Tag: Bulimia

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #4

 

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder

Chapter 4 – Frozen

So, this is the first chapter of several in which I want to explore some of the things my eating disorders “provided” to me as a way of coping.

Please note a lot of the thoughts in this post are from my eating disorder and my psychosis and BPD – they are not ways in which I’m advocating thinking and I’m not saying that starvation is a good thing even though it did have a purpose for me. I’m in therapy partly to find other ways to cope rather than turning to methods that hurt me.

Emotions are frightening. Feeling is frightening. Feeling with such intensity is deeply painful and more suffocating and gripping than I can stand. Needing is not allowed, greedy, out of control, dangerous. My body and my longing centre that wants all these things (love, comfort, that I am good enough, that I can be safe, understanding, a parent, security, home, someone there…) is despised and resented. Inside me is evil, bad and ugly and it might get out. I want and I hurt and I do harm, I’m a liar and a fraud and I punish and it all comes out when I don’t even know.

If i dont feel it’ll be alright. If I don’t feel then I can walk one day more. If only the pain of knowing everyone around me feels so much will go away. If I can stop hurting them. If I can get away, because I so need to get away and shut off and sleep. I need the thoughts and the voices to stop. I need out and away from the terrible things I can feel all the time, that hit me and grip me and tell me I’ve caused hurt yet again.

There’s one thing that stops it. Don’t eat. Go on. Just a little bit longer. Stick to the plan of what you’ll eat. Count the tiny crackers out. Slow as you can take the tiniest pieces. Stick to it all and you’ll be rewarded with wonderful emptiness. Even go longer than you planned before you eat, by the minute then the hour. .. and the emptiness will grow and the high will rush through your body leading and lifting you to a higher and whiter and emptier place.

Keep going. You can keep going now. The starvation opens the door to aclosed off, frozen place. It’s good there. The thoughts and the needing and wanting and feeling stop. All you need is empty and all you feel is cold and numb and closed away.

It’s your place alone. You’re alone and safe. The voices are silent for now and you needn’t engage with anything your body or heart demands because you’re separated from those disgusting needy screams. In your frozen place the pain has dimmed and everyone else is safe too because you’ve gone well away.

Starvation created that empty place, as though it carved it away in your mind and it’s a sure retreat for you alone. Stick to rules and emptiness and no temptation and you will stay safe there. However frozen cold it is there and however much you feel your energy slipping away and your heart pounding and your muscles weakening, it is too dangerous to leave it. The feeling and needing (yours and others’) and consuming demands are just too dangerous. The emptiness and starvation has carved out this safe place and consumes more and more of your mind, like a cave in rock that becomes bigger and bigger, empty but consuming its surroundings with the very emptiness, so that it becomes harder and harder to leave.

To recover you are drawn slowly from this place or something throws you out of it forcibly and it is taken from you.

However much I am thankful to be recovered from the terrible physical effects of anorexia and the destruction it caused to the lives of those who care for me, a big part of me still wishes that this frozen place hadn’t disappeared. In my recovery I consciously said goodbye to this place as I knew I had to leave it. I cried for it. It hurt me and my loved ones badly yet also it had protected me.

Now without my eating disorder the terror of all the feeling and consuming is around me and there isn’t any escape. And added to it is knowing that I “should” be fine,  better, out of danger. Out of physical danger, yes, but ironically into pain beyond what I know how to stand, although I also know how very weak I am not to be able to stand what others deal with day to day, and that adds still more to guilt and longing for escape.

Perhaps my therapy will show me how to walk through these out of control feelings and how to continue when there is no escape and no freezing out.

Ginny xx

 

 

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #3

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #3

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder

Chapter 3 – My History, 2 of 2 : 16+ years – adulthood

From the summer I turned 16 I started slowly and painfully to gain weight. It was frightening and felt out of control but at the same time it was about the one time I was cared for by my mother.

Even so it was tightly controlled by her. If I couldn’t keep to my lowest, most broken weight, I did want to please her by the way I gained weight back. Sounds weird, I know.

But it wasn’t long before she flipped again into her hatred of me. As I was “recovering”, she made my emotions – rising rapidly to greater extremes as I lost the perceived safety of the anorexia – all unacceptable and to be dismissed because, she said, it was all because of the eating disorder. I had to realise what I was putting the family through and how impossible I was to be around.

Then as I continued to gain, the “fat” talk returned. Now she even claimed that my father agreed with her. “You’ve got too much fat on you.” “Daddy was saying last night how he is very worried about the amount of fat you’ve got on you.” “You need to eat fewer carbohydrates and stick to protein. You’re getting far too much fat.” I know now that this was when I had only by a few pounds left the anorexic weight range, to enter the underweight range.

My weight was still going up. I was eating now but knew I was out of control. I tried to stick to what I thought was healthy eating during the day, but at night it was as if the compulsion to eat took over. I couldn’t stop. After dinner when I was doing my homework I’d go back and forth to the kitchen. Even though my parents could see, I couldn’t stop. It was as if something was inside me demanding more and more to eat and it was never enough. I longed for the control of anorexia to be back. But somehow I’d lost it. I was utterly repulsed and disgusted at myself that I could not stop eating. I longed to go back to starving but where had the energy to do it disappeared to?

If I didn’t eat, I couldn’t concentrate on my work. And I was driven to do the very best I could at my schoolwork. It was what my mother needed. Perhaps I was terrified she’d accuse me of “pretending” again and punishing her if I did not do excellently. Her grandiose beliefs about my intelligence increased about this time and she thought I was a “genius” and that “nobody could cope with my intelligence”. I longed just to be normal. Not to have to achieve amazing things and with no superb powers. I knew the grandiose things she said were not real but it frightened me a lot.

Equally she continued to pressure me to diet, to eat only salad during the day, she’d look at me hard and tell me how ugly I was, she’d watch me with a look of utter scorn whilst I was eating, she did not allow me to buy any clothes apart from my school uniform and anything I had needed to cover up how fat I was… she’d tell other people how fat I was… if anyone said anything complimentary to me in her hearing, she’d tell me afterwards how it was very nice of them to say it but I had to remember that they were only saying it to be kind or because they were worried that I might get an eating disorder again, and I must be clear that really I was very fat.

