Monday, 2 September 2013


I saw my doctor first thing this morning
He asks me what I'm up to today
I say that I'm going home to watch Seamus Heaney's funeral on tv
Seamus Heaney was Ireland's and possibly the worlds best known Irish poet
He died last week
The minute I mention the poets name my doctor pushes back his chair from his desk and tells me some of his own 'Seamus stories'
Someone said last week that everyone has a Seamus story'
I think this must be true because even I have one
Last year he was coming to my town to give a reading
My mother bought the tickets 6 months in advance
I have to admit at the time I was in quite a bad place and did not realise the significance of seeing Seamus Heaney read his own work
I studied his poems at school but did not really appreciate them at the time
My brother, his girlfriend, my mother and I all went to the reading
I was abusing my meds at this time and at some point in the evening I fell asleep in the theatre and missed most of the reading
I must be the only person ever who has fallen asleep at a Seamus Heaney reading
My brother must have been disgusted as he is also a writer
But I had enough medication in me to tranquillize a horse
I'm sure Seamus would have understood
Anyway it was my loss

After we swapped Seamus stories my doctor my doctor raised the subject of reducing my methadone
Darn it!
I thought he might have forgotten
I say that I don't feel ready but I guess if I waited until I was ready I would probably never do it
I ask how much he wants to reduce it and suggest 1ml
3mls he says
2mls I say
Ok that's a compromise
He says that measuring  out 28mls may be tricky so he gives a syringe so I can be as accurate as I can
So I guess all I can do is just see how I get on
I don't anticipate any major symptoms of dropping 2mls but it's more a psychological thing
Just knowing that I am taking less makes me feel different
But to look at the positives it is a step forward
A step towards becoming completely clean
That has to be a good thing

My mother received a phone call this morning from a work colleague
My mother works in adult education and a student had approached this colleague about her son
He is 20 and has anorexia she is very worried about him
Knowing that I have an ED this colleague contacted my mother to ask for some advice so she came to me to ask what I thought
I don't know very much about the young man
But apparently his mother is thinking of having him sectioned
I don't think that's a good idea at all
If he is sectioned he will be put in to a public psychiatric hospital and won't get any specialized help there
And if he has a bad experience there (which is a distinct possibility) it may put him off seeking help in the future
Beyond that I am really not sure what to tell this woman
I suggest that mother give this lady the number of the hospital I was treated in which she does
I considered maybe giving this guy my number so he could contact me if he wished but having thought about it I don't know if that's a good idea
I am not in a place where I am qualified to be giving out advice and I would feel like a hypocrite telling someone what the should be doing when I'm not taking my own advice
Also I would worry about being triggered by this person
In NA they drum home the message that when you are getting clean off drugs, you have to help yourself before you help anyone else
Helping newly clean addicts is left to those who have a significant amount of time and experience being clean
It can be massively triggering being around someone who is just in the door just as can be triggering to be around someone who is still in the throes of their ED

Then there is the question of whether this guy wants to get well
He is 20  and I got the impression that he wasn't suffering too long
Maybe a couple of years
I do believe that unless the person wants to get well, then all the therapy, counselling, treatment, love and support doesn't mean a damn unless the person themselves wants to get well
They say that the earlier the illness is caught, the more chance the sufferer has of getting well
I don't think that is always the case though
I think that if a person has had the illness for a short period of time, then they could still be in the 'Honeymoon stage' where they are only experiencing those initial highs of losing weight and feeling great
Because they are only experiencing the highs and not too many of the lows yet, they may be reluctant to give up their ED
It's only months or even years down the road that the negative impact may become apparent
So it's hard to know what to say to this guy
He may be just as the beginning of his 'ED career' and anything I say may go in one ear and out the other
But it's worth a try  I guess

I think back to the early days of my ED
I was just a year younger than this guy when I first developed anorexia although it wasn't until I was about 23 that I acknowledged it
Over the years a lot of people including family, friends and professionals tried to talk sense in to me
But it is no use trying to use rational and common sense to try and conquer something that makes utterly no sense
Something as complex and paradoxical as as ED needs a different approach
You can tell an ED sufferer they are not fat all day long and they will never believe you
They need hard evidence and fact that this is the case
We need hard proof
Not some family members opinion and anyway we will often not believe our own families because we think they are only saying that because they are family
Then there is the common belief among sufferers that they are not sick or not sick enough
We don't believe that we are underweight so therefore there is no problem
And even when we do acknowledge that there is a problem, it's very difficult to put up your hand and say 'I'm struggling here and I need help'
And especially with mental health given the stigma that is still attached to it

I remember when I attended the ED conference in my town back in February
A GP asked what she could do to help ED sufferers who came to her for help
I thought this was a really good question as GPs are often the first port of call for someone who is seeking help for an ED
I've thought a lot about this question since and I think there are a few things that they can do to help
It's so important for the sufferer to feel that they are being heard
Try and make the sufferer feel at ease so they feel comfortable enough to be honest
Be patient
The sufferer will probably not tell you the full story in the first appointment so definitely make a follow up appointment
Make sure that the sufferer knows that you are taking their case seriously
I think not making a big deal about weight is important
For the first few years of my illness I never weighed myself and was not aware of what I weighed
But then doctors started weighing me and the numbers seemed important to them so they became important to me
Also I think GPs should be aware that whatever a sufferer is telling them is probably only part of the story as it's difficult to be completely honest about our EDs especially in the first meeting

My heart goes out to this guy, it really does
I hope and pray that he can overcome this cruel illness
But in reality I think all I can do is point him in the direction of people who can help him much more than me
That's all I can do
It's really down to him and how much he wants to get well

I was wondering about you
What advice would you give this guy?
Do you think there is anything anyone can say to him that will make a difference?


