Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Anorexia and OCD

Over the years I have developed some pretty strange eating habits
They are like little rituals that have to be done in a certain way
Here's an example of a few of them

I drink a lot of tea and I'm very particular about what cup I drink out of
I only drink out of certain cups and I have about 10 that I use
They have to be narrow cups
Tall and thin so they stay hotter for longer
I'm not sure why but I won't drink out of just any cup
It has to be the right cup and if it's not I don't enjoy the tea as much
I remember in treatment there was a little kitchenette on the ward
Cups were provided but all the eating disorder girls brought in their own cups including me
One day a new girl (not an ed patient) came on to the ward and she started to use my cup
She drank out of it for a couple of days and I was silently seething
Eventually I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to say it to her
She was very apologetic and I felt kind of silly making a big deal out of it but I was very attached to that cup
Oh my God, I'm officially losing it
Who gets attached to a cup?
I also eat a lot of things out of cups instead of bowls including soup and ice cream
I have to have a cup of tea with a cigarette
I take a sip between each drag
Here's a couple of my favourite cups
The one on the left has a lid and a tea strainer
The one on the right is the one I used in treatment

I'm very particular about what cutlery I use
I have certain knives, forks and spoons that I use
And also bowls and plates
Again I'm not sure why but only these ones will do
I tend to go for small plates and bowls
If I am eating soup I use a tea spoon
I think this may be because it takes longer to eat that way

Conditions have to be perfect when I'm eating
I don't eat at the kitchen table and I definitely don't eat with other people
I prepare my food in the kitchen and then bring it in to the living room
I sit cross legged on the floor beside the fire place
I like to watch tv while I'm eating
Sometimes if the ads come on, I stop eating until my programme comes back on
Well, there's more
I'm a condiment junkie
I put brown sauce on everything
Also I keep the salt and pepper beside me at all times while I'm eating
I remember when I was a child eating dinner I used to keep the meat until last as it was my favourite part of the meal
I usually choose food that takes a short time to prepare and a long time to eat
I eat pretty slowly
Savouring every mouthful
Although if I'm binging I eat quite quickly
I think it's a huge myth that people with anorexia don't like food and we survive on lettuce
I love my food just as much as the next person
Maybe even more
And contrary to popular belief I eat chocolate and carbs and sweets
The second I finish eating the urge to purge is overwhelming
It is also a ritual
I'm already on the way to the bathroom as I'm chewing the last mouthful
I lock the bathroom door
Tie my hair back
Roll up my sleeves
Lift up  the toilet seat
Bow over the toilet and proceed to purge
Afterwards I clean the toilet, wash my hands and face, being careful not to leave any evidence
Like it never happened

I absolutely hate it if someone interrupts my eating
I just can't talk to anyone while I'm eating
Meal times are supposed to a social occasion but for me it's a solitary affair
Also I can't stand to let others see me eat
For me it's the equivalent of going to the toilet in front of someone

At bedtime I have another ritual
At 10pm I make myself a ham and mustard sandwich and leave it down in my bedroom ready for when I go to bed (My dog has been known to find it and eat while lying on my bed)
When I'm going to bed I make myself a cup of tea and eat the sandwich in bed reading a book
I cut the sandwich in to small squares and eat them all the same way, bite by bite
I've done this every night for years
I then purge and go back to bed
Often I will wake up in the middle of the night and have a cup of tea and a biscuit
It's not unusual for me to get up 2 or 3 times a night
I hate that I do this but I can't seem to stop

All these rules and rituals give me comfort
They make me feel safe
Like there is order in my world
I have my little routine and if something upsets it I get pretty anxious
Even something like an unexpected visitor can send me in to a tailspin
I am definitely a creature of habit
And once I have a rule or ritual I find it very difficult to break it
They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit
And my having an addictive personality means I develop habits quickly
I used to be spontaneous
I used to do things on the spur of the moment
At the drop of a hat
But now I can't imagine being like that again even though I would like to
I think I use the rules and rituals as a way to deal with anxiety
If I do these things I feel calm and more in control
This is why anything unexpected throws me for a loop
Mary said that she only asked me to the talk 2 days before  because she knew if she asked me weeks in advance, I would have spent that time worrying about it
And she's right
My anxiety usually stems from  the future, the unknown
Not knowing what's going to happen causes me huge anxiety
And so I create all these little habits to ease it
I keep my cigarettes on the mantel piece
I line the box up so it's exactly on the edge
Then I make sure my lighter is exactly on the middle of the box
I suspect that I may have OCD tendencies
Although I've never spoken about it to anyone
But over time I've noticed that it's getting worse
More and more rules get added
Most of them have to do with food though so it may just be part of my eating disorder
When I'm eating crisps ( yes I do eat crisps!) I always have them with tea
I eat 2 crisps, have a sip of tea
2 more, have a sip of tea
I like things to be in even numbers
That feels right
Odd numbers just feel wrong for some reason

Am I the only one?
Do you have any rules or rituals like mine?
Do your centre mostly around food?
Inquiring minds want to know.......

