Thursday, 27 November 2008


Something propelled me tonight to come here, log in, and click the "new post" button.

I have nothing to say.

I'm not "depressed", but there is this lingering wall of sadness standing strong around me. I'm tired. For no reason. I'm sleeping for about 12-14 hours a day. I've done absolutely nothing productive the last few days. I sit, I stare at the wall, I think, I try not to think. I start making lists, then tear them up and start over. I have an ever-growing stack of mail piling up that I'm not remotely interested in opening. About 10 unread text messages in my voice, several unplayed voicemail messages. I stare at the computer and click from one link to a next. I'm not reading or even looking. I'm being weird and I'm well aware of that. I just don't know WHY.

I microwaved an Amy's burrito for lunch today. Stared at it for half an hour then stuck it in the fridge. Dinner time rolled around and I pulled out the damp plate with the cold burrito sitting on it. I sat and ate in silence. I couldn't taste it, couldn't feel it in my mouth or going down my throat.

I feel completely dead inside.

Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful is recognizing what you have for what it is, appreciating small victories, admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we're thankful for the familiar things we know and maybe we're thankful for the things we will never know. At the end of the day the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.

-Grey's Anatomy

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I Don't Want To Grow Old (With Anorexia)

Do you ever think about the future? Stupid question, perhaps- everyone thinks about the future in some way. Whether it's planning dinner or picturing a wedding, the fact that time doesn't *stop* is one thing that is certain in life. I mean, do you ever think about when you are older, say 30 or 40 years from now, and you are looking back at your life?..

It hit me this evening that I am terrified of growing old, spending my years like the recent few. I am terrified of reaching the age of 80 having not eaten my own birthday cake since I was 11, of not eating my mom's cooking when I had the chance, of not eaten a piece of pie at Thanksgiving. I'm scared that time is moving too fast- that I'm going to wake up and my life could be over. Having never had a real job for any length of time, never had a meaningful relationship, never had a day where I didn't obsess about food/weight.

I'm TERRIFIED, not that I will die as a direct result of my eating disorder, but that I will live my life in the grips of an eating disorder. If you can call it living.

I remember when I was diagnosed, at the age of 12, with anorexia. It never occurred to me that I would be dealing with this for more than a few months. I didn't think it was POSSIBLE to struggle with this well into my 20's. I am now 26, which means that over half of my life has been consumed by this disease. The thought of another year is bad enough- the thought of a lifetime of this? A "lifetime" is a long-ass time!

I want to change. I need to change. There MUST be another way. There MUST be more than this.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Digging For A Cause

I really have nothing to say right now. I still have the feeling that I have been run over by a bus, still feeling like curling up in bed for the next 6 months, still having no desire to do anything/see anyone. Hell, I haven't switched on my phone for 3 days, never mind actually called anyone.

I don't know where this came from. A week ago things were really starting to look up, then all of a sudden, "BAM". A couple of things did contribute, looking back...

I was living in London with a friend's family a few years ago. I was working with a treatment team, had my friends nearby. I wasn't doing "well", but there were concrete plans in place to help me move forward. My dad (who has always been opposed to "treatment" and thinks I should just sit in a garden and be healed by nature) persuaded me to move to Scotland and live with him. I knew that there were/are VERY limited treatment resources in Scotland but he assured me that *he* would take care of me, that his wife was a dietitian who would stay at home with me, that we would eat together, do things together- set up our own "care plan" to avoid another inpatient admission. I stupidly agreed. Packed my bags and left. It became obvious pretty early on that things weren't going to work out for lots of reasons. My dad worked long hours so was never home, his wife and I didn't get on so the atmosphere in the apartment was horrible, never mind "healing". I didn't know anybody, didn't connect with the therapist I was assigned to and regretted moving, but going back to London at that point wasn't an option. So I stayed. Within a few months, I NEEDED to get away and focus on my recovery which was when I went to New York for treatment. Whilst I was there, it became apparent that I would be there longer than the anticipated 3-4 weeks. I couldn't give a date for WHEN I would be back, and my dad, out of the blue, called me in the hospital to say he was selling his apartment, moving abroad and putting all my stuff in storage. His reasoning was that he was retiring and needed the money from the sale of the apartment to live off. I understood this. I wasn't happy about it, knowing that if/when I returned, I had nowhere to GO, but it was his apartment/his money/his choice.

