Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Aftermath

I'm home from Galway
It's a relief to be back in my safe little bubble
Where reality is suspended and I have complete control over everything
I really had to push myself this weekend
As I said in my last post my ED did  not want me to go
She screamed in my ear at the top of her lungs not to go
I could've easily backed out but I didn't
I really wanted to be there
And I'm so glad that I did go
I would've been angry with myself if I didn't
I did manage to enjoy myself
I chatted with my family
I ate lovely food
I smiled (albeit forced)
I laughed
Fake it 'til you make it as they say
I wore my new skirt and jumper
I did my hair and applied make up
I supported my brother
Isn't it always the way that the thoughts of something are worse than the actual event itself?

Bulimia did make an appearance though
On Friday my family went in to town and I opted out
I binged and purged multiple times
It's a strange experience binging and purging in someone else's house
I couldn't really relax for fear of someone coming home and catching me mid binge
I got through quite a lot of food
Food that didn't belong to me
But in that moment before a binge, I feel so crazed and ravenous for food, that who it belongs to just doesn't come in to it
I remember a few years ago I was sharing a flat with 3 girls in Dublin
I was 19 and although I wasn't aware of it yet, I already had an ED
We each had our own cupboards for food
I used to take the other girls food and then watched as they argued and blamed each other
It was really confusing because I didn't know why I was doing it
I just had this huge compulsion to eat and I couldn't stop myself

The other thing that I found especially difficult this weekend was the whole social thing
I am so out of practise so I found it a bit of a strain
There are members of my family who I an completely comfortable around but there are others who I don't
Plus they were all drinking and I don't drink alcohol so I didn't even have that to relax me
I hate not feeling comfortable in my own skin
I kind of stayed on the fringes of conversation
They talked and I mainly listened
I wish that I had a bit more confidence
To be able to walk in to a room and be able to talk to anyone
I guess everyone struggles a bit socially
I did my best though and that's all I can do

It's funny, the place where I have ever felt the most comfortable was in treatment, which was a psychiatric hospital
It wasn't a typical hospital though
This one was for people with money or insurance
The ward I was on was called St Brigid's
It wasn't just for ED patients
There were all kinds of people in there
People with anxiety or depression and other illness
I felt so free when I was in there
There was always someone to talk to and they understood exactly how I felt
People were so open about their problems and that was such a breath of fresh air
We cried
We laughed
We helped each other
Supported each other
I was myself and it felt amazing
I could take off my mask and just be Ruby
But in the real world people aren't so open
I miss that feeling

It was incredibly difficult not being able to weigh myself for the past 4 days
Of course in my head I imagined that I had gained 20 pounds
When I got home the first thing I did was weigh
I find weighing very anxiety provoking
Because I know the effect those numbers can have on my mood and self esteem
I hate that those numbers have so much power over me but they do
I stripped and carefully stepped on the scale
Holding my breath as if the air in my lungs would effect the number
The red numbers flickered and then settled
I had gained a grand total of 1 pound
Relief flooded through my body
I just couldn't handle any more than that

Since returning home I've been binging and purging non stop
I can't stop
I don't know how to stop
It's a relentless cycle of eat, throw up, eat, throw up........
I have a path worn from the kitchen to the bathroom
It's soul destroying
It leaves me mentally and physically exhausted
But I don't know how to stop
I'm spending a small fortune on food these days
I'm paranoid that the people in the shop know what I'm doing with all this food
Please bulimia just give me one day off
A chance to recharge my batteries
I just need a  rest
Some peace of mind
I want to get off this merry-go-round
This has to stop
It has to
I can't take another day with my head stuck in a toilet bowl
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the toilet water and I don't recognise myself anymore
I just a girl with papery skin and dead eyes
She's dead on the inside
She's lost
She's alone
She's afraid
She's me

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Book Launch

It's Sunday morning here in Galway
We're heading home in a couple of hours
I have to admit I am relieved to be going home
These days I am not a social butterfly
More like an anti social caterpillar
The book launch was a huge success
And I am truly delighted for my brother
But this weekend was quite testing for me
4 days of lunches, drinks, dinners, family
I did as much as I could but I opted out of dinner a couple of times
The one thing that nearly drove me insane was having no weighing scale
For all I know I could've gained 5 pounds
The first thing I do when I get home will be to jump on my scale
Please be kind scale