Throughout sixth form, my weight increased, and by the time I began university I was objectively fat. I was binge-eating in secret by this time and furious with myself for it. All the while I was longing for anorexia again but saw myself as a complete fraud and disgusting pig. Why couldn’t I just stop eating again? Every day I’d promise I wouldn’t eat but I’d get through a few hours, then binge.

In the spring term of my first year, my relationship with my mother was breaking down completely and I felt I was drowning in a feeling of emptiness, sadness and I was going through a religious struggle as well, believing in God but terrified of Him as well. Physically I was exhausted and following glandular fever was ill with ME and fibromyalgia which were not yet diagnosed.

Somehow, the pain enabled me to stop eating again. Over a couple of weeks, I reduced what I was eating very fast. I stopped eating solid food and survived on slimline Cuppa-Soups and diet hot chocolate. For 8 weeks, this was all that I consumed. I lost a substantial amount of weight. My friends concerns and discovery of my “eating” patterns led me to start eating again out of guilt that I was hurting them. But I continued to restrict and was sure never to go over 1000 kcal per day.

The next year or so continued like this. My ability to restrict food was still not as strong as I wanted and I lapsed into bingeing. Now I had discovered purging as well. I am not sure how. I started to take laxatives after binges, or try to go running (which I couldn’t because of the post-viral exhaustion). I would overdose daily on laxatives and not care that they made me too ill to do my coursework.

Still I was utterly repulsed by my body. It represented everything foul and uncontrolled I believed was in me.

When I worked in a department store over the summer between my second and final years at university, the physical activity helped me lose weight and some of the anorexic mindset returned. I reduced and reduced my food during my final year and my weight plummeted again. I had stopped the laxatives because they made me too sick to go to my classes and do my work, but if I did binge I would make myself vomit afterwards. Soon it became a compulsion to do it if I ate any more than salad. Doing it until I could tell myself I was sure I had got rid of everything and punished myself enough (ie until I saw bile and blood and could no longer stand up by myself) was “safe” I thought, and I was addicted to the pain and emptiness and the “high” that came afterwards.

Although my weight didn’t drop quite as low this time as it had when I was 15 or 16, mentally I was even further into the clutches of the disorder. It was the best way I knew to punish and weaken myself. I think I did realise I looked ill and realised that I was too thin. Nevertheless, eating, consuming, meant that I was disgusting and I was terrified that I would go out of all control. I did fear fat but even more I feared everything it meant to me and feared not hurting myself.

Around this time, just after I finished university, I was received into the Catholic Church. I was learning not to fear my God and perhaps on some level to understand that he did not think that I was dangerous and that my relationship with Him did not mean punishing myself enough for the badness I thought was in me, before I came to Him. The “God” I had invented in my head during my childhood (before I understood anything of the Christian faith or any more than snippets of the Gospels) was very much a judging, watching, God and to whom I had to atone for all the bad things that I had done.

Shortly after this, I started to want to recover. I was still disgusted at myself but on some level I did want to get to be “normal” and to not be dominated by the disorder. I started eating again. I was very ill physically with ME and a back problem and could not walk without crutches. As my weight went up I got scared again and, without a job at this time, I turned back to the laxatives and overdosed worse than before.

It is hard to really understand or remember quite how I got out of this stage. Perhaps the ability to restrict slipped away again. Perhaps in my struggle to eat normally I did start to win a bit. Perhaps as I got further from the extreme starvation state, my body did not have the drive to binge-eat as much food as possible whilst food appeared to be available, and my control of my appetite returned. Perhaps I just got better at resisting the hunger when I felt the urge to binge (or at replacing food with coffee!). A doctor once told me that most people who recover from anorexia go on to develop binge-eating disorder, because of the physiological and psychological effects of such starvation and being so underweight.

By my mid-20s, I was not underweight and by all external appearances, was recovered. I have to admit that I had taken steps out of the “safety” of anorexia or the temporary “comfort” of bingeing, to more normal, regular eating and an acceptable weight.

The problem was what this left me with. What I discovered lay beneath, which I could no longer conceal and suppress. When these things are too terrible, punishing myself with food / no food, with the distress of purging, is still a compulsion that I have to fight – and give in to at times. An extra struggle at the moment is that I take several medications which slow the metabolism and cause weight gain, and that physical disabilities prevent me from any exercise but walking. Poor finances also mean that I cannot eat as healthy food as I would like and the cheaper options are often higher calorie density. My weight feeling out of control is highly distressing because inside, wishing to be small and tiny is still very much there. That’s the safe thing but it’s now a safe thing I can’t seem to reach to.

I am very thankful that I have recovered to the point I have and I realise the terrible health consequences of staying at a starvation weight or purging regularly. I know the upset it causes to people who care (no matter how much I should wish to be invisible or wish nobody would be hurt but me!). I don’t want to do this to anyone. I know the physical effects prevented me from working (vomiting and stomach upsets from overdoses, heart palpitations, collapsing, debilitating weakness, cramps, regularly catching viruses and infections, poor concentration and memory, and so on) and it would be irresponsible to do something that meant I could not work. I don’t want to be anorexic again but in the dark times, I do in some way think that I wish I could go back there, at least to the place in my head that it opened.

In my following Chapters I’m going to try to describe what that place was, what terrible things I had to admit did lie beneath, and what the eating disorder meant in my life.

Again, I am sorry that this Chapter is not very well written. There is a lot that I am not sure how to explain and the memories are emotive. I’ve also tried not to go too far into my thought processes at this stage because I wanted to give an overview of my eating disorder history here, then in the next Chapters I will go on to say more about the reasons I didn’t eat, purged or binged.

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #2

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #2

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder

Chapter 2 – My History, 1 of 2 : ages 3 – 16

In this chapter, I’m going to tell you a bit about the history of my own eating difficulties, as an overview. I am not going to go into detail of my feelings and the reasons I started to restrict or overeat at each stage, as I will go on to that in subsequent chapters.

I have done my best not to go into any detailed description of the techniques I used to eat less or conceal how little I was eating and so on, as I understand that this can be triggering for people who are unwell with eating difficulties.

It has proved much more difficult to write this “history” than I anticipated. I think what lies behind each of the periods of my life is more raw than I had admitted to myself.

Although I probably did not meet clinical criteria for an eating disorder until I was about 15, my relationship with food and my body was distorted throughout my life from preschool age.