Fast forward to now. I am staying with my mom, in the storage room of her apartment. It's also my brother's room. He is away at college so doesn't need a big space since he's never here, but the room is filled with his and my mom's stuff (I have 2 small suitcases in the sitting room behind the sofa and have gotten rid of most of my things because there was nowhere to put it). I am in the process of registering as "homeless" and applying for "supported housing" (ie, a shared house with 7-8 people who struggle with mental health problems, mainly psychotic illnesses- been in one before and they are SCARY places to live). On Friday night, my older brother came for dinner and just happened to mention that my dad is coming at Christmas, having bought an apartment in the city. The plan is for my older brother and his girlfriend to live there and pay rent to cover the mortgage until my dad moves back.

I am so angry and hurt about this. I don't understand why my dad sold his place with such urgency, making out like he desperately needed the money, and now less than 2 years later has bought another property (which I am 99% sure was more expensive). I am angry that I gave up EVERYTHING I had in London to live with him and believed his lies. I'm angry that he has put me in this situation of being "homeless" without accepting any responsibility for that.

Most of all, I'm angry with myself. I'm 26. I should be working full-time, living with friends/by myself and not relying on my parents at this point. But I am. I'm just angry and hurt by the situation, and there are so many unanswered questions. None which I feel I have the right to even ask, never mind get answers to.

Wow, that was long.

So yeah, that was on Friday. Saturday morning was when I woke up and things had "changed".


Saturday, 22 November 2008

Pushing Through?..

I haven't written for a few days because things have been going well. I seem to have less to say when I'm feeling better- I've been busy with non-eating disordered things, applying for jobs, planning, planning and more planning. I've been eating better, sleeping better- altogether on a far more even keel. I've been excited about the future again and pushing away any negativity and doing what I need to do in order to MAKE a future.

Until yesterday.

I don't know what happened, or why my mood crashed or *what* happened. I just suddenly realised that I had no desire to do anything, nothing concrete to hold on to. My dreams and hopes suddenly seemed incredibly unattainable and childish. I got up yesterday, on autopilot, ate my breakfast and stared at the wall for an hour. Went back to bed and slept for 3 hours. Got up and didn't really do anything all day. It's VERY unlike me to not even go for a walk, but I had no desire to even brush my hair, never mind pick a play list on my iPod, throw on my scarf and hit the streets. I ploughed through the day somehow, hoping that today would be different. I followed my planned meals, acted "as if"- hating myself for eating, hating myself for making the couple phone calls I mustered up the motivation to make, for filling out the forms sitting on my desk. I did it anyway thinking that today would feel different. Better.

Today has been a similar story. Got up at a ridiculous hour (4:30 am), ate breakfast on autopilot, stared at the walls and went back to bed and stared at the ceiling. Decided I might feel better if I got out and DID something so walked for a couple of hours in the freezing cold until I couldn't stand being outside anymore.

I've been home for a few hours and everything feels wrong somehow. I'm tired. I feel deflated, hopeless, despondent. I don't know what the answer is right now- nothing has changed from 3 days ago to now. I just don't feel motivated anymore.

Maybe I went too fast? Maybe I didn't go fast enough? Maybe I did too much, too little, the wrong things? I don't know. I wish, wish, WISH I could go back in time to 18 months ago and try to do things differently. Or 2 years ago. Or 3. Hell, 15, and see if knowing what I do now, things could be different.

(not that this way of thinking is actually helping anything...)