Two people told me that I look really well
Any normal or sane person would be delighted to hear this
But not me
When I hear the words 'really well' all I can think of is that I must look healthy and in other words fat
The first night we were out of drinks and my uncle shouted across to me
'Ruby you look really well, a lot better than you did in Italy'
I didn't know what to say so I just looked at him trying not to explode
My other uncle said
'You can't give Ruby a compliment'
So in the end I just said 'Thank you'
At this point I must tell you that in Italy I weighed almost a stone heavier
I just don't know how I could look better
I was still wondering this the next day so when we were out for a walk I asked my uncle why he thought I looked better now
He didn't really give me an answer so I decided to file it under 'I don't give a crap' in the back of my head

Even though I was around family most of the weekend, I still found time to binge and purge
It's not the easiest thing in the world doing that in someone else's house
You could be interrupted at any time
So I chose my moments carefully and I don't think anyone was the wiser
Although my brother might notice some food missing

I guess I dealt with the whole weekend better than I thought I would
I always seem to find that the thoughts of something are worse than the actual event itself
What I did notice though was how shy I've become
Even around my own family
This is what happens when you spend most of your days alone
You forget how to interact with others
You forget how to laugh
My family spend a lot of time taking the piss out of each other and I even forget how to do that
They all seem so easy around each other and I feel a bit disconnected
Like I am behind glass looking in at them
I suppose being social is something you have to practise
The more you do it the easier it becomes
I think that's why I like blogging so much
I feel much better able to write than to speak

I am glad that I came though
I'm glad I pushed through that fear and the anxiety
As I said before my brother and his girlfriend have been a massive support tome over the years so I really wanted to do this
My brother and his girlfriend have been together for 20 years and she is like a sister to me
She told that she read some of my blog after I came out of hospital as she wanted to see how I was doing
I feel a bit weird about family reading this blog as I don't want them to worry
I try not to censor what I write and I'm sure some of it can be a bit shocking to see what is going on inside my head

So yea I'm glad I pushed myself and didn't let things stop me from coming
It was a good weekend even if bulimia did make an unwanted appearance
It was great to see my brother so happy
He deserves this
He has worked so hard
And it's great to have something to celebrate for a change

I'll post properly tomorrow

All my love x

Thursday, 25 April 2013


I'm heading away today for a few days so I might not get to post until Sunday or Monday
A huge part of me doesn't want to go at all
Bulimia wants me to stay at home and take full advantage of having the house to myself
She wants me to stock up on all my favourite binge foods and binge and purge until I collapse
She wants me to stay in my pyjamas all day and watch tv
She wants me to isolate and avoid people like the plague
But I'm making myself go
After all it's not all about me, it's my brothers book launch
It's a huge deal for him and I want to be there
He and his girlfriend have been a massive support to me over the years, so it's only right to support him back

It's incredibly difficult dealing with an eating disorder is someone else's house
I find it really stressful not knowing when we are going to eat and where
It's like all the control has been taken away from me
So my plan is to eat along with everyone else and purge
I'll do this by eating smaller portions and eating regularly so I don't get the urge to binge
I'm already having separation anxiety at the thought of not being able to weigh myself every morning
I did consider bringing my scale but that would be weird
I know there is a scale in my brother's kitchen but the number would mean nothing
My weight was down again this morning
I've started to keep a record of it and it's slowly but surely decreasing
It does worry me a little
I'm sure my family will notice that I've lost
They'll hug me with pity in their eyes
God, I hate that look
That look that says 'Oh you poor thing'
I hate that look

I'm quite anxious about the next few days but these are the kind of things I need to do in order to get well
To do the opposite of what my eating disorder wants
I won't let anorexia and bulimia win this weekend
They will be angry but they will just have to suck it up
I'm also slightly dreading the whole social thing
I spend so much time on my own that now I'm a bit socially handicapped
And having to make polite conversation and eat at the same time is just too much
I didn't see Mary this week so I really missed
She is a tower of strength for me and she knows just what to say to help me
But I will go today
I will make an effort to be a sane person
I'll try to be normal
I'll try to be stable
I'll do my best no to let my ED ruin this weekend for me
I did think about leaving her at home as she is an unwelcome guest
But of course it's not that simple
I may try to leave her at home but no doubt she will stow away in the bottom of my bag and make an appearance
There is no getting away from her