I first knew I was “fat” when I was 3 years old. I remember vividly sitting on the stairs. It was shortly after Easter. On Easter Sunday I had been given a chocolate Easter egg with my name iced on it, and some other chocolate treats. As a typical child, I guess, I delighted in the egg. I shared it with my Nana and my parents but probably not very generously! (Typically, again, for a 3 year old.) I remember that on that Easter Sunday, I was praised for sharing. But then that day on the stairs (I don’t know how long after Easter), my mother was calling me “greedy” and shouting at me for how I had stuffed my face with chocolate and everyone else just had a crumb. I remember so clearly and it hurts even now. I remember knowing I was greedy and bad, and FAT. How exactly I knew to make that link, I am not sure, but I knew it meant FAT, and BIG, and that was bad. Perhaps I had already absorbed some of my mother’s preoccupation with food and body size.

My mother began weighing me in secret around this time, and keeping the fact hidden from my dad. (My dad recalls this and has told me about it. I myself recalled it from when I was a little older, maybe 5 years old.) When my dad found out what she was doing, he told her to stop, and she agreed, but actually continued with increased frequency and forbade me to tell my dad.

From the age of around 6, she would regularly tell me that I looked “too plump” and would send me to weigh myself and report back to her my weight. She would not believe the figure I told her and would then have me get the scales, bring them to her bedroom or the upstairs landing and weigh myself in front of her. Then she would stand me, often undressed, in front of the long mirror in her bedroom and point out the bits of my body that were too plump and too fat. Then I had to go on a diet until she considered I had lost enough weight. She did not want my father to know so I still ate the main course of the evening meal, but the diet meant no snacks or biscuits (most of the range of sweets and chocolates children ate were banned in any case) and something like lettuce and rice crackers or a small amount of plain pasta for lunch. Not the most extreme by any means, but I didn’t like it. When I got older, it meant exercise in the living room as well, sometimes with exercise videos and tapes.

I did dance classes from the age of 3 or 4; two or three classes twice or three times a week. This was about the only contact I had with other children and the outside world (my mother taught me at home until secondary school age and almost completely restricted any contact with friends or wider family members). In my classes, I knew that I was bigger than the other girls. I think partly I actually was rather a fat child and partly I was very tall for my age and so of a larger build than the other girls. In any case, candy pink leotards and tights or white ankle socks were not the most flattering outfit, to say the least!

I wanted to be little, thin and tiny. I wanted to be the smallest, not the biggest. From as soon as I could start to read (which was early, around 5 or 6 years old), I would go through my mother’s Prima magazines whilst she was asleep (there was a big stack of back issues beside her bedroom mirror).  I’d look at the pictures of the women there and, as I got older, read the diet features where you were supposed to live on grapes, yoghurt and hard boiled eggs. I remember in particular, one picture of a woman in a sparkly red dress. This was the late 80s when the extremely thin, emaciated look of models was popular, perhaps even more than it is today. I had pretty much uncensored access to these magazines whilst my mother slept. (My dad would go to work but my mother frequently would not get up until a good 2 – 3 hours or more later, during which time I’d play by myself or read books and magazines that I could find lying around.)

My mother, meanwhile, was very concerned with her own weight. She was convinced that she was fat (she was not). Her morning toiletry and beauty routine took an incredibly long time. She would spend a long time on extremely precise application of a lot of make up, then in front of the mirror looking at her body. One of her delusions with her schizophrenia was that she was being bitten by insects or that there was poison under her skin, which she would try to scratch out in front of the mirror. Her eating patterns were very irregular. She would eat nothing at all during the day and instead smoke a vast amount and drink coffee and later, wine. She would then eat an evening meal (except during the terrible arguments, when she might not even eat this). I thought that was how grown up women ate and waited for it to happen to me that I didn’t want to eat any more during the day. I didn’t have enough contact with anyone other than my mother to know that this wasn’t normal. I thought something was wrong with me that I still ate breakfast and lunch.

Food was also a big focus of my mother’s ill thoughts and actions. Arguments often started during the evening meal. If the argument (her shouting, crying, threatening and so on) had already gone on all the day until she suddenly went away to bed, it would resume over dinner on my father’s return from work. When I was older and had been out to school during the day or, rarely, elsewhere, dinner was the time for her cross-examinations about what I had done, what marks I had got, who I had seen, what conversations I had had, what I had said and what the other person had said, usually followed by a rehearsal of why that was not good enough and exactly what I had to say the next time and what the  other person would say in response.

During dinner she would watch me intently, observing in minute detail how I held cutlery and crockery, commenting and criticising and even accusing me that particular mannerisms or movements were done to punish her or because I was “pretending to be a little girl” and knew it would upset her. My father and I had to give effusive praise of every part of the meal if she had cooked it. She had a rotation of elaborate dishes. Not liking something was not acceptable. Other times she would completely stop cooking at all for months on end. The food had to be set out in dishes in a particular arrangement on the dinner table. She would eat with particular precisely repetitive actions that on top of everything else, just raised the tension to absolute boiling point. If she was eating yoghurt from a bowl (it had to be decanted into a bowl, never eaten from the pot), she would circle her spoon twice clockwise and twice anti-clockwise round the bowl, then tap it three times on the top of the bowl, before taking each mouthful. As a result, she ate incredibly slowly. My father and I had to sit still until she had finished. (Even writing this my anger is boiling!) If she was angry, or going to accuse me of punishing her in some way, her actions became more elaborate and pantomime-like. It was frightening and the spring that lived in my stomach around those years coiled tighter and tighter waiting for the explosion that came no matter what I did, anyway.

By the time I went to secondary school aged 11, having been taught at home by my mother from 4 – 11 years old, I was probably a completely average weight. I was still tall although not quite as extremely so as when I was younger. I was not particularly slim but I was not fat either.

At school, able to choose what I wanted for lunch and with some spending money for break time, suddenly I was away from my mother’s intense scrutiny of my food intake. She would always watch me extremely intently if she was sitting with me when I ate. At dinner time I hated the feeling of her intense gaze. It was strange. In other ways she almost ignored my food – for example, I got my own breakfast (unless my dad did before he went to work) and lunch from the age of around 6 years old. After her hospital admissions started I often cooked all or part of the family evening meal, when I was around 8 years old. But when she was present, she watched intently, worrying and judging and controlling.