Monday, 17 November 2008

A Few Words To My Mother (vent)

I'm definitely recognising a pattern in my mood fluctuations. Daytime is generally better. Weekends are hard, and evenings are often unbearable. I am linking this to a few things- evenings, I am definitely tired. That's a big on. I don't recognise "low energy", but I feel the pain and despair growing as darkness falls. Another factor is that my mom is home in the evenings and on weekends.

I mentioned before about certain people causing obstacles in my recovery, and the need to break off contact. For now, I am living with my mom so there is very little I can do. I am SO grateful to have a roof over my head, but I'm starting to wish I had taken the offer of going down the "psych unit --> homeless hostel" route instead. I can't relax around her. I feel like I need to be constantly proving myself. Proving that I am not useless, not worthless, not destined to live my life in institutions. I find myself applying for jobs, flat-hunting, making phone calls, etc, PURELY to avoid the barrage of insults and accusations. Honestly? I'm scared of her. I'm scared of her judgements, her verbal assaults, her screaming and yelling. I'm spending money I don't have to buy food for both of us to avoid *that* issue being thrown in my face. I refuse to turn lights or heating on to avoid *that* issue. I clean up after she goes to work and again once she has gone to bed to avoid *that* issue. I'm constantly on edge around her which just adds fuel to the fire. We sit down for dinner (I cook) and it feels like "X-Factor". Me, rattling off the list of oh-so-productive things I have done that day. Yet it's never enough. It's not enough for ME and it's most definitely not enough for her. Why didn't I go to a pottery class? Why didn't I go to the library? Why didn't I join a club/write a novel/win a Nobel prize/climb Mount Everest?

Why? Well, dear mother...let me tell you something. I am struggling right now to keep my head above water. I am painfully AWARE of the fact that I DON'T have a degree, I DON'T have an active social life and I DON'T work in some high-flying well-paying job. I do not need reminded, time and time again, that I am too old to be living with my mother/need to get structure into my days/need to get a life. I can't do it all at once. If what I am doing right now is stopping me from overdosing again, then that's enough. If what I am doing right now is improving my physical state so I CAN start enjoying things again, then yes...that's a priority. I'm sorry if this doesn't sit well with you. It was hardly my life plan either m'dear. BUT, I am moving forward. I am taking steps. I have an interview tomorrow for part-time volunteer work. I have broken out of my "oatmeal for dinner" routine. I am reading the news again. I am in touch with my friends. I'm SORRY I can't just be *fixed* purely because YOU are frustrated with the situation. Trust me... I feel my own frustration with this all.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

On My Own

Last night ended rather disastrously. I don't know what triggered the surge of emotions, or why I didn't even fight the urges I was having. It seems that as I give up some behaviours, others crop up- hitting hard, with me, unprepared to adequately fight them.

In hindsight, I was tired. I hadn't slept well for a few days. I'm incredibly lonely here in Scotland, becoming increasingly frustrated at the conflict that arises from wanting to *be* well, and not sure if the steps I am taking are the "right" ones. I'm tired of fighting myself. Tired of fighting the constant barrage of obsessions and compulsions, and tired of...well to be honest, the overwhelming desire to recover. If there was no WANTS involved, I'd surrender to the thoughts and the conflict wouldn't arise in the first place. It's the in-between stage of wanting to be sick/wanting to be well that provides the breeding ground for any kind of negativity.


Today is a new day. I got up and ate breakfast. I've been trying to increase my intake over the last few days and for the most part, have been successful. It's causing a lot of anxiety for me, but I am pushing forward and hoping it gets easier. Nobody KNOWS I am doing this (well, anyone reading this does!) and it's hard without support, but I've come to realise that people, for the most part, don't actually care anymore.

It's not about them anymore.

It's not about who has answers, who can help me, who can support me, who can love me.

I'm on my own now. I'm terrified and lonely and spend a lot of time fighting the urge to SCREAM or CRY or just reach out and hug someone (ha- sure that would go down well, lol) but it's the reality I am facing.

