. Thank you to everyone who reached out over the last few weeks, I think was my point with this post. Thank you for investing in my recovery and caring about me continuing with it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Success story.

For a lot of people, particularly within local mental health services and the hospitals I was a patient in, I've become more of an idea than a person. Hell, for a lot of people who only sort of know me, I'm the stories people tell, rather than the person I am. I'm the success story; I'm the person who proves that recovery is possible; I'm the person that's rewarding to work with. Not because I'm particularly special, but because I seem to have returned from some sort of living death and a lot of people can claim (and mostly deservedly so) input into that. They tell me that I'm the one they tell people who are just starting their recovery journeys about. And they think that that's going to be nice to hear.

But it's not.

Don't get me wrong, I do honestly get it. I used to search for success stories to encourage myself forward and I ate up all sorts of tales about recovery. Anything to inject me with a dose of hope. I was always waiting for some sort of epiphany, for everything to suddenly make sense. I remember once seeing a made-for-TV film about two friends, one with anorexia and the other with bulimia. All manner of dramatic and fast things happened (don't get me started on how quickly Hollywood EDs progress and how quickly people get help), and then one night one of them had this massively dramatic breakdown where she screamed that she didn't want to die, and then quickly recovered. I never had that moment. Nobody really has that moment.

I think, though, in or way or another, everybody searches for that moment. Everybody wants to believe that it can all turn around instantly. Everybody wants to believe in stories like mine. On paper, you only have to look at my history of hospital admissions and yadda yadda yadda and see that it's been well over a year since I last was in and blah blah blah. You can flick through my facebook photos are see me doing fun things and looking healthy. It's all out there.

Nobody is looking for the silence though. People don't realise that my fear over getting ill again and letting everybody down is literally making me ill. I feel under so much pressure and I'm so beyond stressed. When they tell people about me, nobody speaks about how I lay awake at night worrying about what effect me struggling would have on the morale of services and social media friends and people who sort of know me. Things are not unicorns and rainbows. I'm having a really hard time working out how much I can tell different people about how I'm feeling, judged by how invested they are in my being a success. It's exhausting.

People don't seem to understand that I never wanted to be the poster child for anything. I sort of fell into public speaking and I loved it. I still do. To a degree, it is all my fault. But I only wanted, selfish as it sounds, to speak for myself. I don't want to be a mouthpiece, I don't want to an example, I don't want to be a 'I once knew this girl...' type of a girl.

I just want to be a person. I'm not a success story. Today it took me 3 hours to convince myself to have my first shower in 5 days. Tomorrow might be better. I'm tired.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Unexplained sadness.

Since my accident, I've been really sad. The first week or two it kind of made sense. I was in a lot of pain and I was fed up. I sat propped on a shit tonne of cushions and napped a lot (cheers, painkillers) and that was about it. The pain radiated right up my spine and into my neck and I was exhausted. I was adamant I was only taking a few days off work, which was properly laughable, and when I realised I wouldn't be, I was really pissed off at the whole situation.

After that, I could sit a bit more comfortably but I still couldn't really walk or even stand for any length of time. I knew that my time off work would be measured in weeks not days and I was coming to terms with it, because I knew that although I was improving, I still had a way to go. The problem then was I was bored. I was fed up of sitting on my arse but I wasn't well enough to do a great deal about it.

Now, my back and neck are both a lot better, but that's just leaving me with the sadness without the distraction of a of pain. I'm not even totally sure why exactly I'm so sad. Yesterday I might have given you a different answer, but I've since spoken to work and arranged to go back on Friday, that's one thing I've got sorted, so I don't think the expanse of time ahead of me to fill is the reason.

Chances are, I'm just hormonal with a good dash of bored. I can't quite figure it out though. I'm not depressed. But I've always thought sadness could be explained away and I suppose I'm now realising that isn't true.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Work and a car accident.

I need to do a bit of a life update, so bear with me and I'll be back to the usual stuff soon. It's been a ridiculous few weeks and it feels odd that it's not even been that long since I last posted, but already so much has changed.

I started training for work last Monday. I was so beyond scared on Sunday night, mostly because I was scared everyone would be so much more experienced that I am. I'm working with adults with learning disabilities on a mental health ward, and obvs I am ridiculously experienced of mental health wards in general, but also, obvs, that doesn't mean I'm remotely experienced of being a professional in that environment. In one sense, I was very right. My training group had people from all disciplines and all levels of experience, but they were all very good at accepting the experience I do have, so that was pretty cool. Tuesday I was only in for a half day (which is a good job, because to get to work for 8, I was on a train at 6am. Bloody torture), but I got chance to meet more staff and patients.

And Wednesday, where to begin on Wednesday. I struggled a bit on the topics for training, but a cup of tea about sorted me. After training we piled onto a mini bus to head back from off-site training to the hospital. We were zooming along and apart from the music being tres loud and having to shout for the driver to turn it down so I could call a taxi to pick me up from the hospital, it was all pretty mundane. And then. Well.

Then we were hit. Before the impact of the car hitting the side of our mini bus, I heard someone begin to swear and for a split second thought we'd had a near miss. Although I didn't have time before we were hit for my heart to start pounding, I had time to taste metal in my mouth. And then we we're spinning. And then we were screaming. And still spinning. And still screaming.