Monday, 25 February 2013

Novacaine for the soul

My teeth are in really bad shape
This is due to a number of reasons
Years of not looking after them when I was in active addiction
12 years of bulimia
And also methadone
Methadone is a green syrup, full of sugar and over time it has taken it's toll
Smoking has also caused significant damage
I started the big job of getting my teeth fixed last year
I found a lovely dentist and over time he has done a lot of work on them
5 extractions and numerous fillings
I visited him again last week
I probably would have avoided it for as long as possible but my father talked me in to going
I would have done anything to get out of it
I would have happily eaten my foot rather than go

We drove in to town and parked the car in a car park I don't usually use
I thought it would be quicker to walk back out through the car park rather than going through the shopping centre
All of a sudden I had no idea where I was
An icy wind was blowing as we tried to make our way through the maze of narrow streets
I don't know how but we actually managed to get lost in my own town
I know I have a bad sense of direction but this was ridiculous
My father wanted to ask someone for directions but my pride wouldn't allow it
Eventually I saw a street I recognized and we headed for the dentist

The waiting room was full of men
I felt a little bit silly being there with my father like I was a child but he insisted on coming with me
I sat patiently reading about Harry from One Direction's love life
(He has split from Taylor Swift if you're interested.  Does anyone actually care about that stuff?)
'Come straight in' said the dentist
He's a tall man with a shock of white hair and kind eyes
'Are you still off the.........?'
It's always the first question he asks me
He means am I still off drugs
For some reason he doesn't seem to be able to say the word drugs
Is drugs a bad word?
Maybe he's just being polite
I took my jacket off and for some stupid reason I draped it over the back of the dentist's chair
'No no, hang it up' he said
I walked over to the hanger nearly knocking over his tray instruments on my way
I settled in to the chair
Just then the receptionist stuck her head in the door and said
'Remember Ruby, if he's hurting you raise your hand and he'll stop'
What the....?
The way she said it was as if she was expecting him to hurt me
And you can bet your ass of he's hurting me I'll be doing a lot more than raising my hand

'What can I do for you?' he asked
I explained that I needed a couple  of fillings
'Ok let's get started'
He lowered the chair so much that the top of my head was resting against his chest
I wasn't comfortable being so close so I tried to pull myself down
'Open wide'
I tried to open my mouth as wide as I could but I have a cut at the corner of my mouth (from purging)
I could feel the skin crack and split as the skin was stretched apart
I tasted fresh blood on my lips
He examined my teeth and decided which ones to fill
He then produced an obscenely large needle and injected anaesthetic in to my gum
I hate this part
I'm not afraid of needles, I just hate the sensation
He injected in 3 different places and just when I thought I couldn't stand the pain any longer, my gums started to go numb
I liked the feeling
How I wish there was something this effective for the mind
Novocaine for the soul

I went back to the waiting room to wait for the lovely numbness to spread around my gums
I was worried he's leave me to long and it would wear off but a couple of minutes later he called me back in
Back in the chair he got to work
I keep my eyes firmly closed because I don't want to see any of the torturous looking instruments
He begins to drill
It's sounds horrific as it grinds against my teeth
It doesn't hurt but it sounds like it should hurt
I feel a lot of pressure
So much so that it feels like my jaw might dislocate
He alternates between drilling and scraping
The noise is so loud in my ears
Like nails on a chalkboard amplified
My body is completely tensed
My knees pulled up
My eyes are squeezed shut
I can only imagine what this would feel like without anaesthetic
He moves on to my front teeth
Inching ever closer away from the numb area
All of a sudden I feel a lighting bolt of pain
Like he hit a raw nerve
'No!' I shouted as best I could
'Sorry' he said 'Nearly finished'
More drilling
More pressure
And then he said the magic words 'All done'
My body immediately relaxed and I opened my eyes
I collected my composure and thanked him
The dentist then went out to my father and told him what work he had done
He actually spoke to my father instead of me
I felt like a 10 year old child there with my parent
I felt like saying 'Hello! I am here you know, they're my teeth, surely you should be talking to me'
My father really didn't need to come with me but as ever he won't take no for an answer
I'm planning to have a serious talk with him this week about not being involved in every little bit of my life but I'll save that for another post

My teeth look and feel a lot better now
They're far from perfect but at least they're not is the desperate state they were in
This is just another thing in the long list of things I have lost to my eating disorder
Years of purging, washing my teeth in stomach acid up to 10 times a day have all but ruined them
Purging is the bane of my life at the moment
A few days ago I was in the middle of a binge when my father asked me 'Ruby, when are you going to do something about this?'
I was a bit taken aback because I didn't think he had noticed my binging
I may think that I am hiding a binge but in reality of course people know
Listening to my mother give her speech last week, I realise that she notices everything
She sees my constant march from the kitchen to the bathroom
She's aware of how many times a day I purge
Even though I may think it's not, it's blatantly obvious
I think when someone gets ill with an eating disorder the whole family becomes ill
It infects everyone within a certain radius
Like a stone in a pond it has a ripple effect

Bulimia I am so very tired if you
Go away
Please just go away
And take your friend ana with you
You're not welcome here anymore

If you are bulimic, has it effected your teeth?