So with this new-found freedom at school, I wanted to try all the foods my friends were eating which I had not been allowed. I wanted to eat sweets when they had them. I was hungry with the busy school schedule. The result was I did definitely have too much candy and sweet food in my diet. I ate it in secret from her, fearful of what her reaction would be.

Unfortunately, when I was around 12, my physical health problems started, first from an ankle injury and then a serious knee injury, following which I was on crutches for a long time. I have a mild form of joint hypermobility which did not help.

Not able to continue my dance classes or to join in sports or move around so much whilst I was on crutches, my weight started to go up. I yo yo’ed for a while, restricting severely when I was on a diet (drinking only fizzy drinks during the day at school and eating nothing) and at other times eating far too much sweet food. My physical health problems did not really get any better from this age and I was in constant pain in my legs and back (apart from a brief period when I was about 14).

By this stage, my mother was going into hospital with increasing frequency. When she was at home, she seemed the more angry with me. I was starting to challenge more her world that was wrapped up in the schizophrenia and closed in at home, I guess. She became angrier with me for my weight. The weighing had become less frequent but she would still call me to stand in front of the mirror and undress for her to show me what was wrong with my body. I was plenty old enough now that I did not want to do this in front of her.

Nevertheless, I did want to lose weight. I still wanted to be the thinnest, the smallest, the youngest. Over the summer I was 14, turning 15, I started to diet in earnest and this was probably the start of the longest period I had yet spent on a diet. I also started cycling into the next town, swimming, then cycling home. I had gone from being fairly inactive to doing a lot of activity. My stamina had increased and I pushed and pushed myself. I would swim 30 – 50 lengths of the 50 metre pool and cycle 5 miles there an back. Though I hated my body at this time, looking back I can see I was strong and fit for perhaps the first time. All I saw was fat, and my mother ensured that it stayed that way and commented constantly on my food combinations and portion sizes and if I went down a clothes size, would say it was ridiculous and I could not be that size, the clothes were sized wrong and I was much bigger. Nevertheless I enjoyed my swimming and cycling. It gave me some freedom to get away from my mother and out of the tiny village where I grew up. I was free of her whilst I was cycling and swimming and it was something she couldn’t take over.

When I went back to school that autumn, I was pleased with the comments on my weight loss. I continued to further restrict my food intake and fill up on fizzy drinks. I would skip breakfast, hiding it from my dad, and eat only vegetables sometimes with a tiny bit of potato or pasta at lunch time. I was in a musical production with my school, which I also loved (plus more time staying at school for rehearsals equalled more time escaping my mother). I was losing weight very rapidly now and by the time the performance came, the costumes that had been ordered to fit to me a few weeks earlier were hanging loose and had to be pinned in. I collapsed from exhaustion on one day and was so very cold and could not get warm. Although nobody appeared to notice at the time, and I certainly did not acknowledge it, I was probably entering the underweight range at this point.

I then took my dieting further and further and could not stop. My memory of this time is really not at all clear so it is hard to write about. People started to express concern – teachers and even other children at my school who normally hardly paid me any attention at all. I hated the concern and attention and was angry inside. I didn’t want anyone to notice me. I didn’t want anyone to stop me. I was fine. They should leave me alone, I thought. Nothing was wrong and what right did they have to try to reach me. They didn’t understand.

I kept on going swimming in this time, but my energy was now wearing out fast and the distances that I could swim were reducing. It was as if a switch flicked. For weeks I was able to push myself on, swimming 50 or 60 lengths of the pool despite being underweight, determined to go further and further and wishing I could keep going forever. That was safe and everything else stopped. But then within a couple of days, the power had entirely gone. I was so, so cold in the water. It was hard to move. I was being dragged down and it was so so very cold. Everything was pain and not being able to breathe. Even getting changed and getting into the pool took longer and longer and I could see the teachers watching me now. Suddenly it wasn’t where everything stopped anymore – I was being watched there too. I can still remember the last day I went swimming and the cold I felt then somehow seemed to get right inside me and I could not warm up and the feeling did not leave me for years.

I was still dropping weight and by now experiencing physical effects. Downy hair grew over my arms. I was shattered all the time. I caught a cold and cough that I could not shake and would cough over and over in the mornings waking up. It hurt. My skin cracked and split and didn’t heal. I was freezing cold and even basic things like washing and changing became painful because I could not bear taking my clothes off – partly from hatred of my body but a big part of it was the intense cold. I bruised easily. I injured my toes in a fall and the bruising did not clear up for months. I started losing bladder control, often barely making it to the toilet in time. Moving anywhere was such an immense effort and I walked more and more slowly.

Somehow this did not stop me or shock me. I brushed everything off. Nothing mattered because it was all obscured by the need to become smaller and disappear and shrink. The drive not to eat was overpowering. It was a desperate, driven, angry need.

My parents were late to express their concerns. I had done quite a good job of hiding from them what was actually going on and how much food I wasn’t eating. The illness made me nasty and devious. I did not tend to wear revealing clothes anyway and wearing more and more layers against the cold hid how thin I was.

When they did express concern I was furious. It was probably the one occasion on which they both, eventually, when I was severely anorexic, expressed unified concern for me. This stunned me. I hated inside that I was hurting and worrying them. Yet, starvation was stronger.

It was my dad who got me to admit to having a problem with my weight. He spoke to me one morning before my mother had got up and there was something in the distress in his eyes that finally shocked and scared me. I admitted that morning that I had a problem. I was 15 years old.

There were still many months before I actually began to regain the weight. During this time I suffered a serious back injury from which I still have disc damage. I was painfully helpless and I think this made me start to hate the disorder. I was walking with crutches and could not get up from a chair or out of the bath without help. The starvation which had previously protected me now threw me into far more intimate dependency on my mother than I could stand.

Nevertheless, I received very little medical input or help. My memory around this time is again very very poor. It was a really distressing time and I can remember arguments I could not cope with and immense sadness and fear and anger. I know now I was causing my parents a massive amount of hurt and pain and I feel terrible guilt for this.

My mother, in her illness, was adamant that I should not have help from the GP or specialists. My GP wanted me to attend a centre nearby for children and teenagers with eating disorders and to go to therapy and group sessions there. My mother did not want me to have this. She told me what to say to the doctor and what to hide so that I would not be sent to this centre. As she had done with the threats of her, my dad or I being sent away when I was younger, she made the idea that I might be sent away to a hospital into a terrifying thing that would destroy her and mean I was sent away from the family permanently.  She coached and rehearsed me on exactly what to say. She said that she had to be in complete control of my food.