Please think of me this weekend and wish me luck

All my love,

Ruby x

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The full feeling

My father saw an article in the paper about a 19 year old girl who died from anorexia/bulimia
She was purging so much that she dropped dead while watching tv
Her heart just stopped
Only 19 years old
The article didn't give much information but it did say that she had been struggling with her eating disorder since she was 13
I think my father got a bit of a shock as he has been on my case ever since
Asking me to get my electrolytes checked
To start eating regularly
I have had hospital admissions in the past due to electrolyte imbalance
It's so dangerous
So today he took it upon himself to make me dinner
A smaller portion of what he had
A lamb chop, mushrooms and potato
He asked me to sit at the table and eat with him
I never do this
I usually eat on my own and prefer it that way
But just to appease him I did eat at the table
Then he asked me to stay for a while after eating
In otherwords 'Please don't go and throw your guts up Ruby'
I agreed and to take my mind off the food in my stomach I am writing this post

I swear I don't know how people do this every day
3 times a day
How can they tolerate this horrible full feeling
I know I can't
It's feels so abnormal
So foreign
So wrong
What is wrong with me that I can't even deal with this
I know that my stomach has probably shrunk so it's bound to feel uncomfortable
It's not even the fear of weight gain
Realistically I know that one meal will not make me gain 10 pounds
It's just the full feeling that I hate
I've never been worried about calories
It's the volume of food that's my problem
I would much rather eat a chocolate bar than eat a plate of vegetables
Because I can't feel the chocolate
But the veg would make me feel full
I know that if I want to get well, this is the kind of thing I need to get used to
And it will prevent binging which in return will lessen the purging
But why is it so freakin' hard

My father commented on my weight to
Said I looked thinner
I have mixed feelings about that
The ED part of my brain is congratulating me
But the part that wants to recover is disappointed
I think I am now at the BMI where Mary has to stop seeing me
But I'm not seeing her until next week so I have a week to gain a little

My brother is a writer and his new book lunch is this weekend in Galway
Cue 4 days of family lunches and dinners
I want to go but I am slightly dreading it
People are going to see that I've lost weight and look at me with pity in their eyes
I hate that look
They will tell me to take care of myself
But it's futile to say that in the face of this illness
It just doesn't work

To be honest that article scared me a bit too
When it comes to my ED I always think 'Oh that will never happen to me'
But it could
It could so easily happen to me
To any one of us
I don't why but death doesn't always scare me
Life scares me more
But it's not just about me
I have a family who would be heartbroken anything happened to me
How do you come back from something like that?

Apologies for this disjointed post but I have to something to take my mind off this feeling in my stomach
I haven't had food in my stomach for this long in a long time
I don't think it quite knows what to do with it

Any advice on how to deal with the full feeling greatly appreciated

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rhodes Farm

Yesterday, I once again found myself perusing Youtube for ED documentaries
It's becoming something of a Sunday afternoon ritual
I stumbled across one about Rhodes Farm
Some of will know Rhodes farm
It's a treatment centre in the UK for children and adolescents run by Dee Dawson
At least she used to run it, apparently another company have taken it over

I'm not sure exactly when this documentary was made, I'm guessing the early 90's or even late 80's but I know more recent ones have been made since including 'Dana, the 8 year old anorexic'
Dee described how she used to work in a hospital as a paediatric nurse and saw children coming in that refused to eat
She thought to herself that if she could only bring them home, then she would surely get them to eat
So that's exactly what she did
She opened her home to children and teenagers with eating disorders
Many of whom already had multiple hospitalisations
At first I was watching the footage and there were these tiny children wandering around and I was thinking 'Who are they?'
Then I realised they were Dee's own children
This was literally her home and her family and her patients all lived together
I was also surprised and somewhat perplexed to see Dee breastfeeding one of her children while in a session with parents
I'm pretty sure that would never happen today
But I guess whatever works

