Change is in the air.

Recovery is largely about change. We are changing our beliefs, our habits, our controls, our lives. We are changing from a place of darkness to a place of living. Its a process which is far from easy. But, change… It is a good thing.

Change results in freedom. We can create freedom from all those sensations of sadness, anger, unhappiness, isolation, loneliness, fear and pain that our eating disorder gave us.  We can form a life that is brimming with all we need to live happily – enjoying life as it is, in its own beauty. We can live knowing that everything will be all right.

To attain this, we must change. We must change small things, like how much ice cream we eat in a week; to big things, like how we see ourselves, whether we love ourselves. It involves taking small steps. Constantly. Change isn’t comfortable, nor is recovery, because they’re so very interlinked. Each step we take will add to the millions of other steps we’ve taken, to take us on a journey to a world in which we want to live.

I feel that sometimes in recovery, we become comfortable. For example, I was put on a low calorie meal plan by my dietician to begin with to turn things around without the risk of re-feeding syndrome (a complication with the metabolism which can occur if there is a sudden and significant calorific increase given to someone malnourished) and I became comfortable with this. I could cope with the set meal plan and not eating ‘too much’ and I wanted it to stay his way, so I resisted the changes in my meal plan. However, as time went on and I stopped gaining and began losing weight, I realised I could no longer sustain this. I had become too comfortable with it and it was time for change. That’s when I began looking at the Minnie Maud guidelines. I knew I needed to challenge myself and take a step.

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I’m not saying that MM is the only way of challenging yourself, but if in recovery you are finding things are seeming fairly easy, ask yourself ‘Am I challenging myself enough? What can I crank up a notch?’,  because who wants to be under the foot of their ED longer than they have to be?

Be honest with yourself. Are you changing enough? The last thing our ED wants is for us to change. That would mean it would be losing its ability to control us and what decisions we make. So, I see this as a good reason to change. Scare your ED and show it who is boss.

For me, I believe that no matter what steps we take to change, it will bring us to the greater good in life. This world is wonderful and no matter the direction I choose to take, it will result in something spectacular. I just can’t sit around feeling comfortable in my misery. There’s more to life than that.

The moment we take the plunge and decide to make a change, its amazing how things fall into place. Whether it is meeting someone who’s on a similar journey, or stumbling upon a brilliant opportunity or something completely different…we begin to open our eyes and change becomes easier, enjoyable and well worth the initial fear.

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Remember to praise yourself for the transitional phase your going through. You are strong and powerful. You’re doing something incredible. So – Well done!

Its only change. I am safe. All is well.

Support? Really?!

I have experienced first hand the medical system supplied to help young people with eating disorders and I can tell you this:

It sucks.

Okay. Maybe I am being a little harsh, but large elements of it sucks.

When I first realised I needed help, I visited my doctor and explained, in a rather emotional babbling way, that I wanted help. He was great. He was understanding and caring. I was unhappy and it was affecting my eating. I still wouldn’t completely admit that I had relapsed. I had told myself that if I could just access some therapy, then my eating ‘issues’ would sort themselves out.

He referred me to Compass, a part of the NHS which looks at an individual’s case and decides when and how the person will receive help. I was put straight through to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), where I was assigned to a counsellor, dietician, psychiatrist and two nurses from the Reaching Out Service, who are there to try and prevent someone under CAMHS from hospitalisation. The nurses visit you at your home and can support your meals if you need it. I was immensely lucky to receive help so quickly and rapidly I became aware that my eating was a massive problem that wasn’t just going to dissappear with time. I needed ti recover.

Initially I did not appreciate the ROS team as much as I prehaps ‘should’ have. In retrospect, they took neccessary precautions which potentially saved my life. It had felt like they had barged into my home and told me that I had to stop all the things I enjoyed, like ballet and work but in reality I could not sustain this lifestyle. I came to terms with this over time and started to appreciate the ROS team a little more.