Perhaps it will feel more empowering in the future- to know that *I* did this. That *I* created a life for myself, got back on my feet and said a big "F*** you" to the people who have caused more of a hindrance than anything else. In the future. For now, it hurts like hell.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Importance Of Belonging

I have decided, that no matter what, I need to make sure that I am *okay*. Not in a selfish "it's all about ME" way, but that despite the chaos and negativity going on around me at home/with my treatment, I am able to take care of myself. I am in the process of cutting off contact with certain people- they ones who mean well, but have too many of their own issues for me to be a part of their everyday lives.

Anorexia provides me with the security/predictability that my home life never has and it's only now that I am realising how important it is to have some kind of "family", whether they are blood-related or not. To be a part of a caring and nurturing environment is what I want (and need) if I am going to heal. Maybe I'll find it in friendship. Maybe religion. Maybe living in a small close-knit community. But *somewhere* there is a place where I will be unconditionally accepted.

It's okay to want this. It's okay to need this. It's okay to belong- to find my own niche in life where I am in the company of others walking the same path. I need to figure out who *I* am, beyond the identity that anorexia gives me, and then find a place to finally call "home".

Friday, 14 November 2008

And Just Like That...

...everything crumbles again.

I've been doing better the last couple of days. Feeling brighter, more hopeful, more determined to get my life back on track. I've called insurance companies, treatment centres. Reached out for help, dusted off my old DBT manuals, prayed (for those that know me, this one may be a surprise- I'm not exactly religious!) I've been eating better, sleeping better, looking forward to things again.

One of the things that has been occupying my time has been trying to find a treatment program that is either free, or accepts my insurance. I finally found one, after several long conversations with the insurance company. The logistics are tricky. It's in New York, but nowhere near anything- in itself, that wouldn't be a problem, but the program runs from 4pm - 8pm 5 days a week, and is about a 2-hour commute each way. I don't think it's going to be an option. Actually, that's not true. It COULD be an option. But nobody else thinks it is. My mom walked into my room tonight and said, "I think you should just try to see if what's on offer in Edinburgh is enough".

I don't know quite why this has shattered my positivity the way it has. I'd RATHER stay here and improve things at my pace. I'd RATHER settle somewhere for a few months and focus on voluntary work, etc. But I don't know how well it's going to work out. I only seem able to sustain my motivation for a few days at a time, if that. Throw in the recent suicide attempts and I think I'm in over my head at this point in terms of putting things back together on my own.

I don't think 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for a month or so is going to do a great deal in terms of my mental OR physical state, but it might be a jump-start and is at least *something*.

I don't know. I could rent a room for the few weeks, or stay in Edinburgh, or...just flail wildly until someone sees I'm struggling. I WANT so desperately to be able to do this myself. I seem to have lost all concept of what's NORMAL though- how people spend their days, what they eat, what they think about, what they do for fun, how they just get on with "life".

I feel so lost. I want to move forward, I just don't know how at this point.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Less Choice, More Choice...Whaaat?

Some of my decisions have been made for me- for now at least.

Things in London aren't going to work out. So my choices are staying in Edinburgh, or returning to the US. I have a lot to consider. This afternoon has been spent on the phone to insurance companies and programs in the US, and various organizations in the UK.

I like the attitude of providers in the US. Health care is not easily accessible, but the treatment I got, for the most part, was worth fighting for. Sure, some of it was crappy beyond belief, but they all hold the same basic idea that EVERYONE can make a full recovery. I'm looking into various types of programs. I don't know if I want to commit to a long-term program right now- I have nothing stopping me, but I guess...well, I'm scared. I don't know if 3-5 weeks of 4 hours a day is going to make much of a dent in my behaviours/mindset and may make things worse? I don't know.

IF I stay in Edinburgh, the plan is to see my therapist weekly and be monitored by my GP. I've hated the place I go for therapy since I started there. Something about it just really rubs me the wrong way- perhaps the stark contrast between the attitudes there and the attitudes of that in the US. Being written off as a lost cause/hopeless case at the ripe age of 23 when I first went didn't sit well with me.