For some reason, her power over me was so great that I went along with what she wanted me to say. For some reason, the doctor believed it. For some reason, my father did not know what was really going on.

So I didn’t get the referral. I didn’t see any specialist. I saw the GP for monitoring a few times, where I’d be weighed and spout the rehearsed sentences that would make it clear that I did not need any help and supposedly was completely in control.

What realised a few years ago, when I was working in an eating disorder service, is that at this time at the age of 15, my BMI was about 13 (I will not share my weight as I know that this may be sensitive and triggering to anyone in the midst of struggling with anorexia). I had Anorexia Nervosa so severe as to be considered life threatening.

When I realised just how unwell I was when my mother had done all she could to prevent me from getting help, my view of her started to change. I believe now that she prevented me from getting help from a specialist because she knew that if I was seen by a psychiatrist, the abuse she was subjecting my dad and I to might be discovered.

A physiotherapist I was seeing for my back injury realised exactly what was going on, I think. My mother hated her. The physiotherapist urged me to try to get more help. I was too much wrapped in my mother’s constructed world to understand what was happening to me. I could not speak outside of what she had told me to say and pretend was true.

I started to gain weight and I could walk again, but just as she said, she got complete control of me again.

This is the first time I have written about this period in my life. It is very very hard and it feels incredibly shameful. I am not ashamed of having had an eating disorder and/or still having eating difficulties. I don’t know exactly what it is. Somehow telling the story seems scary, unreal and I think part of the problem is knowing it won’t just be hidden inside anymore now that I’ve written it.  It hurts much more than I thought it would. However, I think it needs to be said. It’s almost as if the purpose the starvation served is lessened as I tell it. That probably doesn’t make sense right now but in my later chapters I hope it will.

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #1

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #1

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder

Chapter 1 – Introduction

I’ve been talking with a couple of people recently about eating disorders, eating difficulties and weight. Also, a kind reader commented that it was of interest to read a previous post in which I discussed some of the ways in which eating / not eating was (and at times still is) a coping strategy for me – a harmful one, but nevertheless a way of coping with something even more terrible to me than the eating disorder itself. I’d been planning to write more on this at some point and these comments have encouraged me to post on this topic now.

There are a couple of points I wish to make clear in this introductory chapter and I would be very thankful if readers would visit here before reading any of the other chapters in this Series.

Firstly, I want to make it explicit that my intention in this post (indeed any post on this blog) is not to promote eating disorders, food restriction, purging or any of the actions or thought processes that form part of them. This post and this blog are not “pro-ana”, “pro-mia” or for “thinspiration”. These terms are painful to me to write because I know just a little of the raw emotions and suffering that go along with them, for those struggling and their loved ones. I hope that there is nothing in this post that would come across as promoting starvation. Though it is something we may use to try to cope, it does immense physiological and psychological harm to us and I really, really hope that readers suffering in this way are able to get regular, face to face, professional medical and psychological help and support. I know how hard it can be to access that, both because of how hard it is to ask for help and because there may be so little specialist treatment available, with such limited criteria to access it. This is really painful and it’s a topic I will write on during the course of this Series.

In these posts I discuss and share my personal past and current experiences and feelings. Almost certainly they are not the same as those of the next person who has/had eating difficulties (although some of the themes I’ll explore I have heard other people with eating disorders talk about as well). I think it is important not to be afraid to discuss the reality of eating disorders and how they affect someone across their life – that is, across all areas of their life and often across many years as well. I think part of not being afraid and being able to find a way to recover from disordered eating is acknowledging this impact and the factors which may have been involved in the disorder taking hold and continuing.

Part of this process, for me at least, involved admitting that not eating, purging and so on and the state I attained through these things, did serve a purpose. Perhaps that is horrible and shocking. Possibly it is no longer as horrible and shocking to me as it might otherwise be, because I have gone through years of difficulties with eating, weight and body shape myself and I have also known many people with severe eating disorders.  However, I do know, and share the feeling in myself, that it is a very sensitive topic.

I hope that acknowledging the purpose and even “need” for something that the disorder gives in a sufferer’s life, is a way to begin to understand the person and what will help them best to heal and walk the path of recovery. I believe that unless we find another way of reaching what the eating disordered state provided, or an alternative means of living, it is completely impossible to break out of the disorder to continue to exist without it.

The second thing I want to make explicit at this stage is that by talking about a “need” for something the disorder gives, I do not wish to imply any blame on the sufferer (or anyone else) or that it is anyone’s fault or choice to be ill. I state vehemently that it is my belief that nobody with an eating disorder chooses to be ill or should be blamed for it. I believe we are incredibly hurt in a way even deeper and harder than the disorder itself shows.

It is cruelly true that whilst there is no choice or fault in the illness, great strength is needed in the sufferer to contemplate breaking out of it and reaching for another way of living.

I am not yet sure quite how long this Series will be and I am open to any questions or comments readers may have. I would love to hear from you. Especially as this is so sensitive a topic, I would really appreciate you asking any questions on things that are not clear or you sharing your own experience and thoughts, which likely will be very different from mine.

Please do leave messages or questions in the “Comments” section. Sometimes I am slow to respond to comments because I have poor internet access and I am very sorry for this. I am not deliberately ignoring you when it seems that I take a long time to approve a comment or reply. I do read all you say and I am very thankful that you take the time to visit this blog and to write. I hope that soon in the New Year I will be able to set up better internet access and thus reduce these delays.

As always, thank you for reading.

Ginny xx

P.S. The title of this series was inspired by The Killers’ song “Dustland Fairytale”. I In the final chapter I will explain the meaning I intended behind the title.

Walking this Borderland #4 : 5 more minutes

 

please read the Introduction to Walking this Borderland before this or any other post in this Series. Thank you.

 

When I feel the compulsion to do something to hurt myself I find it very hard to resist and do something else to cope with the feeling or the desperate need to obey the voices in my head telling me to punish myself.