However, over time they have been more of a struggle, than helpful and advisory. They had told my parents that they would recieve support to help me through recovery but despite my parents requesting this serveral times after the inital offer, it was never supplied. This bothered me because I knew my parents needed some guidance in helping a 17 year old through all of this, just as much as I did.
To further my disliking for the ROS team, I constantly felt misunderstood by them. I spoke to one of the nurses about an issue I had with my balance – I kept losing balance and falling over – and she said it was because I was drinking too much water, which was a problem I had when I first came to CAMHS. I assured her that I only drank when I was thirsty now and it was not to surpress hunger. She then text me to say that I had to stop drinking too much, it was severely dangerous, implying that I was over-drinking and not telling her the truth. I felt completely unheard and untrusted. I am aware that EDs ‘make’ you lie and denial is common but I had spent so long trying to prove to the nurses that I was on the right track, I was fully committed to recovery. They evidently still didn’t believe me and I was exhausted of having to prove anything to anyone other than myself.

It only grew worse. As I committed to the Minnie Maud guidlines and started experiencing Extreme Hunger, I found myself rapidly gaining weight. When I stepped on the nurse’s scales one week, her response only fed the demons that were running through my brain. Wow. That’s a lot of weight to gain in one week. Gee. That’s more than weight gain in Inpatient. You know you don’t need to gain this fast, right?’. Somwhere in there she said some positive things about how great and persevering I was being. How I had really chucked myself into recovery. I didn’t care. My brain only really wanted to latch onto the negatives. The following week, I had gained even more than the previous week. Oh. Let me just check what you weighed last week again. Nope. You’ve definitely gained thaaat much. Have you started on a little exercise yet? Prehaps just a bit of walking everyday? And you said you were on 3000, uhuh? Well take that down to 2700 now and then we can look at maintainence diets and set points soon! I couldn’t quite believe she was saying this to someone with and ED. Everything I was believing in to recover, I began to question. How was I suppose to start eating 2700 when I ate well over 3000 a day? How was I supposed to start exercise again when I didn’t even have to energy to get off the sofa half the time? My demons started that familiar stupid little chant again: pft. You don’t have an eating disorder. You are way to lazy and eat way to much for that to be the case. They were wrong of course because, I wouldn’t even have those thoughts if I didn’t have an ED.

I was so angry and the nurses for making me feel this way. I’m still sitting here writing and saying to myself that maybe I’m in the wrong and that the nurse was right, I have no reason to be upset about the situation. But… How could they say all of this to someone with and ED and think it is okay? Because its not. If I was in a less strong place, I don’t know what would have happened. Would I have taken her advice? Would I have become exercise obsessed? Would I have just ignored my EH and lived in starvation mode? Would I have relapsed? I don’t know but I hate that they didn’t make my weight gain easier. They made it uncomfortable and I felt judged. The last thing someone with an ED in recovery needs.

Following some reassurance from a good friend also in recovery, I decided to send CAMHS a letter requesting to no longer see the ROS team and briefly said that I was not happy with the service I was provided with. I also said that if the wished for further information and feedback, they could try contacting me about it.

I feel its important to give feedback because the only thing worse than experiencing this, is knowing that lots of other young people are also receiving this for ‘support’. I want to be able to do what I can to prevent this.

I could go on all day about bad experiences I’ve had with the NHS with my ED but I don’t have enough time and I think you grasp the idea. I would just say that I am still immensely grateful for the NHS and I have received some brilliant help from them throughout my life. However, mental health is their fall down and for me, its not just the medics themselves who should change, it is society as a whole. We have a stigma around mental health which saddens me greatly, and although this is changing, as a result the government aren’t funding training in mental health. Consequently, people like myself are left with inadequate support.

What support is available to you for your ED?
Have you had any bad experiences with services supplied to you to help with your ED recovery?
Are you comfortable talking about mental health?

It’s called Extreme Hunger for a reason.

Its fairly difficult to find first hand experiences of Extreme Hunger (EH) and yet, it is fairly common for someone recovering from a restrictive eating disorder to experience it. So, I find myself asking, ‘Why is it like this?’ and my conclousi0n has been we are ashamed of our EH. Of course, we do not need to be but when we have spent so much time thinking that consuming less food was an achievement, it is hard to admit that we are now consuming far more than is ‘normal’.

I do feel guilty at times for the amount of food I currently eat but it would be a miracle if I didn’t because I have a restrictive eating disorder and that is just the kind of pain my Anorexia puts me through. What is of importance is that I challenge those guilty thoughts and rationalise why the way I am eating is okay. And, it is just that: okay.

