Friday, 5 July 2013

Meal by meal

I saw Mary this morning
She asks how I am
I tell her how tired I am all the time
That I can't get through the day without a couple of naps
How I feel my motivation is in the toilet, literally
That I have no fight left in me
'You know why that is' she says
I do
I do know
I seem to be in denial though
She asks to see my food monitoring records
I reluctantly show them to her
There's nothing of any substance and if there is it is purged
And to be honest my records are not entirely honest
I add in food here and lie about purging there
But even with my censoring, she still thinks it is a huge problem
She brings up inpatient again
She says that if this is not working then we have to try something else
She can't continue to enable me and she feels that is what she would be doing
I tell her that I don't want to go in to treatment
'What are you willing to do to not have to go then?'

I explain how my thinking is skewed
That the sick part of me wants to feel bad and doesn't want to feel good
Feeling good is so alien to me that I don't know how to handle it when I do feel good
Although these days I rarely feel good
Feeling weak and tired is not particularly nice but it is familiar
It's safe
Feeling good or happy is uncharted territory for me
Part of me feels that I don't deserve to be happy
That I should suffer
I'm not entirely sure
I'm reading a book called The Anorexic Experience
It talks about how people with anorexia often deny themselves what they need
Not just food but other things like taking care of yourself or heat or fun
At first I couldn't relate to this at all but then I got thinking
I often deliberately keep myself cold
Like if I am the only person in the house, I won't turn on the heat because it's only me and I don't deserve to be warm
Can any of you relate to that?
I don't do nice things for myself for the same reason
It's as if I am not good enough for these basic human rights

I have another appointment with Mary next Tuesday and she said that if things haven't started to move in the right direction she will have to consider other options
So she asked me to make 3 goals that are manageable by Tuesday
So my goals are -

1. - Not to purge
2. - Eat 3 small meals everyday
3. - Keep proper monitoring records

Sounds simple enough doesn't it?
But I would rather climb Mount Everest in a bikini and I would probably have more success
I really don't want to have to go to treatment though and that is motivation to at least try

I explain to Mary how I think that I'm not that bad
That I've been in worse states than this before
However I also thought this when I was addicted to heroin
I thought there were people in worse positions than mine
But I guess it's all relative
Yes, I am not at my lowest ever weight but as I truly believe that weight is not an indicator of how sick we are
It's hard though not to slip in to the way of thinking that it is
And I have to remember that this is not my first rodeo
This has been going on for well over a decade
I am a few years older than a lot of you and I have to remember that
I don't have the luxury of time
I remember my birthday last year
 Suddenly I panicked at the thought of losing another 10 years to this illness
I rang a treatment centre and was motivated to change
I don't quite know what happened but I fell in to a rut and am still there
Years of abusing myself is starting to catch up on me
My body is hurting
It's tired and drained and cold and frail
When I came out of the session I poke to my mother
I said to her what I said to Mary, that I'm not that bad
'Ruby you are '  she said 'You look sick'
She said that yes, I have been a lower weight but now I am so entrenched in these behaviours that it seems I am getting worse
I'm not getting any better that's for sure

Yesterday my mother and I went to visit my neighbour in hospital
She is in her sixties and up until very recently was in good health
But she has gone down hill rapidly and having avoided going to the doctor for a long time, she is now in a bad way in hospital
I panicked a little bit when I realised that she was in the same ward  that I was in back in March
When I saw her I got such a shock
She was lying in bed and she looked like she had aged 10 years
This was a woman who was full of life
A true Dub (person from Dublin) with a great sense of humour
She always said exactly what she thought and I guess you would consider her a bit fiery
Fiercely independent
But I loved that about her
She seemed to recognize us but she was making very little sense
As we held her hands she she started to cry
It was heart breaking
I came out of there feeling quite upset
It suddenly hit me that that will be all of us someday
We're all going to get old and die and it will come sooner than we think
It made me think about how life is not a dress rehearsal
We don't get a second chance to do things properly
It made me think how much I am missing while in this state
I've already lost so much
My independence
My friends
Peace of mind
Do I really want to lose any more?
Possibly my life?