On the occasions I have a little bit of control, I sometimes say to myself,  “Wait 5 minutes. You can do it, but not yet – just wait 5 minutes. ” If I can force myself to wait 5 minutes then when I do harm myself, then sometimes a little of the initial force of feeling has passed and I do it less viciously.  I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to wait longer, little by little,  and then eventually sometimes not to self-harm.

I got the idea when I worked with people with eating disorders. One technique that may help people who struggle with purging after eating, is as a first step to delay a few minutes after eating before purging rather than doing it straight away. Then you can try to make the gap longer and longer and in this time, with support of a therapist or carer, try techniques for acknowledging and coping with the awful feelings and thoughts that are contributing to the compulsion to purge.

I’m new to doing this technique to delay self-harming. I think it’s working a little bit.

Ginny xx

 

The fear of what lies within

It was my MBT therapy group this morning.

I was very sad at the end and the frightened abandoned child part of me was crying.

I do not want to risk breaking any confidences so I will just say that we shared our feelings and thoughts around abuse suffered, memories, trauma, and times of finding out that a loved or trusted person has done something very very wrong, perhaps the most terrible wrong of violating the most delicate and intimate part of another person’s physical being and emotional soul.

I wish I could write more freely but I am very afraid to break or betray confidences, even though I do not give personal information or write under my real name. Too much rides on that to ever risk it and it would cause too much pain to everyone else in the group.

[Note – at this point I know that my writing that follows has not become very coherent. This post is a lot of things I had to get written down for me and it may not make any sense whatsoever to readers. I am sorry for that. I am not sure that any good can be gained from reading it, actually. I feel I have to write it to start to unravel some of the terror I’m feeling right now about the experiences we explored and to start to pick out some of the emotions. I don’t know well what they are right now. This comes with a warning about painful and scary themes in the writing that follows although because I don’t know if it makes any sense at all, I’m not quite sure what exactly to warn for. It does mention a memory of someone threatening and abusing and physical violence. Just…. warning…. xxx]

I am sad and cold now and desperately wish someone were with me to hold me; to hold me here and tell me what’s real, what’s not real, what’s no longer real, and maybe the hurting child part of me would be protected. She knows only she is wrong and she has harmed and she could drive someone to death – and the flashes come of the terror of finding her, there, like that – and she must be alone and she must know the bad that she has done and if she just watches hard enough perhaps she can get away before it all happens again. But still she’s crying and hurting and nobody comes. Nobody held her, nobody told her it was alright, nobody told her being loved and being able to love didn’t mean being able to get it right enough, disappear enough and fill everything she needed without fail. She cried on her own and she wished alone would stay forever then, in the little room and her make believe world with the “children” she cared for and made real in her mind and for her eyes only, where she didn’t do harm, and later where she was even allowed to cry and someone would hold her and tell her she was good and it would be alright. She could even save people in that world, be brave and strong and rescue and save, suffer hurt herself to protect and save the others. She could slip into that world.

If only the alone time always lasted. If he didn’t come home, didn’t open her door, and know instantly from her frightened watching and sometimes her attempts to block the door, and her mother in her own bedroom in the dark in bed (sleeping? Silent and still, certainly.) If he didn’t come and Mother didn’t get up (one day would she not get up? would it have happened that she’d gone away as she threatened, or even that she was dead?) then alone would last. It was frightening and panicky and hollow but it was safe and she could slip back into the other world, with her “children”. But he always came home. He knew straight away – without a shadow of a doubt she thought this – what had happened that day and what she had “done” to her mother and what had happened and what her mother was going to do because of her. He’d go in to her mother and her mother would tell him what she’d done. Then down they’d come, and he’d be cooking dinner, and the evening and night “session” would start, of Mother crying and screaming and threatening and asking her over and over why she had done it, until Mother came up with the explanation for the evil thing she had done, to punish Mother and get her own back in some twisted way. And the child wouldn’t even understand what the initial deception was supposed to have been, sometimes, let alone how that was punishing. The wrong, you see, was only a wrong if she had intended the evil and the punishment in her action. The action wouldn’t have been wrong without it because it had not any value, it just was. But there was the evil motive and intention and Mother always knew it exactly. And all the time she’d be asking, watching, shouting, accusing. And the child would be crying. Nobody came to her. Nobody helped her. Father comforted Mother, hugged her, sat beside her, stroked her feet and legs, sat with her when she went up to bed when she’d made her so sick she couldn’t cope. He brought Mother the wine and coffee she drank and the cigarettes she chain smoked. (Did he know she threw the glass jars at her? With practised precision to smash into thousands of shards directly at her feet, I know now.) Nobody brought the child anything to comfort her and nobody held her when she cried at the threats and shouting or being left alone when Mother went away and she wondered if that would be the time Mother didn’t come back – look what you’re doing to your Mother… stop crying like that, that’s what people do when they’ve had something really serious happen to them, stop sitting there dripping like a blood machine – and nobody went to her when she cried at night and nobody was there when she got up and was terrified to move and terrified of the stairs. She couldn’t tell anyone when she wet herself because she was too frightened to open the door of her bedroom to go to the bathroom in the night because she thought Mother would be dead outside and that would be the night she would find her – but if she didn’t go out it wouldn’t be real in that child’s mind – she tried to hide the wet things and when Mother found them stuffed into the back of the wardrobe, smelling, she didn’t answer why she had done it. Mother was always there. Father took completely her side and the totality of everything she claimed was the entire truth in his eyes. But nobody was there for that child.

She’s still there and scared and she wants a hug and in the flashbacks she’s all I am and I’m frozen and terrified. She needs someone to take her and not let go and never let go and she really really wants to be real and not be bad, just be the real little girl she is and not the terrible other evil things that Mother said she was doing. Is she a little girl or is she manipulation and evil and danger and damage? Is she real? Is the world she prefers to escape into real? Because it’s so much better and so much safer and it’s there that somebody wants and needs her. Please could she be real.

It really really hurt when Mother did the things she did with her body, in front of the mirror and on the bed and in the bathroom and……. inside…… it really hurt and Mother told her how to breathe so she could do it.

Why didn’t she know it was wrong?

Why was it her normal?

Why didn’t she tell? Why didn’t she stop it?

Especially in the bathroom. Because she was older then. Why did she just let her. Why even when the problems started later did she still not connect it.

Why.

Why is she so dirty and disgusting.

And most terrifying of all what if all this is a lie. What if she’s a foul ugly silly little thing and she’s repeatedly punishing Mother and that’s all this is and it’s all a lie.