Just a quick recap for those of us who are not familiar with EH… Often we:

  • Have the desire to eat food, beyond our physical hunger.
  •  Do not feel satisfied by the food we have already eaten.
  •  Eat faster than usual.
  • Consume far more food than a ‘normal’ person would.
  •  Feel guilty, out of control and fear we have developed binge-eating disorder (we have not)

(Note: These are not EH rules, they are just common factors of EH. Everyone’s recovery is different)

Owing to the lack of personal recordings of EH, I feel it makes sense to share my experience of it at current. I know that not everyone will endure the same experience and I do not wish you to compare yourself to me because your recovery is your own and so long as you are satisfying your hunger and eating enough, it does not matter whether you experience ‘more’ or ‘less’ EH than anyone else. We are all individuals.

It is common during recovery for us to be thinking about food a lot: planning, eating, thinking, cooking, buying. Food. Food. Food. It is our brain’s way of reminding us that we’re still starving. We still need more food. Our brains are clever things. They won’t let us be until we are no longer starved. Its tiring thinking about food all the time but the only way to eradicate these mundane and repeating thoughts  is to EAT and reduce the starvation to a little pile of nothingness.

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I would probably describe my own experience of EH as pretty extreme. Its called Extreme Hunger for a reason I suppose. I eat most of the day… almost everyday!

For example, today I woke up feeling fairly full from eating a lot yesterday but my first thought after waking up boiling hot (damn you night sweats) was ‘FOOD’. I instantly thought about ways to suppress this hunger… ‘Oatmeal, that’ll do the job’… ‘I could just stay in bed a bit longer’… ‘Eat xxx calories and ignore those hungry food thoughts’. I knew this was going to be unhelpful and would not progress my recovery in any way, shape or form. So… I went downstairs and ate. Turning a blind eye to my EH would only prolong all these processes and cause EH later which could be far more extreme (I feel this may not even be physically possible though!).

I kept eating for about 2 hours, during which I consumed about 3000 calories. I was stuffed. Finally my hunger was satisfied.

…until 3 hours later. When EH came flying through the air, to slap me in the face again. Another 3000 calories ere consumed in about 2-3 hours.

I lost track of time.

I lost track of what I ate.

I just kept wanting more food.

I thought it wouldn’t end.

I felt stuffed.

I felt gross.

I felt guilty.

I felt a bit like Augustus Gloop.

These are all unhealthy thoughts but I have to remember that I can not just eat and be okay with that yet. Being comfortable with eating will come with time and practice (and eating, of course).

Since recovery, consuming whole packets has become the norm. Hearing that someone has eaten 3000 calories in a day seems like the bare minimum. Feeling bloated ALL the time is just a background bodily sensation.

Its not easy. In fact, I spend 99% of my time thinking ‘I just want to eat a normal meal. I just want to be normal. When will this extreme hunger end?! When will I stop feeling like a 9 month pregnant woman?!’ The answer is soon. I just have to keep going. Keep listening and keep responding to my hunger.

I spent/spend a long time being fearful that I am developing binge-eating disorder but I can assure us all that:

a) My emotions do not cause my eating. Rather, my eating causes emotions. Therefore, this is not binge-eating.

b) It is highly unlikely that someone with a Restrictive Eating Disorder will develop binge-eating disorder. They are very different spectrums.

c) I still very much have the ability to restrict, unlike someone with binge-eating disorder. (Although I definitely do not try to restrict and definitely do not intend to practice any restrictive methods because it would hinder my recovery.)

d) Even if I did have binge-eating disorder, it would not be the worst thing. At current, my aim is to gain weight and gain my life back. If it appears that I have developed binging habits, then I can meet that bridge when I am weight restored and explore the issues there.

EH is a very scary process, I won’t deny it.

Some of my hours were also consumed by me questioning my EH. Here’s some advice:

Do not question your hunger. If you are considering eating. Eat. Eat. Eat.

You’re in recovery. If you do not eat now, when will you eat?!

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I would like to mention that many people feel like they need to eat less during the day because they experience EH at night. This is aa restrictive and controlling habit and should be avoided. I have managed to overcome this by allowing myself to experience my EH during the morning. Turns out, I don’t particularly end up eating that much more in a day, just because I start eating more earlier. Logically.

On a final note… Let us try and enjoy our EH. Once its gone, we’ll no longer want to eat LOADS and that’ll be rather a shame… won’t it?

Some important and helpful links on the topic:

Personal, heart-felt recounts of  EH here, here, here and here

Information on what EH is here and here

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Riding the Recovery Road

Twenty-eight days ago I began my ‘real’ recovery. I took the plunge on committing to the Minnie Maud guidelines. Eleven days ago, I was fully enrolled in the guidelines and began eating 3000 calories as a minimum. Since then, the days have been a bumpy road of emotions.

