Tuesday, 5 March 2013

One foot in the grave

For the last year and a half Mary has weighed me once a week
But a few weeks ago she asked me if I would do it at home to get used to weighing myself
I wasn't too happy about it but I would try
The first time I weighed myself it took me days to muster up the courage to do it
Even thinking about weighing myself sends my heart aflutter
For a couple of weeks I managed to do it just once a week and left it at that
But in the last couple of weeks I've been weighing myself more and more and have lost 4 pounds in the process
4 pounds is not a huge loss but it's enough to give me a little buzz
A feeling of satisfaction
It's enough to make me want more
I find a loss a lot more triggering than a gain
A gain tends to send me towards food where as a loss tends to send me away from it
The high of losing is addictive
Like with drugs, you chase that high endlessly
But it's never enough
Another thing that may be contributing to my weight is the fact that I stopped taking the mirtazapine (anti depressant)
I was afraid it was making me gain weight so I haven't taken it for a few weeks
In reality though it wasn't
Seeing the numbers go down is both thrilling and terrifying
I know how this story ends
I've been there
Done that
Bought the extra small t-shirt
I know the misery that this life brings but part of me is willing to put up with it if it means I get to be the weight I want to be
It's so confusing to think that the one thing that makes me feel safe, is the one thing that's killing
It just goes to show the power of eating disorders
They groom us and lure us in with false promises of happiness
It's hard to resist the promise of being beautiful and loved
I should know better
I know that these promises are complete bullshit
I know that what anorexia brings is nothing but heartache and pain
For me and everyone around me

My doctor prescribed me laxatives and suppositories a few weeks ago due to severe constipation
He also gave me some home enemas
I had never used these before and was reluctant to but I was in desperate state a few weeks ago so I tried it
It worked like a dream
I felt completely empty
Can you see where this is going?
Yes, I've been using them far more than is safe
I'm starting to rely on them
I even found myself going to different chemists to stock up
I need to tell Mary
But I'm afraid
I saw her last week and she had a serious talk with me
She said if I don't get a handle on the purging that she won't be able to see me anymore
That she can't facilitate that behaviour
The thing about this service is that if you get too ill then they won't see you
For example if your BMI goes below 16 they won't see you
This doesn't make a lot of sense to me
It sounds like a contradiction
Surely someone needs more help if they are in that state
Mary said in order to progress I need to stop purging
She made the suggestion that if I made a contract with myself that maybe that would help
So we wrote out a contract of things I had to do
Here they are

- Eat regularly
- Don't purge
- Go to a meeting
- Weigh once a week on a Monday
- No binging
- No tv until after 5pm
- Keep food log
- Don't write the day off if I'm struggling
- Ring someone if struggling

I signed the contract making a commitment to stick to these tasks
But here I am a week later and I have yet to complete one of them
I'm seeing Mary later on and I am dreading it
I feel like cancelling
I feel like never going back
I feel like holding up my white flag and surrendering
I'm so tired
Tired of fighting
Tired of losing
Tired of the constant tug of war in my head
Tired of living this way
This year I will have clocked up 13 years in the midst of this illness
13 years
They should have been the best years of my life
I should have been enjoying my youth
Spending time with friends
Getting an education
Falling in love
Instead I have been living this half life
Stuck in this limbo
Somewhere between life and death
One foot in the grave
Every night I vow that tomorrow will be different
That I will make an effort
I promise myself that I won't waste another day to this illness
That I will do the opposite of what anorexia wants
But tomorrow never comes
I just don't know what to do anymore
I'm so confused
So lost
I don't know how to get back from this place
Do you?

Monday, 4 March 2013


Sunday is by far the worst day of the week for me
I've hated Sundays since I was a child
Back then it was the day before going back to school
And as I grew older it was the day before going back to work
In fact I think that Sundays are worse than Mondays in a lot of ways
For me now Sundays are usually dedicated solely to binging and purging
It's the only day that I am here at home alone
So I have free reign to self destruct to my hearts content

I walk my dogs in the morning
An extra long walk so they're nice and tired
Then I pile them in to my little car and we head for the shops
I usually have in mind exactly what I want to buy
But more often than not I'll just pick up whatever looks good
I'm trying very hard not to shop lift food anymore so I begrudgingly pay for my shopping
I say begrudgingly as I hate paying good money for food that won't go to good use
It's literally flushing money down the toilet
I had a surreal experience last week
I was in a supermarket with my Dad and I was paying for my goods at the counter
I had a few bags of crisps and I gave the check out lady one of them to scan and told her I had 5 in my bag
My Dad said to the woman jokingly 'Are you not going to check her bag? She could have any amount in there'
The woman laughed and said 'No, not at all, she has an innocent face'
I was dying inside because the truth was I had a lot more than 5 bags of crisps in my bag
How ironic......