Voices. Voices. And crying. Crying tired. Crying for it to stop. Cold.

And was there anything that was good?

****

And what if someone so bad – as what Rev. F. did with the young men… what about me? I thought he was kind to me. I thought he encouraged me. I thought he was kind and he always remembered my name, said hello and said he’d pray for me, and told me hope when I was in the grip of bulimia and losing the plot. I held on to the peace in the evening services as we prayed. But then he did – was doing? – that with the young men. And that was pure hurt and wrong and never never can in any way be alright and so so much harm has been caused to them. What does it mean that I thought something he did was good? What was his thinking when he did the things I thought were good? Would I have become complicit? Why did I think he was kind – someone who could do things like that? Am I so so bad too if I could think he was kind? Am I somehow open to being taken? Taken and used and used to hurt even without knowing?

Yet again. There it is. Used to hurt, doing bad, doing bad without knowing.

Can good be done without good being the intention?

Does that just reinforce that bad can be done without knowing too? Does that mean you can be bad without knowing?

Ginny – – – but not Ginny, really, tonight. Ginny’s got a bit lost right now. Tonight I’m still the frightened child. (Dissociating again.)

I’ve called her Lily – the child. I’ve called her Lily. She’s always there.

Sorry for my absence this week….

Warning: this post mentions hallucinations, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, my distressing thoughts and voices and the darkness I’m feeling right now. If this may be distressing or triggering for you, please take care.

…. It has been a very bad week. I am sorry for not posting for a while. As I do not have the internet at home at the moment it’s difficult anyway. It has also been a really bad week. The hallucinations are growing / getting more frequent and it’s scary. I am so so tired and really wish I could escape and things all stop. I’m so scared and I wish someone were with me, I wish someone would hold me and tell me it would be alright although in my head it never, never is and I feel so stupid and needy and incompetent and childish and everything else for so much needing that right now. I feel so alone. It hurts but it’s numb as well. I really need to be able to talk to and see a friend but the only two people who live close by are just too busy, their lives too full and too difficult already and I know I would be everyone’s last choice to spend time with, kind as they are, and as much as they have given me. I cannot ask for more. Then the horrible monster inside me tells me that if I had a friend feeling like this and needing help I’d go to be with her straight away, why am I always alone and not allowed anyone? Then the guilt comes crashing back, how dare I be so childish and needy, greedy, ugly, disgusting, go on, get it out, cut and cut and scratch and vomit til you get it all out you sick revolting evil thing…

I want it to stop. I nearly ended it last night. There is really a limit somewhere and mine has been reached over and over again. It’s very dark right now.

I need to write and want to write and perhaps this will build some way to keep going.

Ginny xx

On panic, lemons and stitching patterns

On panic, lemons and stitching patterns

I’ve posted before about how I find that colouring intricate patterns can be very calming.

When I was an inpatient I drew and painted a few times, which I had not done for many years. I go through phases of doing a lot of cross-stitch embroidery or making greetings cards. It seems to be something that I do a lot of and then leave for a while then return to it. Sometimes I find it helpful and calming but other times, I really want to be able to do it but am not able to. If I try to push myself to, it just doesn’t work – I go wrong all the time when I try to follow a pattern, or I just can’t put together anything pretty. Then far from helping I feel dragged down lower. It’s as if when I am completely drained and lacking in emotional / mental energy, there is nothing with which to be creative. In those states I often need to sleep, or paradoxically, to do something physical like getting outside and walking.

I’ve been on two different wards as an inpatient. One of them had a variety of craft activities available and support to use them and discover and learn new ideas for projects. For example we learnt to make plaited bracelets, worked together to put together a collage display, coloured stained-glass window images, and so on. The peer support worker spent a lot of time facilitating these activities. The other ward did not really have such resources and there was nobody to support these kinds of activities. The first ward seemed much more an environment in which it was possible to focus on having hope of getting better and learning skills to cope. Of course the access to creative materials was not the only reason (I think the work of the peer support worker was very important and I will post about that separately). However I think it made considerable difference to how the days passed.

I think in working with simple materials to create something beautiful, you can empty your mind, practise mindfulness techniques, slow some of the frantic anxiety as you become absorbed in the task. The concentration it requires and the different sensations you encounter – textures of fabric and materials, sounds, colours, deciding how to combine them, perhaps repetitive and rhythmic motions, the sense of putting together something lovely from all the separate parts – all of this helps occupy your mind. In  a similar way to distraction techniques, by filling your mind with all these sensations, they can become the focus, rather than obsessional thoughts, sadness, anger and so on. It does not solve anything but can replace some of the intensity of an emotion for a time. I can find it helpful in trying to delay self-harming as well as in times of generalised anxiety or after panic attacks. My friend who suffers with an eating disorder said that in particular having something to do with her hands can calm her after eating and help her resist the urge to binge-eat and/or purge.

My clinicians explained that there is a limited number of sensations the body and mind can experience at any one time. In personality disorder, our emotions may reach a higher level more quickly and in this heightened state, we cannot think rationally or mentalise or make good decisions. We cannot see outside of the emotion. It also takes longer than it does in most people for the level of emotion to fall. One thing that can help the emotion to fall, to get to a level where we can start to mentalise, use distraction techniques or choose to do other things that help us, is to “shock” the body with another strong sensation. For example, putting your hands under very cold water, holding ice, or (this one works well for me) eating something with a sharp taste. I use pieces of lemon, or lemon juice, with a sharp and bitter taste. This can help to lead you out of extreme distress or a panic attack, to the point that you can then address how you are feeling with other techniques. Then continuing to do something that gives positive sensations can continue to calm you – for example, something self-soothing like hugging a soft pillow or wrapping up in a soft blanket, or perhaps one of the creative activities which provides a range of tactile sensations.

There is also something encouraging to me in being able to create a picture, object, etc, which is useful or attractive or perhaps can be given as a gift to someone else, even when we are really not feeling great. It’s another way to make it true that the overwhelming emotions are not all that there is and to start to hope that there could be some good somewhere in me.