A good friend once said to me that it's not a choice between recovery and my ED, it's a choice between life and death
I think this is so true
Living with an ED is choosing death
It's choosing not to live
For me it is anyway
My mother asked me today was I afraid when I was admitted to hospital in March with pancreatitis
The  truth is I wasn't
I wasn't afraid of death
I was more afraid of life
I'm 'living' in a bubble at the moment
Nothing comes in and nothing goes out
Everyday is the same
I get through the day only to start again the next day
I get through the week only to start a new one
Nothing happens
Nothing changes
It's like ground hog day
The same day over and over again
I'm so very tired of it
So bored of it
My ED  has become monotonous and boring
I'm over it

I remember when I gave up drugs I was motivated
I had sunk so low that I couldn't go any lower
I had a fire inside me that motivated me
And when I'm determined to do something there is no stopping me
Drugs are similar to EDs but the do differ a bit
With drugs I could walk away from my old life
From old friends
From my town
From the drugs
I moved across the country and started over
With an  ED it's not that simple
I can't cut food out of my life
Well I could but that would defeat the purpose
I have to learn to deal with food and that is the hard part

I know that if I put in half the energy in to recovery that I do in to my ED, then I would be well on my way
I guess it boils down to how much do I want this
I am in two minds and I can't seem to make a decision and stick to eat
I want to want to get well if that makes sense

So I'm going to try
I'm going to fight
Even if my only motivation is to stay out out of hospital
That's ok
Whatever helps
I'll have to take it day by day
Meal by meal
This shit has to stop
And it stops today

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Don't call me crazy: Part 2

The second part of 'Don't call me crazy' was on last night
It follows a year in the life of adolescents in the McGuinness unit in Manchester which is an inpatient unit for teenagers with mental health issues
This week the documentary focused on 3 stories
Beth 17, who we were introduced to last week
She suffers with anorexia and depression
Crystal 14, who sees people and animals who aren't actually there
And Gillian 17, who we also met last week
She suffers drastic mood changes and was considered a danger to herself


Last week we saw Beth really struggling
As I said in the last post, as first I thought that Beth was not that bad and some comments that you left said the same thing
A couple of days later a friend of Beth's left a comment on my blog saying that Beth in fact had been on a medical ward before she was admitted to the unit to stabilise her weight
Refusing to eat or to be weighed, Beth was threatened with being sectioned
Beth thought that they were only trying to scare her
But they did in fact section her
This now meant that they could force her to eat
Beth started to make slow progress
She started going in to the dining room and eating with others
She made an appeal to get her section overturned
Unfortunately it was turned down and she was deemed too sick
I don't know if Beth self harmed before she came to the unit but she started to
In fact it seemed that all the girls there did
Beth described how all the bad feelings and thoughts went away as the blood trickled out
Even though Beth was in the grip of this illness, her personality still shone through
She was bright and bubbly and so pretty
Her friend that commented on the last post said that Beth is now home and doing well
She has returned to her beloved dancing and is going on holiday soon
I hope and pray that she can over come this although I know chances of relapse are high
Maybe the fact that there was an early intervention will stand to her
I hope so

Then we were introduced to Crystal
At 14 Crystal was the youngest on the unit
She spoke frankly about how she could see people and animals
We saw pictures she had drawn of them
They included a little girl and also rats
She gave them names like 7 and 24
So called because they were there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
She said the voices told her to do things
That she was afraid of some of them
Crystal was adopted when she was 4 having been abused at home
It was at this age that she first began to see and hear things
She settled in to her new home but the characters didn't go away
She described how the voices told her to kill her adopted father
Tests were done and Crystal was deemed not to be psychotic and not a danger to herself or others
Her doctor explained that at the age of 4 she had invented a fantasy world to help her cope
She imagined this world so she could also choose to not see them
Crystal was discharged
She is now back at school and doing well

We first met Gillian last week when she escaped the unit and took an overdose
She suffers with drastic mood swings and struggled to control her anger
For a lot of her stay she was being held in the acute part of the unit
It was distressing to see her being restrained and it happened quite often
Gillian had not spoken to her mother in 6 months and this was causing her a lot of distress
Eventually though they did make contact and her mother started to come and visit her
This seemed to be a turning point for her and she began to make progress

I thought that the documentary was good
It gave a good insight in to different mental health issues
However I would have liked to have learned more about their back stories
Especially Beth
She seemed to have everything going for her
She was pretty, outgoing and smart
How did she fall prey to this cruel illness?
And I firmly believe that for everything we do, there is a reason
We don't starve ourselves for no reason
There's always an explanation
We also don't starve ourselves because we are vain and want to be thin
It's not that simple
It runs much deeper than that
Restricting and the pursuit of thinness masks a whole host of issues beneath the surface
I wonder what happened to Beth that compelled her not to eat?
And it doesn't have to be this big traumatic event that triggers an eating disorder
More often than not it is a series of little events or triggers
For me it was a combination of things
I was unhappy at home
I was a dancer and swimmer so my body was exposed a lot
I remember every comment anyone ever made about my weight or shape
They are all filed away at the back of my head under the heading 'Reasons to hate myself'
The seeds of my eating disorder were sewn long before I stopped eating
Our experiences, especially as children, mould us in to the person we are today
We look for ways to cope and unfortunately sometimes these methods are unhealthy

