So I had actually completely forgotten I had a WordPress blog. I know that I wrote my only other proper post (if it wasn’t already obvious) when I was in a very bad place indeed. I would say I remember, but to be honest I don’t, really. I was so unhealthy, both physically and mentally, that I’ve blocked a lot of it out.
Now, I’m in a much better place. I still have problems, but a relatively hefty dose of antidepressants has gone some way to making them manageable. My eating is a lot better; my disordered mind wants me to think it’s ‘too good’ now, and that I need to eat less, lose weight etc., etc., but I know that’s not true. I could definitely stand to do some more exercise, but that’s something I know I’ll start to focus on when the more pressing matters at hand have been dealt with.
I’m currently looking for a new job, and I’ve handed in my notice without anything in place. This is terrifying. It could be a lot worse, of course; my boyfriend’s mum has said we can stay at her house for a month, as she’ll be away. My boyfriend has just started a job in the city where she lives, so it works out well. That’s why I’ve handed in my notice – my boyfriend got a job back where we want to live, so we’re going back. It’s not just a case of me following him; I have really not enjoyed working for the company I work for at the moment, and J (my boyfriend) moved here for me, so it’s really my turn. That doesn’t make my current situation any less stressful, though. I’m not even sure why it’s quite so stressful. I’m not going to be homeless, and I have people around me who can help me if I run into financial problems. I think the main stress for me at the moment is that I’m not sure how much more rejection I can take. I’ve had several interviews, and applied for well over twenty (maybe thirty) jobs, and had a combination of rejections and silences.
I went to a good (notoriously so) university, and I have always achieved high grades. I’m creative, and pretty good at learning new skills – although not always. I’m not trying to boast; on paper, these are things I have going for me. They’re not enough, though. Other people have these qualities and three years’ experience in a similar role/similar achievements that I just don’t have. There’s always someone better. This is the case everywhere. There’s probably always someone worse, as well. It’s very hard to hold on to this, though, and not to begin to think that you are the person who’s worse. Worse than everyone and better than no one. I know this isn’t true. I know it. But I’ve got an interview tomorrow and all I can think is that if I don’t get the job (which is highly likely, as it’s a fantastic job, and one I’m almost certainly under-qualified for), I’m going to fall apart. But I can’t. I have to keep going. I have to keep plugging away until I find a new job.
This post hasn’t really gone anywhere. I just wanted to air my feelings of inadequacy in the hope that they would be rationalised in my mind. It’s helped a little. What’s helped more is writing for the first time in a long time. I’m determined to do this more often. It’s easier to sort through your thoughts when you’re focusing on one at a time; you can think yourself into a tangled web, but you can only write one thing at a time.
Until next time (and there will be a next time – I am resolute),
I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder. I have, however, seen 5 different counsellors/therapists/medical or mental health professionals over the last 7 years, for reasons connected to my complicated relationship with food. At times it’s been better than others. Looking back I have said it’s been totally fine at times, but a recent re-reading of my diary from the past few years has shown that every few months at least I have always either lapsed into some kind of eating disordered behaviour (however briefly), or narrowly avoided doing so.
At the moment I’m on the waiting list for more treatment – a new counsellor who specialises in eating disorders. Yet no medical professional has ever specifically said to me, “you have an eating disorder”, or, “you have bulimia/EDNOS/whatever it may be”. This isn’t a problem on a good day. On a bad day, however, the crazy, eating-disordered part of my mind feeds off this uncertainty, and tries its hardest to convince the remaining, sane part of me that there’s nothing really wrong; that if there were really something that needed changing, someone would have been more specific and termed it as a specific condition. I’ve even managed to convince myself that all it is is that I’m really bad at dieting, and that’s why I swing between restricting and binging and purging (I hate the word purging, but “making myself sick” is a bit cumbersome and an effort to type every time).
I know this is a common issue for eating disorder sufferers. I am including myself in that, because right now the sane part of me is prevailing and I am fully aware that my behaviour over the past few months(/years) is not normal. Another way of putting that is that it is disordered. I am not anorexic, as my weight is not low enough. That is one thing that I know. I might be bulimic. I might well have EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). My weight is the low end of normal, but more importantly, it is lower than my natural weight, and I am terrified of gaining weight. I make myself sick at least twice a week, and when left to my own devices in France I was spending entire days binging and (sorry) purging.