Ginny

xXx

PD and ED – some thoughts about personality disorders and eating disorders

The majority of other sufferers of personality disorders that I have met with, as an inpatient and in the community service I go to now, have difficult experiences surrounding food, for example, having diagnoses of anorexia or bulimia, struggling with fluctuating weight, punishing themselves with food-related actions (starving or making themselves sick or bingeing, or deliberately eating foods they are allergic to in order to provoke a painful physical symptom) and so on.  This is just an observation from what I have encountered and there could be many factors involved – for example, issues around weight do seem to be on the up in the UK (or at least more prominent in media coverage?) and the majority of people I know with personality disorders are women, amongst whom eating disorders are also more common.  However, it did get me thinking and resonate strongly with my own experiences of food and disordered eating and of working in an eating disorder service.

I think food is tightly bound to feelings of anger at self or at one’s own uncontrollable emotions, and makes an effective – though it hurts to use that word – form of self-harm.  When you have thoughts like: I’m so disgusting I don’t deserve to eat / don’t deserve good food only rubbish, I do not deserve to care for myself so I only eat junk, I hate my body for making these demands [to eat], go on you disgusting bitch [I say to myself] look what you’ve done you greedy pig, now get rid of it, throw up til your throat bleeds….you’re foul, you’re disgusting, look how much you’ve hurt everyone, starve and make sure it hurts……. Those kind of thoughts; or even just being too low in the darkness to respond to the basic need for nourishment.

When my eating was the most disordered, I didn’t get specialist help or even much acknowledge the problem in the worst times, despite the efficacy of the function it was serving for me.  I was also blind to it.  My mother (in part because of how her thoughts were twisted by her own sickness) also prevented me from accessing the help that my GP desperately wanted me to get. Now I know that I was underweight enough to fall into the severe anorexic weight range where dire physical consequences were a risk.  My periods stopped and I suffered damage to discs in my back during this time.  (More on my own disordered eating in another post.)  This was long before I was diagnosed with personality disorder (my eating disorder first started when I was about 14) and it is only now, nearly 15 years later, that I am acknowledging it and can articulate what its functions were.

The other day I spied a leaflet for carers in the community service I’m part of, which discussed some of the signs of personality disorders.  “Eating disorders” was actually specifically listed as a “symptom”.  This struck me in particular because personality disorder often occurs jointly with other psychiatric diagnoses but these would not be classed as a “symptom” of personality disorder.  (For example, many people with forms of personality disorder also have bipolar disorder, but bipolar would not, at least to my knowledge, be classed as a symptom of personality disorder – it is a different diagnosis which someone may have at the same time.)

I would agree that struggling to feed myself well and at times, actions that would be classed as eating disordered behaviour, are tightly related to my emotional instability, lack of control over strong emotions or thoughts that are repulsive to me, and the need to punish and hurt myself.  So yes, I would say these are “symptoms” of my personality disorder.

I talked to two friends about the leaflet I had seen – both are highly experienced in the treatment of eating disorders.  One point they made was how much eating disorders are a sign of something else painful.  It’s often thought that once someone’s problems with food and weight are treated, they are “all better”.  However, that is very much not so.  The eating disorder is often masking, indeed a mechanism for coping with, something else.

It could be numbing, or controlling.  Overeating could comfort, suppress, bury, emotions.  Starvation, I think, ironically consumes; the hunger that gnaws painfully eats away other feelings and leaves a blessed numbness.  Thinking back to my own times of starvation, I have to admit that it was, at the very least in a significant part…. fantastic.*  I was wrapped in a protective, protecting numbness, for long periods.  (The times this cracked were utterly terrible, but the times it lasted froze me in a lighter, safer state, so it seemed.)  I will explore more of this in another post.

One struggle in personality disorders is that our emotions may, with less stimulus than it ordinarily takes, reach an unbearable high where we cannot cope or think, where there’s only fear, upset, panic, darkness, anger, sadness… or much more occasionally, extremes of joy (I am not sure why the extremes of positive emotions are so much more occasional.  Perhaps do they just trouble us less as these emotions seem more acceptable, and therefore we remember these extremes less?)  In these extreme states we can’t think, we don’t act rationally, our memory may be affected, and we may take extreme actions like overdoses, self-harm, suicide attempts, and so on.  Then it takes longer to come back down from that extreme state to “normal” – the level of emotion where it is possible to cope and function and think – than it ordinarily would take.

So I think one interaction of eating disorders with personality disorders could be this.  First, the eating disorder may serve the function of numbing emotions in the first place, so that those dangerous high extremes are not reached in the first place.  Second, it may serve the purpose of bringing us down from the extreme, with their numbing, consuming, controlling effect.  It’s similar to other forms of self harm.  When I am in extreme distress and I cut, for a brief time, it deals with the emotion or makes things feel safe again because I can be sure I’m hurting myself, not someone else.

These are just my thoughts and I would love to know more about research into this.  I wonder how much there is.  I have read quite widely in my work and studies about eating disorders but have not come across very much on this topic, beyond the fact that the two diagnoses can occur together.  It strikes me that the interaction between eating disorder support services and other support services like personality disorder teams or wider community mental health teams, is something that warrants much exploration if we are to support someone not only to recover physically from an eating disorder, but emotionally as well.

*When I was in the midst of the eating disorder it frequently did feel fantastic.  I am NOT advocating eating disorders and I know rationally now – thankfully – that it was anything but fantastic when I was anorexic.  I am thankful to be recovered and for the work of specialist eating disorder counsellors and services, GPs and CPNs who so dedicatedly help sufferers.  I urge anyone struggling with food and eating to get help.

At the same time, I am acknowledging that disordered eating does serve a purpose and function.  It is a way of coping.  It is harmful, as overdosing, cutting, other forms of self-harm are harmful and risky, but it is a way of coping, just as I believe other forms of self-harm are.  I think eating disorders are a way of coping with so much more than the thought processes I have outlined here.  It is different for everyone.

I believe – and I think the clinic the two friends I mentioned work in takes this seriously – that for it to be possible to survive recovery from an eating disorder and take the next steps, treatment has to respect that eating disorders are a coping mechanism, and then enable the sufferer to find alternative coping mechanisms, for example in this case, other ways to deal with the terrifying emotions and extreme lows and highs.

Though I never was specifically in treatment for my eating disorders, I am now very very fortunate that the service treating me now is helping me find these other ways of coping, and I think that as this is the start of dealing with so many aspects of my personality disorder, it will also restore my relationship with my physical body and its need for nourishment.

Ginny x