Staying in Edinburgh means I don't have to get well. I don't have to fight my eating disorder, don't have to face up to my demons and *gasp* move on with my life. I can drift from one low-key job to another, occasionally be admitted to hospital to stabilise, maintain the bare minimum "safe" weight. Forever. And that is what my life would look like- therapy, blood tests, meaningless/boring jobs, the social isolation that anorexia brings. It's a pretty bleak prospect.

The US is somewhere I HAVE to be healthy. It's just not negotiable. And that is what has appealed from day 1- I want to be there? I have to be doing well. No "maintaining the bare minimum weight", no staying in bed for 3 days or walking for 12 hours a day. I have to be eating properly, have to be working, have to be healthy. It works for me because I have so much social support and love the lifestyle/culture/family I have there so much that I desperately WANT to be a part of LIFE. Not like here where I honestly don't give a rat's a** about anything.

I am trying to think of ways of bringing what I love about NY to the's hard. Things are different. People are different. Life is different. I know that peace/happiness/whatever starts from within, but I also believe that environment is where it breeds.

So many things to think about right now.

Meanwhile, I need to figure out how the hell I am going to add in a tablespoon of peanut butter to tomorrow's meal plan...(and yes, I am aware of the fact that eating 90 calories worth of peanut butter should be the LAST thing on a 26 year old's mind).

Monday, 10 November 2008

Uncertainty Breeds Opportunity?

I'm still swinging wildly between highs and lows, and still have no idea what is going on.

I've realised a few things over the years- the main one being that without a definite plan, I tend to go a little crazy. Also that even when I have a definite plan, I'm looking for the *next* thing which results in me being crazy. This knowledge is all fine and well- doing something with it is a whole different story.

The current plan is...there is none. I still have the option of going to London I think. I'll find out more on that front on Wednesday. Honestly? I hope that the day program says they are only offering OP initially because then I can cross London off my list without having to make a decision myself. I know that I want to be in New York, and I know that in order to get there, I need to be stable enough to work full-time without having some kind of breakdown/relapse. Struggling with anorexia and dealing with the US health care system is difficult. Struggling with suicidal ideation and dealing with the US health care system is NOT something I want to face (leather restraints and visions of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" anyone?)

So somehow I need to get back onto my feet and figure out how this time in New York will be different.


Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday is the day I find out about London and what the eating disorders service there are recommending. I also meet with my therapist in Edinburgh (lovely woman who told me I am a waste of NHS resources...quite a self-esteem boost). I also have an interview for a part-time job which sounds interesting/cool/fun/useful (in terms of something concrete on my resume/experience and all that jazz...)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Wants V Needs

I'm definitely feeling a lot brighter today. I feel like I have more clarity in my thoughts, my ideas are less clouded by despair and hopelessness. I have a clear vision of WHAT I want, and that's part of the battle.

The last couple of years have been about trying to figure out something very basic: do I want to live or do I want to die?..

Having made the decision to LIVE am now faced with the task of figuring out exactly how I go about *doing* that. It's not so simple as breathing, eating and sleeping.

I want to create a "life worth living".

I know, on a basic level, that food, sleep and oxygen are essential to staying alive. There is so much more than that. We have other needs and wants too...there is a difference between "wants" and "needs" and I struggle to see wants/desires as important in day-to-day life. Maybe that is part of the problem.

It's okay to want things. It's human nature to want things. It's okay to want to have friends, hobbies, pleasure. Food...that's a tricky one for me. It is, to all intents and purposes, a basic need. A part of me believes that, and another part of me believes that it is merely a "want" that can be brushed aside and ignored.

According to this, food is a basic physiological need.

There are so many layers above the basic needs. At least I know where to start though, right? Prioritising physiological, then working on the rest. One layer at a time...

Friday, 7 November 2008

What Should I Do With My Life?..

In order to avoid falling into the same panic as I have been, decided maybe writing down my thoughts/feelings and the facts might help me figure out what I am going to do from here.

Backtrack a little...