We were introduced to a few of the teenagers
Simon really stood out to me
He spoke in a slow drawl and wore raggedy clothes
He was near death when he came to Rhodes Farm and Dee herself admitted he was an extremely difficult case
In his own words he said he was 'worthless'
But his personality shone through and he was so likeable
There was a touching scene with him and Dee's husband trying to cook and burning the food
Simon came across as very troubled
He absolutely hated himself
But even so it was obvious he has amazing potential

Another girl made for heart breaking viewing
Standing at 5'10 she weighed a meagre 41kilos
We saw her talking to Dee and telling her that she thought her mother also had an eating disorder
The girl left Rhodes Farm shortly after because they could not get funding for her stay
She left in the same sorry state the she came in

But the girl I could really identify with was Jackie
A soft spoken red head
At home she studied ballet, the one thing that brought her joy
We saw her watching videos of herself dancing and weeping
She said she felt like no one noticed her at home
She did dangerous things to get attention
I know that I did that as a teenager
Did outrageous things just to be noticed
Negative attention was better than no attention

I thought that Dee's methods really worked
Just the right blend of kindness and discipline
The kids obviously felt comfortable there
The house seemed to have a happy atmosphere and the kids seemed to thrive on this
The one common denominator I noticed with all the kids was that they all came from unhappy homes
Parents fighting
Parents separating
Parents remarrying
These kids felt unloved
Un noticed
In homes where they had no say and no control over what happened, they turned to the one thing they could control
Food became a weapon in a battle against their parents
They said with their bodies what they couldn't verbally articulate
I know my own home was a very unhappy place growing up
My parents weren't happy
Us kids were definitely not happy
It's actually very hard to describe how things were then
There was a very tense atmosphere in the house
Largely due to my father
He wasn't physically abusive
But he was a drinker and was emotionally abusive
I remember feeling so unsafe at home
He was just so unpredictable
As I grew in to a teenager and my older siblings left home, I was the only child left
I was caught in the middle of my parents fighting and I hated it
I left home the first chance I got and moved away with my boyfriend
My father is now reaping what he sowed
We left
My mother left
We all moved away
He now lives quite a lonely life
He comes to stay with me a couple of nights a week when my mother is working
They actually swap houses which is kind of strange but it seems to work for them
I'm probably the one who spends the most time with him
Now that I'm an adult I can see that he's not all bad
It's not badness that makes him do the things he does
I actually think it's insecurity and a need for control
Just recently when I was in hospital my mother had helped me to the bathroom
When we came back my father had his hand in my mothers bag and was going through her phone
I was just too weak to say anything
But his heart is in the right place
He does his best to help me and I appreciate that

I guess when you grow up you see that things aren't always black and white
I know my parents did the best they could
They couldn't have foreseen the damage the would be caused
I can now see that just because you're an adult, it doesn't mean you know everything
It doesn't mean you've grown up
It doesn't mean you're mature
Adults are just as lost as teenagers sometimes

There were a couple of things that didn't sit right with me though
We saw Dee preparing food one day and I have to say it looked pretty disgusting
Frozen meals that were probably full of preservatives and additives
Now I know  that things were different in the 90's
There wasn't such an emphasis on 'fresh is best'
I appreciate that she was probably doing the best she could on a tight budget and eating anything is better than nothing but you would think that the kids would be taught healthy eating habits

Another part that raised alarm bells for me was when Dee described how she was on a diet
She spoke openly about this
I thought that this was very strange and possibly damaging
On one hand she is teaching these kids that it's ok to eat
But on the other she is doing the opposite
Now there is nothing wrong with an innocent diet
But there are sick kids here and  it just felt all wrong
What kind of message is that sending to them?
'Do as I say, not as I do'
I think that's giving mixed messages to the kids
And that must have been confusing for them

I know that Rhodes Farm is still running
Maybe not quite in such a relaxed way as was shown in this documentary given the way that health and safety is these days but I hope still in the happy and homely atmosphere that Dee has created
It gave updates at the end and most seemed to be doing well
I would love to know how these kids are today
A lot of them would be my age now
Statistics show that 1/3 will have recovered
1/3 will continue to struggle, living somewhere in between their illness and recovery
1/3 will never recover
Shocking but true
I just hope and pray that I am one of the 1/3 that do recover