I make sure not to forget to buy a big bottle of 7up free
All the better to purge with my dear
I head home
It's like being blinkered
I have one aim
To get home and wreak havoc
To get the buzz of eating forbidden food
And then the high of having it leave your stomach
All the while safe in the knowledge that I won't gain weight

I arrive home
I put all the food away
Mentally working out the order in which I'm going to eat it
I make a cup of tea
Drink it with a cigarette
And wait
Wait for my mother to leave
She usually goes out between 1pm and 2pm
I clock watch as she gets ready
Counting down the minutes
She comes in to say good bye
'Light a fire if you get cold' she says
She always worries that I'm cold
I wait until I see her car leave the drive
And then?
Let the binge begin........

I choose food that takes a short time to prepare but a long time to eat
First up is usually chicken curry with jasmin rice
All washed down with plenty of 7up free
I don't eat at the table
I eat cross legged on the living room floor
I eat in a certain way
Each mouthful is carefully selected for maximum enjoyment
I keep the salt beside me at all times as I'm a salt junkie
I'm already heading to the bathroom as I'm chewing the last mouthful
In that moment nothing could stop me from getting to that bathroom
The house could be burning down around me and I'd still make sure I got there
What happens next is not pretty
It's not glamorous
It's not romantic
It's messy
It's disgusting
There's a reason it only happens behind locked doors
The vomit comes up quickly
It's food covered in foamy 7up
Over the years I've learned to be quick and quiet
You never know when you're going to be interrupted
I've always thought that purging is such a violent act
It's self harm in such a graphic way
I can only imagine what damage I am doing internally, forcing food from my stomach
As I'm cleaning up I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror
I look like a crazed maniac
Blood shot eyes
Water streaming from them
Vomit on my cheek
My hair stuck to it
I quickly look away
As if doing so made it all disappear
I tidy myself as best I can
And head to the kitchen for round 2

When I'm binging and purging I don't have one big binge
It's more like lots of little binges
I guess technically they're not binges at all as they're normal amounts of food
But to me it's a binge
I don't know why but the food never tastes as good as I think it will
I eat slowly and carefully
And back to the bathroom
The day follows this pattern
Binge, purge, binge, purge..........
Kitchen, bathroom, kitchen, bathroom.............
I start to wrap things up at about 5pm as I know my mother will be home soon
I get rid of any evidence of the day
I burn food wrappers in the fire place
Make sure all the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher
When my mother arrives home I am sitting in the living room as if it never happened
I am the picture of innocence
After the days events I am drained
All I can do is lie lifeless on the couch
Only moving to have a cigarette
I feel nothing
No emotion
Just empty
Dead inside
I vow never to do this again
I promise myself that I won't waste another minute to this cruel illness
But then I say that every Sunday

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Love from......

I came across this lovely little idea last week
The idea is that you write an anonymous letter, card or note to a person and leave it in a public place for someone to find
The letter can be about anything
It could be a love letter telling the person how great they are
It could be inspirational
It could be encouraging
It could be a post it left on a mirror in a public bathroom simply saying 'You are beautiful'
Most of all it should be positive and life affirming
I wrote one last weekend and left it in a car park ticket machine
I checked it a couple of hours later and it was gone so I hope someone found it
This weekend I wrote another one
I think I'll leave it in a cafe
I think it's such a simple but brilliant idea
Imagine finding one of these letters
I know if it was me it would make my day

Friday, 1 March 2013

Blake and Amy

I don't usually watch The Jeremy Kyle show but I watched it yesterday morning when I saw that he was interviewing Blake Civil Fielder
For those of you who haven't heard of him he was married to Amy Winehouse
A lot of people blamed him  for Amy's drug addiction and some went so far as to blame him for her untimely death
I didn't know much about Blake before I saw this interview
I only knew what I had read in the paper and they had portrayed him as nothing short of a monster
His mother Georgette had been interviewed on the show previously and she had encouraged him to speak out and tell his side of the story