During my period of quasi-recovery, when I was reading up on Minnie Maud, I did not think recovery would be as much of a bumpy ride for me as it was described – extreme hunger, bloating, water retention, tiredness, crazy emotions. Boy was I wrong. This last week has been tough, confusing and exhausting.

Extreme hunger

For many in recovery, they do not experience extreme hunger, some experience it a little, while for others its hits them hard. I’m one of the latter. It hit me on 31st of May and has not ceased since.

I eat breakfast. Then I eat more. Then I eat more. Then I feel physically full. Then I eat more. Sounds like binging, right? To all definitions of the word, yes. However, in our case, it is just our bodies screaming for more food, in fear that it will be deprived again. I like to imagine it like this: We’ve stopped our bodies from having enough food for a long period of time, and so, it has to compensate for this. All those missed chocolate bars? Must. Be. Eaten. All those missed pizzas? Must. Be. Eaten. All those tubs of ice cream? Must be eaten.

It explains why I crave Ben & Jerry’s so much – for months we had Cookie Dough ice cream in the freezer untouched by me. Do I crave pickles, celery and bell peppers? Not so much.

Extreme hunger feels uncontrollable. I constantly feel full but yet, I always feel empty. My brain doesn’t stop thinking about food. Its exhausting. I just want food all of the time.

I won’t lie. It is petrifying. It contradicts all my Anorexic ‘morals’ and controls. I fear my eating will never end. It will though. It will.

Bloating

I am pregnant.

Okay, not literally.

I feel like I am though. My stomach protrudes so far that I almost can not see my feet. My butt is smaller than my stomach. I can assure you, this is not a sexy look. Not in the slightest.

I keep having tor reassure myself that this will pass. Its not a result of simply eating. The bloating is a consequence of starving myself because now I have to re-feed myself on ‘ridiculous’ amounts of food. When I am weight restored, the bloating will disappear and I can admire my feet again – WOOH.

Water retention

This is the bane of recovery. I feel like a water balloon: heavy, wobbly, full of water and ready to burst.

My skin is tender. This makes receiving much-needed cuddles off my family a near impossibility.

My body looks like a Lego man. I have a square middle section, with four weird looking limbs and a puffy head. It kindly adds to the unattractiveness that the bloating already created.

On a more positive note, I like to think of it as kind of amazing. Our bodies know better than our logics. My body has responded to more food by healing me. Did I have to ask it to? Did I have to consciously make it repair the damage my Anorexia has left in its footpath? No. It knows what to do because it is evolved to carry out processes that will ensure living is optimal. Therefore, why would it ever let me become fat, if it wants what is best for me? Its wouldn’t. It won’t. If I trust my body, it will make me be healthy. I don’t need logic to achieve this.

Tiredness

The lethargic lifestyle has become common to me. I stay at home whenever possible, I laze around on the sofa and just eat.

I end up questioning, ‘how do I feel so tired when I am finally giving myself more energy?’. Turns out, it is because my body is repairing and restoring. It has a lot of food to process and a lot of damage to mend. I guess that just gives me a good excuse to not go to college then!

I still struggle to focus on information, conversations and tasks and so, my life consists of eating and resting. I suppose that is what recovery is all about, but man, it sucks sometimes.

Crazy emotions

One minute I am giggling at how I ate a whole loaf of bread. The next I am sobbing because my face is too puffy and I can’t see my feet.

It is frustrating. My emotions take me for a ride down a seriously bumpy road and when I am constantly exhausted it is the last thing I need.

I just have to bare with it and embrace the fact I am no longer numb but instead, I am experiencing. This is far better than ‘living’ through the haze of my Anorexia.

I am far from happy – that is something I hope to work through with my therapy – but being able to feel again is exhilarating, no matter whether it is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotion. I just have to sit through these emotions and ride them out.

All of these factors make riding the road of recovery a bumpy and uncertain journey. Recovery could, in no way, shape or form, be described as ‘easy’. Those of us in recovery are not only struggling with the concept of eating a lot more than our EDs permit,  but also we are faced with these other struggles that may come as a bit of a slap in the face – sudden, painful and scary.