Also it was a bit unsettling watching kids who were at their most vulnerable
Yes, it's important to raise these issues and get people talking
Mental health is still something that is whispered rather than spoken about openly
We like to pretend that it's not there
But the reality is that one on four of us suffer from some form of mental health
We don't feel uncomfortable talking about diabetes or a broken arm
So why do we have such an issue about talking about our mental health?
So any of us are suffering in silence
Too afraid to open our mouths
Too worried about what others will think of us
Anxious that people won't understand and think that we are crazy
Talking about it is so important
It's vital
Keeping it all in is exhausting and draining
And it does leak out in other ways

I thought that some of the footage was unnecessary
It showed graphic images of the results of self harm and I'm sure that triggered some people massively
Also showing young people being restrained was uncomfortable to watch
The documentary focused on all the dramatic incidents and failed to show that most of the time nothing happens and people are generally very bored
It did show some of the girls having  fun but I don't think it accurately described the strength of the bond you form with other patients

I have huge admiration for the young people that were in this documentary
They showed huge courage for speaking out
They also gave these conditions a face and I think that's so important

Did you watch this documentary?
What did you think of it?

Monday, 1 July 2013

The doctor dilemma

As you know Monday is doctor day for me
My morning did not start well as before I had even left the house I managed to break a plant pot and fall down a set steps
But that's Mondays for you
My own doctor has been out sick for the last month and I was hoping he was still off
Partly because the last time he saw me he said that the next time he sees me he's going to reduce my methadone but mostly because I wanted to see the nice woman doctor that's filling in for him
Just as I sit down in the waiting room and look for something to read I hear my name called
I follow the nice woman doctor in to her office and apologise for being late
I notice she has my prescriptions in front of her already filled
Very efficient
I always make my appointment first thing in the morning so I avoid having to wait and usually my own doctor spends the first 5 minutes turning his computer on
She first asks me how the dizziness is
I am honest and tell her that it has improved
However I leave out the fact that I haven't taken the blood pressure meds she prescribed last week
Bad Ruby
She tells me that my blood tests came back normal
If I were a sane and rational person (and I'm not) I would be happy about this
But part of me finds it disappointing when nothing wrong is found
I guess a part of me wants something to blame this on
And not always believing that I have an eating disorder, I look for other signs for proof
Does that make sense?

Then she asks how my mood is
I tell her that I can't really tell but I don't think it's great
I explain how I have pulled away from my friends and am becoming increasingly isolated, not leaving the house very much
'What do you like to do' she asks
I tell her that I used to dance but haven't done in over a year
I mention that I walk my dogs and I write a little bit
She picked up on the writing straight away and asks me if I have heard of 'The Artists Way'
I have
It's a book written by Julia Cameron
It's a kind of self help book to help you tap in to your creativity
The book was written to help people with creative artistic recovery
It teaches techniques to assist people in gaining in self confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills
I first heard about the book when I was in hospital the first time
A girl there recommended the book to me but I never followed it up
It's actually the second time in the last couple of days that this book popped up in my life and being a girl that likes to think that the universe sends me signs, I'm thinking of getting it
Nice woman doctor explained one of the exercises called Morning Pages
This involves waking up in the morning and before you do anything else, you take out 3 pages and just write
It can be anything
A stream of consciousness
Nice woman doctor said 'Even if all you write is fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck'
It's not what you write
It's to get all the negative thoughts building up in your head out of your head and on to paper
You don't read it back
You rip it up and throw it away
I really like this idea so I'm going to give it a go
She also told me about a workshop on The Artists Way that's on in my area next month
Another sign?
I like to think so

Nice woman doctor is a breath of fresh air
Usually when I mention low mood, meds are promptly changed and dosages increased
She said that meds do have their place but it's important to address behaviour too
How refreshing
I really like her and her approach
I think with my own doctor I've gotten in to a bit of a rut
As I've said before, we rarely talk about medical issues and often end up talking about random things
I've seen him every week for the last 8 years and the more I get to know him, the harder I find it to talk to him
I mentioned this to my father during the week and he said that my doctor is so used to me and the way that I am, that my behaviour has become 'normal'
That's very possible
I remember at the eating disorder conference my mother spoke about how my disordered behaviour has become normal
And it has
People around me are so used to me being this way, that it's not seen as different or abnormal
So maybe it's the same with my doctor
Maybe he is so used to me being this way that he doesn't question it anymore
Maybe having a fresh pair of eyes on the subject has been helpful