Saturday, 23 February 2013


I want to thank the lovely Lou over at 'My life with ed, ana, mia and neurosis' for nominating me for the best blog 2013 award
Lou you are a star
It means all the more to me coming from you as you were the first blog I started reading and I've been following your story for over a year

I'm supposed to let you know five things about myself so here goes

I'm trying to write my memoirs

I lost 2 pounds this week

My dream is to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain some day

I hate leaving the house

I sleep with the light on

I'm supposed to nominate 5 other bloggers but I can't do this for a couple of reasons
Last time  I was nominated for an award someone got annoyed with me for not nominating them. They unfollowed me and I haven't heard from them since
So you see I'm reluctant to do that again
Also I couldn't pick just 5
I read so many blogs that I just couldn't narrow it down

So thanks again Lou
I appreciate your nomination

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Silver Linings

I started writing this blog about 8 months ago
I had been reading blogs for a while before I finally decided to write my own
My family are all big readers and my brother is a writer so I've always had a love of books and writing
I started writing because I wanted to connect with others who are in the position as me
I thought that we could help each other
And having pushed all my friends away I really needed like minded people to talk to
Starting this blog turned out to be one of the better decisions I have made
I remember getting my first comment and my first follower
I was so  happy that someone had taken the time to read what I had written
Writing has given me a purpose
A reason to get up in the morning
Writing this blog has literally saved my life over and over again

I wanted to write about this today as my doctor raised some concerns about my blog
He wonders if it hinders me rather than helps me
He says people who have full and happy lives don't have time to blog
I don't think I agree with that but I can see his point in some ways
As well as all the positives there are a couple of negatives
When I write I tend to only write about my eating disorder or drug addiction
Him and Mary are always telling me that I need to find other interests
That I need to spend less time on my eating disorder
I agree with this
Out of the 24 hours in a day, I spend about 23 hours reading, writing, thinking and talking about my eating disorder
Everything else plays second fiddle
Their point is that if I found something else to do then I wouldn't be giving so much attention to my eating disorder
But so far I haven't been able to do this

Also reading other blogs I run the risk of being triggered
And there is the temptation to compare myself to others
I find reading other peoples weight very triggering
That's part of the reason that I don't reveal mine
I read a mixture of recovery blogs and blogs of people who are choosing not to recover
I guess that's a reflection of my state of mind
Somewhere between the two
But then again triggers are absolutely everywhere
On tv
In magazines
On the street
On the internet
So it's hard to escape them
It's up to me how I respond to them

But overall blogging has been a really positive thing for me
I've met some truly dear friends here
Friends that I've grown to love and really care about
We may never meet each other
We might not even know each others real names
But we identify with each other
We are all living different version of the same life
My blog is my safe place
A place to vent
To share my sorrow and happiness
To share my darkest secrets
Painful memories
To let the demons out of my head

To tell the things I can't tell anyone else
Where I can truly be me without fear of judgement
We have a unique community here
We come from the 4 corners of the earth but we are bound by a common thread
We are eating disordered
We are hurting
We are lonely
We are a bit lost
We are struggling
We don't know where we are going
Geographically we are worlds apart
We are different ages, races and nationality
We may never meet or speak
But I consider you some of my best friends

We know exactly how each other is feeling
Some of us are hanging on by our fingertips
Some of us are in pain that is almost impossible to bear
We are fighting a battle every minute of every day
Some of us just want to disappear
Some of us have given up hope
Food and weight rule our lives
Our every waking moment
No else understands but us
They try but they can't

We are all at different stages
Some of us are in recovery
Some are dipping their toe in
Some of us choose not
But we are all in this together
I receive unwavering support from you girls
And for that I am eternally grateful

In treatment, at meetings, in my life and through this blog I have met some amazing people
People suffering with eating disorders are some of the most beautiful, caring, loving, talented, artistic and sensitive people I have ever met
I think we are hyper sensitive
We feel pain and hurt so very easily
But it also means that we feel compassion and empathy for others
I think about the friends I've made here a lot
I wonder how you are doing
I worry if you are going through a hard time
Sometimes bloggers disappear
One day they are there and the next they are gone
I wonder what happened to them
Did they recover?
Did they get worse?
Dis they go to treatment?
Did they die?

This blog and you girls have literally saved my life over and over again
Reading comments makes my day
I've been shown such unconditional love and support that sometimes it's overwhelming
I don't consider myself a great speaker so writing is ideal for me
And I've discovered a real passion for it

I feel so blessed to be part of your journey
To get a glimpse in to your world
Some of you know me better than my own family 
They say every cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining is definitely the people I have met over the years
In hospital
In treatment
And here
People I would never have met other wise
You all have helped me more than you know
To know that I am not alone is something so precious
To know that you understand
That you feel the same
That you've been there too means so much

Having said all that I was wondering about you?
How long have you been blogging?
Has it been a positive or a negative in your life?