When we stopped, we were on a grass verge and I was certain we were going to tip. We didn't, but we did have smoke billowing out of the engine and we had to scramble to free ourselves. The next bit is a blur. My hip locked and I started noticing pain in my neck and spine that I'd not noticed in the mad climb out of the mini bus and to say I freaked out would be a major understatement. The next thing I do remember though is being strapped into a collar and onto a spinal board and being put in the back of an ambulance.

Long story (sorry) short: no breaks, just whiplash and a strained back. Or a sprained back. I don't really know the difference and I can't remember which they said. Lots of pain. Lots of painkillers. Not a lot of movement. Not a lot of action.

So I'm out of work. Luckily, my girlfriend was able to take Thursday and Friday off to look after me, as well as doing a top job doing the same over the weekend, It's got to have been hard on her because I'm a nightmare, but she's pretty fantastic. Yesterday and today I've been on my own, which has been tough but I'm starting to get a bit of movement back, although I still can't do a lot and I definitely can't do anything without a lot of pain. My recovery time is going to be long, but I'm hoping I'll be able to function more in the next few weeks.

So yes, that's that!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Eating disorder? Disordered eating?

When I was at uni, I was under the care of the local drug and alcohol service. I've never been into drugs, but I've always been quite the drinker. I'd go to the service and feel really out of place, probably partly because some sort of snobbery that I had- I was young! I was a student! I wasn't like those people!- but also because I just knew I wasn't an alcoholic. Don't get me wrong, I drank all day every day and I was known for my Jesus hip flask, but I knew that that was a choice I made, rather than an addiction. My drinking was a side effect of my mental health problems, if that makes sense. These days, I'm still a drinker. Friday and Saturdays after 5 are just made for drinking. But that's a choice, and that fits in with the culture I'm a part of.

Whenever I hear people talk about disordered eating, I remember those years of being, on paper, an alcoholic. The best way I can think of differentiating between an eating disorder and disordered eating is to remember why I was always so certain that I wasn't an alcoholic.

I think eating disorders, like alcoholism, are all encompassing. You don't get to choose to have a day off because you're a bit skint or you don't feel much like it. You don't pick to turn off your compulsions because you're on holiday or don't want to upset people. You don't get to just make a decision to stop obsessing because it don't fit in with your lifestyle any more.

I think disordered eating is a bit less intense. You might get to choose to have a day off because you can't afford your poison or you don't feel 100%. You might get to pick to turn off your compulsions because you're away or you know that acting on them would upset people around you. You might even get to make a decisions to stop obsessing because it doesn't fit the way you live any more.

Sometimes, I think people opt to say that they have disordered eating rather than an eating disorder because they're afraid of being judged. It probably gets around some of the awful 'you don't LOOK like you have an eating disorder!' type comments that everyone feels like they have the right to make. Or maybe they're not ready to accept that they do have an eating disorder. But, then, there are people who genuinely do have disordered eating- hell, I probably do, myself, these days- and are self aware, in the same ways I was during my drinking days.

It ebbs and flows, too. Like, I had an eating disorder and now I have disordered eating. It would be nice to say that my disordered eating will one days go completely, but I doubt it. I'll always be recovering. And anyway, by the same token, I may one day fall back down the rabbit hole to a full blown eating disorder again. In the same way recovering alcoholics generally need to stay away from alcohol, there are certain foods and things that I'll always need to avoid. I'll always have to be a bit careful, in the way I wouldn't have had to have been if I'd had disordered eating.

Really, though, I have no right whatsoever to decide what makes an eating disorder and what makes disordered eating. This is all just speculation and my own experiences. When it comes down to it, we're all the experts in ourselves and we should all be able to describe our eating however we wish.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Beauty.

I used to think my problem was that I wasn't beautiful. I've always known I was really cute for my first few years, and then I just became... awkward looking. I originally had written a paragraph about how awkward looking I was/am, but I deleted it because it's not the point. Just trust me, I had good reasons for why I was so sure I wasn't beautiful. I thought not being beautiful was a reason to destroy myself. I thought the whole reason for being feeling so awful all of the time was that I wasn't beautiful. I think I even sort of thought there was a certain beauty and value in struggle, and that was worth not striving to recover.

Then I thought, maybe it's not that I'm not beautiful that's the point, maybe the point was I didn't believe I was beautiful. Maybe it was my lack of confidence that was at fault. Perhaps that if my personality had been stronger, I'd have had more faith in my own beauty, or at least I'd have been able to fake it. And I'm a big fan of the concept of 'fake it until you make it.' Maybe had I been told by everyone, ever, that I was beautiful, it wouldn't really matter that I actually wasn't.

That sort of led me onto my current thought: maybe the problem is that I was putting way too much value on beauty. I think that I was right- both in thinking I wasn't beautiful and in not having faith- but, actually, that really doesn't matter.

There are far worse things to be called than awkward or even ugly. I'd rather be called ugly than cruel, malicious, rude, offensive, mean or arrogant. There are far better things to be called than beautiful. I'd rather be called clever, talented, fun, quirky, funny or kind than beautiful.

That's not to say I'm about to stop telling people that they're beautiful. But I am going to try and compliment people on their talents and personalities more, I think. I'm surrounded by so many people who are beautiful- trite as this is about to sound- through both their appearances and their personalities, and I'd like to think that they're aware of both. Beauty is great, but it's shouldn't be the goal. Beauty is great, but it isn't the goal.