The thought occurred to me that maybe I should change from my usual doctor to nice woman doctor
My doctor is a lovely man and I know that he means well but I feel that me may becoming complacent
I don't know if it makes a difference that this other doctor is a woman and may be more tuned in to the emotional side of things
I guess it was just little things
Like when I was speaking about my mood, she faced me and looked me in the eye and really listenen
My own doctor barely looks up from his computer
I am reluctant to change because he has been very good to me
But is that a good enough reason to stay?
Out of loyalty?
Anyway it's something to think about

What do you think?
If you were me would you change?

Friday, 28 June 2013

And then she disappeared

I often read someone's blog and wonder where they got their title from
Obviously it means something very personal to that person and I'm intrigued to know the story behind it
When I was choosing my own title, I had a few in the running
Beauty from pain
Wearing thin
Or simply anorexia and me
Anyone of those would've been fine but I kept coming back to And then she disappeared
I was planning to disappear
Simple as that

I started writing this blog about a year ago having been reading blogs for quite a while
I was adamant that it was not going to turn in to a pro ana blog but reading back on my first couple of months of posts, I can see that I was coming very close
I guess a saw a community of people and wanted to fit in so I wrote about fasting and wanting to be skinny
But over time this blog turned in to something different
I'm extremely uncomfortable with the idea of girls egging each other on to lose weight
It makes me feel slightly sick
We would never encourage someone to pick up a drug (well most of us wouldn't) or to get depression
or any other mental illness
So why is it ok to encourage weight loss?
I think that most people who are 'pro ana' don't necessarily have an eating disorder because of they did they would never wish it on any one else
I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy never mind someone who I care about

I admit that I am not in recovery
Or if I am I am failing miserably
I suppose some would say that makes me pro ana by definition
But I am not or never will be pro ana
Then I might as well be pro heroin addiction or pro obesity

I admit that I am struggling
That I am no poster girl for recovery
I feel caught in between my illness and recovery
In limbo
A wish washy, no man's land
Neither here nor there
Stuck in anorexia's waiting room
And I am not an in between kind of person
I'm quite black or white
All of nothing
So being in this place is infuriating
I hate it

Anyway I'm going off the point here
I choose the title of my blog because I was planning to disappear
I had no desire to go on
I just wanted to slip away quietly
But that has changed too
For the longest time I couldn't find one reason to stay here
I felt like a burden to my family
I genuinely thought that they would be better off without me
Now I'm not so sure
Now I have 2 things that keep me going
My dogs
And the thought that maybe I could help others in my position
The only problem with that is that I have to help myself first in order to help anyone else
Easier said than done
I can think of a million reasons for you to recover but when it comes to myself I struggle to find any

I started writing mainly because I was lonely
I had pushed most of my friends away and I was very much alone
I was struggling to keep it together and I needed someone to talk to
For some reason I find it much easier to tell the internet all my problems than talk to someone face to face
But I have to say that this blog is no substitute for human contact
It's great to have this outlet but I think that we need actual human contact
A hug
A shoulder to cry own
That feeling of connection
I have met some amazing people through this blog and for that I am grateful
People that have given me the courage to break the silence of my own struggles without fear of judgement
Mary wonders if this blog is not unhealthy
And there was a time when I thought it was too
I've had to be strict with myself and avoid blogs that I find triggering
Although I'm sure mine can be triggering too

With all that said I was wondering about you
How did you come up with the title of your blog?
And why did you start your blog?
Has it been a positive or negative in your life?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Don't call me crazy

As you probably know I love a good documentary
Especially ones about eating disorders and mental health
Last night there was one called 'Don't call me crazy' shown on BBC3
It followed a year in the life of patients in the McGuinness unit in Manchester, which is a unit for young people with mental illness
In this first episode we were shown the girls unit
I think the next episode next week is about the boys

We were introduced to a few of the patients but the documentary mostly concentrated on Beth's story

Beth was 17 years old and suffered from anorexia and depression
She had been in the unit for 2 months when they took up her story
She stayed for 6 months and was discharged in April of this year
Beth was a pretty blonde with big brown eyes
She came across bubbly and out going
She described the voice in her head
It told her she was fat and useless
She was refusing food and wouldn't even go in to the dining room
As you can imagine there was constant tug-of-war between her and the staff
She also refused to give blood tests and wouldn't allow staff to weigh her
After being given chances to make changes herself, her team decided that she needed to be sectioned
That meant that she was no longer a voluntary patient and the staff could force her to eat
We saw her sitting at the table one day
The staff member with her could only persuade her to eat 2 piece of carrot
If Beth didn't eat then she was expected to drink the same amount of calories in a supplement drink
She fought them all the way
She must have started make progress though as I know she was discharged in April and is doing quite well
She has returned to her beloved dancing also