Staying at home seems necessary at this stage. How could I possibly enter public when all I do is eat, sleep and extreme emotions?! My greatest admirations is for anyone out there in recovery who is holding down a job, looking after kids or any other life role that does not include eating and sleeping. In have no idea how you manage it.

I feel this post may seem quite negative but honestly, there’s no other way to phrase it: Recovery Is Difficult. I feel like a toddler with a big cute round tum-tum and emotional tantrums.

However, I can reassure you that everyday in recovery, I remember just how dire and horrible it was to be in the depths of my Anorexia. it scares me that I lived there. It scares me that without recovery, I would still be there. It scares me that so many people out there are still in that distressing place. I wish that everyone chose recovery because it is worth it. Each day in recovery is miles better than any day with and Eating Disorder. Consequently, I will face these struggles head on because I want to feel alive again.

Bring it on.

Knock Knock. ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Hunger.’

I’m writing this post for a few reasons. Partly because I started this blog to talk about my recovery process; partly because I find writing out the ups and downs and lefts and rights of my life helps me understand myself a little better; and finally, partly because I could not find a post online about this…. ‘This’ being the moment when you LET THE HUNGER HAPPEN. I thought to myself, ‘if this is not written about, there is a stigma and thus, the stigma must be eradicated.’

On 29th May, I increased my intake onto the minimum calorie recommendation intake for me, based on the Minnie Maud guidelines. It was a scary step because it was the ‘final’ step of committing to this recovery journey I am embarking on. It hit me a few times just how much I was eating and I found myself reflecting on the changes I have made in such a short space of time. This brought conflicting thoughts –as always, owing to our old nemesis called Anorexia – of how great it is that I am becoming healthier and managing to nourish myself, but also the immense fear of losing the control and identity that I have lived with for so long. I am slowly cutting strings with my Anorexia and it is scary.

That night, after consuming exactly my minimum calorie recommendation, I searched and scanned and foraged the internet for information on giving into hunger. I had felt hungry several times throughout the day but I felt such guilt for it. Why was I hungry when I was eating ‘SO MUCH’?! Although I could not rationalise it with myself, I know it is because my body has been deprived for so long. I wanted some reassurance that giving into my hunger is OK. I was not even sure of how to go about it. It was a completely new concept for me to consciously allow my hunger to determine whether I ate or not. Restriction was familiar and comforting… My hunger on the other hand, is like an angry tiger that has been locked in a cage for far too long. Letting it out of the cage seems dangerous. Ultimately though, it is best to free the beautiful creature, because it belongs in the wild.

The next morning, I ate breakfast as usual. However, on ‘finishing’ it, I realised I was still hungry. I panicked a little. Then, I made a choice. I chose to allow this hunger. Accept it. I ‘over’ ate. It was fabulous. It was terrifying. It was brave. It had to be done. I had intense feelings of guilt, which were rooted in my Anorexia. I felt like a forgery. Was I ever anorexic? How can I eat so ‘easily’? These thoughts prove that I do have an eating disorder but what I realise is essential here is that what matters upmost is who I am today. Each day. Not who I allowed myself to become in the past.

I could not have managed this day without the support of others. I needed to have external perspective to remind me that everything is okay and I am on the right path. Without this, I may have turned to restriction which would have been critically bad. I am forever grateful to the supportive people in my life.

By the time of mid-morning snack, which was not long after finishing my elongated breakfast, I was no longer hungry. I was pleasantly full. I did not eat snack because I did not need to as I was on target for my calories. Then lunch came and I ate it and managed it okay. Same with afternoon snack and then dinner and later my evening snack. Following this, I decided I was still hungry and do you know what a hungry girl has to do in recovery? You got it – She Must Eat. So I had additional ice cream. I was not supressing my desire for food but just feeding myself as I should. This progression and acceptance of hunger felt secure and reassuring but it was also combined with the insecurity and fear.

There goes contradictory Anorexia again.

I suppose it was like I was taking a jump from a diving board:

I walked up to the edge.

I hesitated.

I took a step back.

I cautiously edged my way forward again.

I peered over the edge.

It is such a long way to the aqua water below.

I take a deep breath.

I jump.

The falling feeling flurries through my body.

The sinking sensation stirs me.

But… I’ve landed safely.

The water is refreshing.

The new elements are exhilarating.

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The next day rolled around soon enough and I found myself having a delicious banana oatmeal breakfast. My sister and I were having a relaxed morning so my morning snack and breakfast merged into one. I suppose this is a step for me because usually I would conform to a habit of eating at specific times and set meals and snacks.