  1. I think there is a definite mental opposite when you're better and when you're at your worst. I've noticed there's a need to pawn off things on other people when it's more ED centered. Like even you said someone else could help. I mean that it's like you don't have power as a person when you're in the throes of your ED but the crazy thing is, you're the one with all of it. There's constant self-hate and self-doubt. I definitely understand the point of view that you couldn't help someone when you're struggling with yours. I couldn't in an unbiased way. It would actually be more like empathizing in an unhealthy way. In fact, if people got well I almost didn't care fully or in some cases selfishly didn't want them to because then we couldn't relate together anymore. Misery loves company. You could, in fact, quit methadone, give this guy some advice, do Zumba like you've been talking about, anything really! YOU are in CONTROL. My ED started when I was 14 and I will be 23 in December so granted, it's been a good 8 years that I've been a yo yo of mental health.

    What would I say to this guys and does anything make a difference? Well, I would tell him my story and that things do make a difference, but it's not always right in the moment. Sometimes it's those time bomb comments someone says long after the world goes to bed and you're laying there depressed as ever. I once told a friend when she sincerely asked me about my first go around with anorexia that you have to have a lot of problems to do it well. We both laughed but it was just so true and no one she had knew had ever said it outright like that but I completely meant it. You might just have the run of the mill luck or you might have a history of abuse like I did. Whatever the case, you can either grow from it or run from it. My choice is always avoidance, which I'm working on. Eating disorders are perfect ways to run and hide. When things start looking up, you realize you don't need it anymore to carry you through and that's terrifying as well. Being HAPPY is terrifying. It keeps you from trying things and it almost causes you to look for things that are wrong so that you can justify having one or justify why you can't move forward in your life. It's addictive to be thin because it's so praised and at the same time, you're interesting. When people find out, it's harrowing and the attention is on you, but it's not actually a good thing. I guess I see that more and more. The fact that I was looked at or talked about was not because I was fantastic. It was because I looked horrible. Guys didn't look because I was pretty. Everyone looked because my legs were long pencils, my face was all hollow and angular, and my skin and eyes looked dead.

    Sorry this is a long explanation. :) Whether we believe it or not, we often times want to be babied with our EDs. We believe the world is harsh or maybe we don't but no matter what, we all make excuses for ourselves. After a while, people get tired of caring and trying to help someone that won't help themselves. I think it's that realization that got me. It was that the world moves on regardless of you and you can either sit there and refuse to move or you can get up and work on it and at least try to make the most of it. Eventually you really are alone because you refuse to live, and that scared me too. So, that's the story I would give. :D

    PS, congrats on lowering your methadone! stay strong girl!

  2. I don't know what advice I would give him. You've basically covered everything I can think of.
    I'm not sure how I feel about the idea that you can't really get help early unless you really want it. On the one hand, I agree with it, because if you don't want help there's nothing anyone can do for you except force you to eat. On the other hand, if people force you to eat and force you through therapy, maybe it will sink in.

  3. I don't think there is anything that anyone can say to another person, it all comes from within... I think leaving it to the professionals is the best thing Ruby.

    I know that I was out of control with the weight gain I had... I had to start taking care of myself and no one could make me do it, I had to start and I had to believe in myself. Many people tried to tell me and help me see but no one could help me until I could see it and wanted help...

  4. I don't know if there's anything anyone can say that'd make a difference. You're probably right in giving him advice on who could help, whether or not he chooses to accept it. As you said, it really comes down to him and how much he wants to get well. No amount of support, patience or force will make someone recover unless they truly want it.

    And well done on reducing your methadone! It's definitely a good thing to be one step closer to being clean. I know it won't be easy, but I have faith in you, and your doctor sounds like he's being wonderful with taking things slowly.

    Take care dear Ruby. Much love <3 xx

  5. Oh man, you're the total opposite of me. My class went to this boring-as-all-fuck play about a Shogi-Tensai that I couldn't understand a WORD of and I was the only person who didn't fall asleep. Bloody hell -.-

    That is so true, if you're putting someone else's recovery ahead of yours at a delicate stage then you're shooting yourself in the foot and won't be able to help anyone. Z had to take a 6-month long break from the messageboard at BDF to make sure she recovered properly. Point this out to them if you haven't already, ok?

    I have no idea what I would say. I guess I'd point him to J.D.Eberhardt's speech on mental illness and why people should give a damn (He's a recovered/recovering male anorexic) and say "Watch This"

    Love you Ruby. Look after yourself, ok? I wanna go horse riding with you next year! :D ERMAGHERD EERLRND!!


Thank you for leaving some love x