He described how he has first met Amy in a bar in Camden called 'The Good Mixer'
He was 21 and she was 20
He said that she looked and sounded different to other girls
That is was love at first sight
At this point he was using cocaine recreationally
He admitted to offering it to Amy but she refused
At that time she abhorred Class A drugs but she did smoke weed
Over time they both moved on to harder drugs
Blake confessed that he was the first person to introduce Amy to heroin
Gradually they used it more and more until they were both addicted
It was around the time that 'Back to black' came  out and Amy was becoming extremely famous
Blake was in and out of prison and Amy continued in a downward spiral
I remember photos from that time
Images of Amy looking so thin and dishevelled
They were a modern day tragic couple
Her the small girl with the big voice
Him the classic bad boy
They couldn't live with each other but they also couldn't live without each other

Blake was in prison when he heard that Amy was dead
She died 23rd July 2011
She was just 27 years old
She is now part of an infamous group of musicians called 'The 27club'
Along with Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and many others
They all died when they were 27 in tragic circumstances
Blake overdosed accidentally after her death
He was in a coma for 21 days and was not expected to live
By this stage he had a new girlfriend and a new baby son, Jack
He has been clean ever since his overdose

The media have really given Blake a hard time and you would be forgiven for getting the impression that he was a nasty piece of work
But I thought he came across very well
He was softly spoken, articulate and incredibly honest
I thought he was a very likeable guy
It was clear that he truly loved Amy
Jeremy Kyle asked him if he really loved Amy, why did he give her drugs
He said that he never thought it would so that far
I can relate to Blake and Amy's story
It was my boyfriend at the time who first introduced me to heroin
And like Amy's family, mine blamed my boyfriend for my addiction
Of course they want someone to blame and it's easy to blame it on the other person
But I don't think it was my boyfriends fault that I got addicted
Yes he was the one I first took it with but I have no doubt that if it wasn't him, it would have been someone else
I can't blame him for my actions
I took the drugs
He's not responsible for that
I have my own mind and I made the conscious decision to take the drugs
When you're young like that it's very easy to make a mistake
Of course I knew the danger of drugs
But in my limited experience I had never had a negative experience with drugs
I had never seen anyone strung out on heroin
And I just didn't think getting addicted would happen to me

Blake is clean now
He came off methadone about a year ago
His girlfriend Sarah was with him
She seems to have been instrumental in him getting his life back together
I hope he manages to stay on the straight and narrow
It will be especially hard for him though
Trying to get work will be difficult as people will have made judgements based on what they read in the papers

I have to admit I find it incredibly difficult to watch any footage of Amy, if her video comes on I change the channel
I don't like to look at images of her
I can just about listen to her songs
I find it so desperately sad to have witnessed her decline
My favourite song is 'Tears dry on their own' but I haven't watched the video in years
Most people probably don't notice how pinned her eyes are from heroin use
The last few years of her life, in every video, every photo her eyes are pinned and glazed
Being a recovering heroin addict I find it so very hard to look at
Eating disorder wise, it is the equivalent of looking at a very sick and underweight person
I have read Amy also developed an eating disorder and her ever shrinking body would back that up
It's not that I find it triggering, I suppose it's like looking in a mirror
The haunted eyes and frail body are exactly the way I used to look
I followed her career from start and in the early years she was so different
Curvy, fresh faced and so very talented
Having watched and read interviews with her, she seemed to have very little self esteem
I remember her saying that the lower her self esteem was, the higher she made her signature beehive
It's heartbreaking how someone with such a precious gift to really touch people could have so little belief in themselves
But isn't that always the way
I was shocked when I heard she had died but I wasn't surprised
It was inevitable really
Apparently she had managed to get clean before she died but was still drinking and had a massive amount of alcohol in her system the night she died
The only comfort I take is that she is at peace now
Safe from the demons that haunted her
Sleep well Amy

Are you an Amy Winehouse fan?
What do you think of Blake Civil Fielder?
Do you think he played a part in her demise?

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?