Lunch followed as usual and then when afternoon snack arrived I thought to myself, ‘I’m up for a challenge’. For me, I feel this is an important part of recovery; recognising when you can challenge yourself and trying it. I decided to eat pork scratchings straight out of the packet, until I was satisfied, as opposed to my usual habit of weighing out the ‘correct’ calorie portion size. As a result, I ate more than I would have if I had stuck to my normal routines. And… that is okay. No. That is great. I was allowing my body to tell me what I wanted and not my logic. This is overriding my eating disorder. Challenge accomplished.

My evening is a whole new story to tell… I’m guessing you’re probably getting a little bleary-eyed currently, so I’ll give you a well deserved break. Hopefully see you on the next post!tumblr_mcpkjihwQ91rz7ziyo1_500

“I’m not ‘bad’ enough”

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you are in battle with a restrictive eating disorder. Thus, I assume, wrongly or rightly, the title may strike a chord with you.

Restrictive eating disorders make us competitive. I find myself comparing my situation to other’s: “Am I as ‘bad’ as them?”. Its a downward spiral, fuelled by my Anorexia’s goal of being in infinite control.

The ‘best’ Anorexia grips someone so tightly that they die.

Yet a dead person can no longer be in the grips of Anorexia.

Thus, the Anorexia has ‘failed’.

There is no ‘level’ to an Eating Disorder. We don’t deserve to recover at a certain weight, after a certain number of hospital admissions, after a certain length of time suffering… We deserve to be happy. Eating disorders are miserable and we are all at this ‘level’. Its not a measure that needs comparing. No numbers can tell us we are ‘bad’ enough to recover. Only we can tell ourselves that we deserve recovery and WE ALL DO.

It angers me that doctors imply something different. They don’t seem to be bothered unless we are at a critical weight and hence, people across the country at a ‘healthy’ weight are suffering, and even dying, from eating disorders because the doctor doesn’t see a requirement to help them.

I was shown a BMI chart the other week. It told me what ‘level’ my Anorexia was. My disordered mind told me that I want to be at the lowest level possible. Disappearing into nothing. Ultimately death.

This chart is all kinds of wrong. I want to be happy. I deserve to be happy. Whether I am on the lowest BMI/Anorexia level or not even apparently on the spectrum, if I am even questioning whether I am ‘bad’ enough, I have a problem. I am worthy of recovery. No doctor or chart or number can tell me any different.

So, here are four precious pieces of advice I give to myself. You may take it on board yourself if you wish…

  • Take yourself seriously. Your struggles are real, individual and not to be downplayed by your ED.
  • See it as a positive thing that your misery did not result in a worse situation – I am so lucky to have never been admitted to hospital. Hospital is best left as a last resort.
  • Remember recovery is your own. It does not compare to anything or anyone else. So own it. Its yours. Be proud of it.
  • It will not construct a healthy recovery to strive to be ‘more ill’. Strive to be living life. That’s where the good stuff is at.

“No matter how fat or thin you are, no matter how old or young you are, if your eating is fucked up, then it’s fucked up. You need help, and care, and love, but most importantly it’s got to come from yourself, too.”

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A week of breakfasts!

If we look back a month or so ago, I would have not touched breakfast with a barge-pole unless my parents had their wary eyes on me. And even then, it would have been minimal oats with water. If we look back over this past week since I’ve started my ‘real’ recovery, it paints a whole different image – a world of delicious and nourishing breakfasts foods to get my day of to a good start.

I won’t lie, its been tough to go through such a change of eating and it creates a lot of mental challenges for me but honestly, I enjoy eating breakfast! I may get the shakes, I may feel a little panicky, I may get quite stressed out BUT its far better than having 5 cups of black coffee, a grumbling tummy and barely enough energy to walk out the door.

I’m one step closer to fully Minnie Maud-ing (check out my youreatopia.com to find put about MM recovery plan) and honestly, there hasn’t been a day where I’ve regretted making the decision to start.

So… here’s my week of breakfasts. Not all of my breakfast is necessarily photographed, because I have to eat *** calories, so I often end up topping up with lattes, fruit, waffles and ice cream! Apologies for the slightly unattractive appearance of them; photography is not my strong point!

  • What’s your favourite breakfast?
  • What’s your favourite meal of the day?
  • What’s changed in your life over the past month?