The plan when I returned from London was as follows:

- get involved in local Buddhist community events
- use the limited support available from eating disorders service to the best of my ability
- enrol in a part-time course to brush up on computing skills, etc so that when I do move back to NY, have better job prospects
- look for part-time work (either voluntary or paid)

Then I got a phone call this afternoon from the eating disorders team in London saying that day treatment MIGHT be an option for me. Which would mean delaying New York and somehow figuring out a way to live in London whilst engaging in treatment. This poses a few problems. First of all, London treatment was the better of the UK options available to me. It's hardly great treatment. Better than what I have right now, but I'm not convinced that it's reason enough to move (initially had been combination of school AND college). I know and trust this program, but again, the treatment for adults in the UK isn't about recovery in any way/shape/form, and I don't want the stress of moving to spend 5-6 months in a day program where the goal is to "live with my anorexia". I've pretty much made up my mind that I *will* recover and will do anything for that to happen. I don't know if I can do it myself, but I am not convinced that going back to London PURELY for the day program is a wise move.

But it MIGHT work. Yes, I would much rather work things out here whilst living in a semi-stable environment, focus on learning/work/community activities/socialising but again, I don't know how well that is going to work's pretty much what I did when I came back this time last year.

There is so much to consider. So many options and so many limitations.

A few things I am certain about...

- I want to live in New York
- in order to DO that, I need to be in a strong enough position mentally and physically to hold down a full-time job and not *need* so much input from medical team
- friends are what keep me going. It's my social life and the culture in New York that I absolutely LOVE
- I need to recover. No more time to waste pissing around, trying to "stabilise", pretending I am tryingreallyhard when I know I could be pushing myself a LOT harder than I am

The real question is, how do I get from where I am to where I want to be? If I get the opportunity, do I try the day program in London? Or do I try to work with what's on offer in Scotland? Or do I brush it off and focus on building a life for myself based around community support/the real world and try to 'squeeze' my eating disorder out of my life? Or do I go into an inpatient program in NY (refeeding- nothing more) and hope that with weight gain comes something more? (Kind of "been there, done that").

Aaaaaargh. I'm so confused.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Life Isn't A Game. There Are No Winners. feels like a long time since my last post, and it feels almost foreign right now as I read it back. A lot happened after writing my previous entry. I ended up back in hospital for a few days. It was decided that I could be discharged on the understanding that I return to Scotland and live with my mom. The alternative was to stay in the acute psychiatric unit until the eating disorders team picked up my treatment (they were offering 10 outpatient sessions, starting in January). None of the options appealed much, but I decided that moving back to Scotland would be the best bet for now. For a few reasons. All of which I seem to have forgotten since my plane landed last night.

BUT, as unhappy as I am about living with my mom again, I am feeling a strange sense of optimism. London felt almost as New York did last summer- one knock-back after another, doors closed in my face, everything just crumbling.

I did have some amazing conversations whilst I was in the hospital and in the day following my discharge. Not with psychiatric patients, not with mental health professionals, not with my family. But with people my age who I happened to meet (where they worked- in Starbucks, at the airport, or on the bus). I don't know quite what it was about these conversations that touched me so deeply. Perhaps how peaceful they felt. They didn't have high-flying jobs. They didn't live in great apartments, struggle to get through each day. They seemed content with what they had. They were a pleasure to talk to, to be with. Just to have NORMAL conversations about random stuff. I don't know if it was just the stark contrast between the thoughts tumbling around my head at the time and the mundaneness of everyday life, but it really did make me think about my situation and how I am NEVER content with what I have. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself in any given situation to be the best, to strive harder, to push further. Inevitably my standards become completely unattainable and I shrink back into the shadows of my eating disorder because I *know* I am good at that.

So, yes. Being around for the last week has introduced me to a world that was (and still mostly is) alien to me. A world of contentment, acceptance, recognising what is REALLY important, what life is REALLY about. No, our conversations didn't get to that level ;) BUT just interacting with these people has opened my eyes a little and given me lots of food for thought...