Friday, 19 April 2013


What is it about thin that has captured society's imagination?
Why is our culture so weight obsessed?
It wasn't always this way
Back at the turn of the 20th Century things were very different
Women who were considered to be beautiful were more likely to be curvy
We can see from the art of that time that women were voluptuous
And also at that time it was fashionable to be pale
If you had tanned skin then that meant you worked outside and hence you were a peasant
This trend continued through out the century
In the 1950's Marylin Monroe was considered to be one of the most attractive women in the world
She was a size 14-16
To this day her style is still copied and emulated

Twiggy was at her peak in the 1960's but her skinny frame was the exception rather than the norm

It wasn't until the 1990's that things changed
The arrival of the 'supermodel' and the 'heroin chic' trend turned fashion on it's head
Now Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangilista, Cyndi Crawford and Christy Turlington ruled the runway
And of course it was Kate Moss who uttered that overused phrase 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'

Gone were the soft curves of models
And in it's place were sharp edges and pointy bones
The androgynous look was in
Actresses took their cues from the models and became slimmer and slimmer
Society's interest in celebrities increased and gave birth to a plethora celebrity magazines
The diet industry exploded
Everyone and their mother was on some sort of diet
The Atkins Diet
The cabbage soup diet
The list is endless
Each promising that elusive dream, thin
Society became obsessed with thin
And the media took full advantage if this
The size 0 phenomenom  was the holy grail of skinny
The media fed us the idea the skinny equalled success
Become skinny and you will be popular
Become skinny and you will get the man of your dreams
Become skinny and you will get that dream job
And we as a society bought in to that
We believed every word

But of course this is mass manipulation on the media's behalf
They want us to believe in skinny so we will buy their product
Their clothes
Their make up
Their skin cream
Their diet supplement
Magazines name and shame 'fat' celebrities
We see extreme close ups of flab
Of celebrities eating cheese burgers
We disect their bodies limb by limb
We make up the perfect body in our minds
I'll have her boobs
Her legs
Her arms
Her ass
Plastic surgery has become the norm
I think one of the saddest cases of recent times is Heidi Montag from The Hills
When The Hills first aired we were introduced to Heidi
A fresh faced, blue eyed, blonde haired beauty
An all American girl
She was beautiful without a scrap of make up
But as the years went by Heidi morphed in to something bizzare
She had an awful lot of plastic surgery and now looks like a deformed barbie doll
This makes me sad more than anything
Sad that she couldn't recognise her own natural beauty
And sad that a plastic surgeon was willing to do that to her

Then there are the celebrities who have made a career out of their weight
Case in point: Kirstie Alley
Kirstie was the brunette bombshell from Cheers in the 80's
Over the last 10 years she has lost and gained the same 100 pounds over and over again
And the media were there to capture it all

Also Clare Richards from the 1990's group Steps
While in the band Clare was always very slim
But after the band broke up and she settle in to family life, her weight ballooned
She took part in various magazine spreads telling the story of her battle with food
She also made a 3 part documentary called Clare Richards, slave to food

Isn't it ironic that even though we have never been more obsessed with weight that we as a society have never been so fat
Obesity is now an epidemic
And the media are cashing in on it too
Just look at all the weight related tv shows
The Biggest Loser
Supersize V Superskinny
Downsize me
And they make for compulsive viewing
Yes, we are obsessed with weight
Myself included
For the first couple of years my ED had little to do with weight
I didn't weight myself and had no idea how much I weighed
It wasn't until doctors started weighing me that I took notice of the numbers
The number seemed to be important to them so they became important to me
I don't buy in to the idea that skinny equals success and happiness
I used to but not anymore
I have been every weight from 77lbs to 130 lbs and was equally miserable at all of them
I was probably happiest when I was somewhere in the middle
I don't think thin is necessarily attractive
I think confidence is attractive
Being comfortable in your own skin is attractive
Quirkiness is attractive
Thin just means that you take up less space
It couldn't possibly make up happy
And the pursuit of thin will more often than not make you miserable
The media's idea of thin is an illusion
It's a lie
A big fat lie