Dear Anorexia….

This is a very personal, raw and deep post but I feel it is important for me to share with you the letter I wrote today to my ‘anorexic’ self.

Dear Anorexia…

I have to commend you on your strength and skill at what you do. Your voice persuades me past the point of rationality. Your voices pressures me past the point of intelligence. Your voice persuades me to listen. Forces me to listen.

For so long, you’ve been the stronger one and I admire that strength. In fact, I idolise that strength because one day, I will be that strong. I am that strong.

You cast a dark cloak over my life, which I have to focus hard on to remember. I spent hours alone with you – in my room, in my head, in our own world. I knew there was a way out from under this cloak but you convinced me to stay – it was easier to stay under the protection of your dark cloak.

I love you. I miss you. I resent you. I hate you. I loath you. I fear you.

You tricked me. You betrayed me. You hurt me. You ruined me. You suffocated me. You starved me.

How did I allow you to take me there? Under that cloak was an welcoming of self-hatred and loathing, an acceptance of mortality, a belief that loneliness was a way of life, a constant cycle of exhaustion. I am so angry and you for holding me under this cloak and yet, I am angry at myself for accepting your icy embrace.

Not only was my mind clenched in your firmly shut fists but so was my body. How did you make me so cold? How did you make me so pale? How did you make me so unrecognisable?

You fed me on false encouragements; not on the nourishment that I needed. My self worth plummeted like the digits on the scale, like the calories on my plate, like the smiles on my face. I became a body with no soul – so fragmented and distorted was my mind and world. I saw days through foggy glass; everything so externalised.

You said you’d love me one day when I had perfected myself more. I kept trying but ultimately, I realised that this was an impossible task – an endless dark dust track.

I can’t leave you Anorexia, you are an ingrained part of me that I must learn to help develop into something beautiful. If I learn to love myself, perhaps you will learn that everyone deserves happiness, care and life. I know you are scared; I’m scared too. Our power balance has been shifted and I am holding the reins now. I want to be happy and you aren’t able to let me have that, so no matter how much I miss the comfort of that cloak you hold, its time to hang the cloak up now and allow the sun to shine down on us serendipitously.

Without you in control, I do not know who I will be but I am finally ready to find out.  I am turning down the volume of your gripping, bullying tone and its the most scary sensation… What if no one cares about me when I am without you? What if I am alone and even you are gone? What if I become an uncontrollable slob without you in power?

I’ll tell you ‘what-if?’; I will be okay and it is worth a damn good try because you were killing me Anorexia. You had so much power, I put my life in your hands. I want my life back now. I will force it from your grip, no matter how much of a challenge it is.

Best wishes,

Ruth x

heartss

…plunged into a pool of chocolate porridge

Happy Wednesday people! (“On Wednesday’s, we wear pink”)

Today was my first day eating 2200… Almost DOUBLE my usual:O Scary stuff but, HEY, I’m here, alive and I’m OKAY. So big whoop for me! 😀

Oh, I forgot to mention, I had a Math exam too. Yah. Gah. Eeh.

It was an uber-stressful morning all round, so just give me a few moments  to babble please…

6:30am : *ALARM BEEP BEEP BEEP* I roll over. I switch it off. I roll back. I sleep.

7:00am : I should probably wake up. Balls.

7:15 am: I realise that we have no bananas and start panicking because it messes up my breakfast plan. So I find a pancake recipe that looks okay-ish and find all the ingredients only to then realise its all too stressful.

7:30 am: I return to my original plan of chocolate oatmeal, just replacing the banana with extra hazelnuts and some more milk in my latte!

My Chocolate Hazelnut breakfast porridge!

My Chocolate Hazelnut breakfast porridge!

Actually looks kind of gross haha! It was sooo filling and yummy though. See my previous post for the recipe.

8:00 am: I’m still eating this pool of chocolate porridge and begin stressing about the fact I should be leaving the house for my exam.

8:15 am:  Bags flying, keys jangling, shoes half on, hair half brushed and heart racing…I finally dash out the door.

8:30 am: Mum and I are blasting Caro Emerald,  enjoying the sun and singing along in the car on the way to my exam.

8:45 am: We hit traffic. OH HEEELLLLLLL NO.