I have to admit that when I first saw Beth, I thought to myself 'She's not that bad'
Partly because she didn't look emaciated and appeared to be relatively healthy
But I know that this is no way to measure how sick someone is
Looks can deceiving
Beth was obviously struggling
Her bubbly personality was obviously hiding a lot of pain
People do not stop eating for no reason
And it is a huge myth that you have to be extremely thin to have an ED
I know for myself that I was just as sick at my highest weight as I was at my lowest weight
But doctors only really grew concerned about me when my  weight plummeted
It's so sad that we never feel that we are 'sick enough'
That we don't deserve the title of anorexia

Another girl was in for OCD
She described how she had to do things a certain number of times and it was ruling her life
She made good progress and was discharged

The unit was a tightly run ship
Doors were kept locked
The patients weren't allowed outside on their own
Their rooms were searched regularly
Patients frequently tried to harm themselves
They used anything they could get their hands on
At one point 2 girls escaped the unit
One was found quickly but a girl called Gillian managed to give staff the slip
8 hours went by and she still could not be found
Staff were very concerned as this girl had taken an overdose recently and they feared she would try again
Their fears were realised when they got a phonecall that Gillian was in the local hospital after taking another overdose

What was nice about the documentary was the bond that the girls had together
They supported each other and took care of each other
I can remember that feeling from when I was in hospital
It was so refreshing to be in a place where people were just themselves
We were all in the same boat so there was no point in trying to hide our conditions
People spoke freely without fear of being judged or ridiculed
I have actually never felt as comfortable in my own skin as I did when I was in hospital
I could just be me
I could talk about my illness if I wanted to and people understood
In the real world it's very different
People don't talk about mental illness even though 1 in 4 of us are suffering
We have no trouble taking about physical health
So why not mental health?
And there is still a stigma attached to it
People are ashamed of their condition
I am quite open about my own struggles
I have no problem talking about them if I am asked
But people rarely ask
They think it's impolite or taboo to ask
But I would rather people asked than stay silent
I'm more than happy to answer questions

I remember when I was a child these were a couple of people in my town that were considered 'crazy'
One woman was known as 'Mad Mary'
She lived alone and was rumoured to have put her baby in the oven to keep it warm
Another man was called Tommy and he walked around the town muttering to himself
Looking back now, I can see that they were both mentally ill
They weren't crazy
I don't think that crazy exists and if it does then we are all crazy
I think people are afraid of mental illness because it's not something that they can easily understand or explain
So people pretend that it's not there

I though that this documentary was good
I think it gave an accurate account of what life is like inside one of there units
Beth's story was particularly sad
She was such a beautiful looking girl yet all she could see when she looked in the mirror was fat
I hope for her sake that she manages to overcome this and doesn't become stuck in the recover/relapse cycle
The outlook is hopeful though
Because she has caught her illness early there is every chance that she will make a full recovery
And I hope and pray that she does
There are so many of us suffering
Some in silence
I'm glad that this documentary was sown because if nothing else it will get people talking
And that has to be a good thing

Saturday, 22 June 2013

I was delighted to receive an email from Tracy over at today
Andthenshedisappeared has been nominated as one of the top20 eating disorder blogs on the web 2013
Here is the link address

Thanks Tracy, this truly made my day!

Friday, 21 June 2013


My life is pretty much ruled by numbers so I thought I would do a post dedicated to them
Are you like me?
Do numbers feature heavily in your life?
Answers on a postcard please.......

43:  Weight in Kilos

81/50:  Blood pressure today

77: Pulse

8:  Cups of tea I drink every day

30:  Number of mls of methadone I take every day

7.5:  Number of mgs of olanzapine I take every day

15:  Number of mgs of mirtazapine I take every day

60:  Number of minutes I walked with my dogs today

9.67:  Price of my groceries today

3:  Number of times I purged today

12:  Number of cigarettes I've smoked

40:  Cost of the dress in euros I wore today

2:  Number of enemas used today

4:  Number of appointments I had this week

16:  BMI

7:  Amount of kilos I've lost in the last 3 months

2: Number of naps I've had today

8:  Number of hours I slept last night