There are a couple things I wish people (both eating disorder sufferers and non-sufferers) knew:
1) Being thin does not mean you/your friend/loved one does not have an eating disorder. Anorexia is the only eating disorder with a weight criteria for diagnosis, and yet there are several different eating disorders (some of which lead to weight gain or maintenance, not loss). Someone with an eating disorder will spend a lot of time beating themselves up for not being thin enough. That should be indication enough that there is a problem.
2) Having an eating disorder sucks and is not glamorous, weight loss or no weight loss. Take it seriously. Whichever side you’re looking at it from. Whatever their weight, someone can suffer from the eating disorder side effects people are warned about, amongst others. Just because these might not be coupled with emaciation, don’t ignore them! This is aimed at anyone going through an eating disorder as well as people who know someone going through it. I spend a lot of time trivialising my issues, because “I’m not underweight so my health must be fine”. Well, yesterday a blood vessel burst in my eye and now there’s a massive red splodge on my eye. Sexy. This is probably an indication that my body’s not too happy with the amount of strain throwing up puts it under. A few months ago I threw up blood. Not just a tiny bit. Somehow I managed to rationalise that. My hair is falling out more than I’d like. Also I am SO TIRED ALL THE TIME. All these things are things I would probably take more seriously if I was underweight. I feel like being underweight is the Holy Grail for both me taking myself seriously, and also others taking me seriously. The sane part of me knows that that is a mistake. The only person that needs that kind of empirical evidence that something is wrong is the crazy person inside my head. Also some doctors, but if a doctor needs you to be underweight to believe that there’s an issue, then it is probably time to find a different doctor.
I need to practise what I’m preaching here, as I spend about several hours a day thinking that I don’t have a real problem. That’s when I’m not obsessing about food, weighing myself, or feeling guilty for eating (this happens before eating as well as after). That’s what’s so difficult about eating problems: you can’t fix something if you keep convincing yourself it’s not broken.
It’s basically the “what’s in a name” conundrum all over again, except that eating disorders are nothing like roses, and they’re definitely not sweet. A disorder by any or no name sucks. How poetic. I may have a splodgey eye, but at least I’m destined for literary greatness.
I would really like to open this blog with a succinct summary of what it will contain, but at this point I’m not 100% sure. Not even 50% sure, actually. I might write about things that make me happy; things that make me sad; or things that make me annoyed/indignant/outraged. I will also hopefully be posting about things I bake. As time goes on maybe I’ll figure it out. I guess you can’t write the blurb before the book’s been written.
(Just as a side note – if you’re thinking, “Why has she used semi-colons in the wrong place?” and thinking badly of me for it, then I’M SORRY. I keep hoping if I use them enough I’ll develop some kind of sense of whether I’m using them right or not. No such luck thus far but I live in hope.)
I will give a few details about myself and my life though, just because…well, just because it feels like a good starting point. I’m not going to give my name, but in time I will come up with a pseudonym of some kind, in case a name is needed for narrative purposes. I’m 21 years old and female. I would normally say I’m a girl because I don’t feel at all grown up enough to be a woman, but saying I’m a 21-year-old girl sounds like a bit of an oxymoron… I’m British and I’m a linguist, studying at university. I’ve just come back to England from a year living in France as part of my course. The year had its highs and its lows. Highs were amazing experiences and amazing friends, and lows included a slip back into disordered eating patterns which I’ve struggled with on and off for 7 or 8 years now. Some of my musings will probably be about things related to this, such as society’s crazy attitude to all things weight-related, which is becoming more obvious and more frustrating to me as time goes by.
I really love baking, and although I’ve recently lost motivation a bit, I’m planning to start again properly (after an ovenless year) and bake some of the things I’ve been cooking up in my head (pun totally intended).
And there you have it. A brief overview of not very much. I realise you cannot really peruse one solitary post, and so there’s not really anywhere to go from here right now, but in time I’m hoping this post will look like the wise elder of the tribe from which all the other members descended. Speaking of descent, this has now descended into rambledom. This was not the plan. Welcome, anyway!