8:55 am: I arrive at college with anxieties high after briskly walking the last bit of the journey because it was faster than driving it. I couldn’t even run owing to my physical state of anorexia…

8:57 am: I manage to find the room for my exam and walk in, only to realise I have no idea where I am supposed to sit. I approach the exam invigilator, with a silent audience of fellow students who watch me say “I don’t know where I am supposed to be…” . She stares blankly at me, “Go and check the list. You should know.”. I shuffle awkwardly back through the army of desks and out the door where I begin to cry. A sweet teaching assistant approaches me and asks me what’s wrong… So I blubber a response and he helps me find my name of the list: D1. Guess where D1 is?! CENTER. FLIPPING. FRONT.

8:59 am: I am finally in my exam seat. Eyes already too puffy to focus on the paper.

9:00 am: The exam begins. I take a deep breath. Feel my feet on the ground. Close my eyes. Let my energy dissipate to the floor. I focus on my breath for a few moments and anchor myself. ‘its okay’.

10:30 am: The exams is over and it went okay, Not as brilliantly as the practice papers but still a cope-able level. I am trying to decrease the pressure on myself to be a perfectionist and just trying to accept that its okay not to achieve the best standard all the time.

10:31 am: I turn into an emotional wreck as the waves of stress hit me all at once; so I locate my bag and make my way through herds of chattering students to the toilets where I lock myself in the nearest stall and sob like a baby.

10:35 am: I make it out the car, face embellished with pink puffy-ness and salty tears. My mum gives me a seriously needed hug. Love my mum’s hugs!

So as you can see, I had a bit of a rollercoaster of a morning. On the plus side, I had a lovely day with my mum doing various things and successfully managed to indulge in some dark chocolate for my afternoon snack!

  • Have you seen Mean Girls? Sorry, stupid question… How many times have you seen mean girls?
  • What’s your verdict on dark chocolate?
Enjoying the first bit of dark chocolate I've had In months! Lindt salted caramel<3

Enjoying the first bit of dark chocolate I’ve had In months! Lindt salted caramel<3

The deep breath before the plunge

Welcome to my first post!

Let me set the scene…

It’s just turned 00:40 on the laptop’s clock, which is currently buzzing away in front of me while I lay on my bed, hot water bottle clutched to my chest. I have my first AS exam in about 8 hours time and yet I’m awake worrying about something totally different:

Tomorrow (or do I call it today?) I am upping my intake from 1200-1300 calories to 2200.

I am sh*tting it.

I have no idea what to expect….how I will cope…what it all means…blaaaaaaaaah. Gaaaaaaah. Aghhhhhhhh.

It all started when I discovered the Minnie Maude guidelines (see youreatopia.com for more information on this) and they really appealed to me as a method of recovery. I spent a week or so talking it over with my family and then spoke to my dietician. She was concerned that an increase to 3000, as the guidelines suggest, may result in re-feeding syndrome. Consequently, we agreed I would have 2200 this week; 2700 next week and 3000 the following week. I certainly am willing to avoid the risk of a cardiac arrest at all costs – thanks.

I am aware however that this means I will not initially be giving into any ‘extreme hunger’ as I will exceed my 2200 limit. This annoys me a little because I just want to take the plunge and just EAT but a) that would be physically harmful and b) i’m probably psychologically not strong enough yet.

So… Tomorrow will go as follows:

500 calories for Breakfast

600 calories for lunch

500 calories for dinner

AND 200 calories for each snack after each meal.

I spent the last hour deciding what I want for breakfast and decided on cocoa and hazelnut porridge. The recipe is designed by moi and I’ll let you know what I rate it, without being too biased of course…

1/2 cup Semi Skimmed Goats Milk
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 large Banana sliced/mashed
1 tbsp. Raw Coconut Nectar (or use sugar or maple syrup)
7g chopped Hazelnuts

I will heat all the ingredients in a pan and stir until thickened. I may reserve some banana, nuts and nectar to serve! In addition, I will have 100ml of semi skimmed goat’s milk made into a cappuccino!

I guess part of me is very excited about tomorrow because I’ll actually be eating and indulging but my anorexia head is also whispering in my ear ‘you’re so disgusting for wanting to eat so much. You shouldn’t allow yourself. You’ll lose control and get FAT’. I must stay strong and determined. I can do this. I will do this. I deserve to eat. It’s okay.

Anywaaay. Its now 01:15 and I really should get some rest – got a big day ahead of me.

Here’s a cute image to lighten the mood:

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