Tag: mental health in the family

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

Protection in Emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

“Closing the drawbridge” – eating disorders and rigidity

PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION – this post contains discussion of eating disorders (primarily anorexia), description of my eating-disordered thinking patterns, and a link to an article about studies on calorie restriction

[Wow, again it has been too long since I have posted in this series. Sorry.]

Many books about eating disorders, in particular anorexia, mention rigidity of thinking as a symptom which emerges as restriction of food increases and weight drops. When I worked at an eating disorder service, it was frequently described in inpatients on the ward. I’ve been pondering why this is and how much did I experience it when I was anorexic. I never used to think that my eating disorder was about control, although I now would take that back and I think I did use it if not exactly for control, in order to separate myself from my mother’s abuse and protect myself (and, I thought, others too) from demands, emotions and the dangers I felt they presented.

Perhaps it is logical that counting calories and measuring portions and exercise, forcing yourself to adhere to a punishing regime of starvation and painfully excessive activity in the very weakened physical state of anorexia, requires a strong, almost angry, obsessional drive. Sticking to this above and against all the natural urges of your body to keep you well and nourished, to the point that your body consumes its own muscle for energy, requires a steely determination that must be fuelled from somewhere. This could be seen as rigidity. It could easily spread to other areas of cognition and daily routine.

Certain chemical changes in the brain are thought to contribute to this rigidity as well, I believe. Two studies were conducted in the 1950s, using as participants conscientious objectors to National Service and former prisoners of war. One of these is the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, where starvation was imposed on physically and psychologically healthy participants who had no history of eating disorders. As the participants’ calories were reduced and their weights dropped, their thinking patterns became more rigid and obsessional thought and behaviour patterns emerged. When their calories were no longer restricted, they also became vulnerable to binge-eating. You can read more about Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Study here. (It would be considered highly immoral by today’s standards, although perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that one purpose of the study was in order to find out how to care for and manage re-feeding and weight restoration in victims of starvation in several countries following World War II.)

I am not sure to what extent rigid thinking was a big feature in me when I was severely underweight. Others who knew me at the time might disagree! It was mentioned to me on a couple of occasions.

On further thought, perhaps I did not struggle so much with rigidity over, say, my daily timetable – with the notable exception of excessive exercise, as I forced myself to swim a certain distance a certain number of times per week, until I was so exhausted and weakened that I could no longer move through the water which felt ice cold, my legs cramping, and I would drag myself to the changing rooms with my skin purple and blue, bruises appearing that did not heal and no number of layers of clothing warming me up.

However, if the rigidity was not externalised, it was certainly internal. This is what I think of as the “closing drawbridge” of anorexia that locks up or locks away everything we fear. I’ve talked in previous posts about the blissful, safe numbness of anorexia, ensuring my emotions were in check and flattened, and ensuring the evil I perceived in me was locked away to hurt only me, weaken only me, so that I could not hurt anyone else. Locking up the perceived evil locked up feeling, too. No more panic – just obsessive counting calories, distances, how to hide or avoid food. No more fear – just explicable pain, wonderful blanks and emptiness, safe empty gnawing in my stomach. No need to feel others’ feelings. No need to be hurt or be overwhelmed. Just glorious numb, nothing, whiter. lighter, clearer than before. No needing; no taking; just closing down, separated, apart from everything, locked up safe, pushing away and always succeeding, taking nothing in, frozen.

As a friend pointed out to me recently, emotions take energy, just as physical exertion takes energy, so with vastly insufficient calorie intake, there simply is no energy with which to feel. Despite the lack of energy, the drawbridge was shut tight and closing harder. The further I starved and restricted, paradoxically, tighter shut the door and even stronger came the energy driving me on, not to need, not to feel, not to fear, not to touch anyone or anything.

Coupled with that strength came a desperation never to leave this closed up place and never to need or feel again, to remain unreachable, to keep safe away and to keep everyone else safe away from me. If I could just be sure to hurt myself enough and never to eat, this wonderful place would stay with me. The fear of everything the drawbridge kept away joined the energy and both drove me harder and deeper into the numb place of anorexia.

Combined with my mother’s illness and abusive actions, there was no shortage of reinforcement from the outside that this numb place was good. The only period of my life in which my mother’s emotional abuse and threats reduced and in which she was even caring towards me, in which interactions with her were free of threats and scorn and twisted statements about the harm I was doing to her and my father, was when I was severely underweight with anorexia so severe it was probably life threatening. I was no longer a danger and no longer seemed to be so evil. I even thought perhaps she loved me. I even dared to hope perhaps the evil thing I was sure was in me and that came out and hurt and controlled and deceived everyone, was gone. If I could just stay like this, perhaps it wouldn’t come back. On the other hand with the drawbridge tight shut my body was mine as well, only mine, and the anorexia was mine, and she would never come near me again, literally never touch me again.

(Perhaps that was the one thing that was eventually true in all my twisted anorexic thinking. She did abuse me sexually during the anorexia but afterwards, she didn’t ever abuse me sexually again.)

Until I started to eat again and weight restore, there was only one thing that cut through my rigid defences, and that was singing. I’m not a particularly good singer but I was in a musical at my school (more because I used to be able to dance, than for my voice, I think!) and afterwards I took singing lessons, which were about the only part of my later school years that was enjoyable. Although I enjoyed singing, during the anorexia I would find that the music had a peculiar effect. We didn’t usually sing particularly emotive songs but I would often find music bringing me to want to cry or causing a strange twisting feeling of unease inside me, as though it was draining away the rigid kind of energy but I wouldn’t let it go. My mother prevented me seeking any professional help for my eating disorder but the only two people to whom I did talk about it honestly at all at school were my singing teacher and my art teacher. (My swimming coach was also very concerned about me and to some extent I did talk to her but, for some reason, although I knew she cared and was a safe person to trust, I was never able to be truthful to her, I think because in some way I feared hurting or disappointing her too much.) I don’t know why music and to some extent art, broke through the rigid protective mechanisms, but it did. I know that music can be very helpful in therapy for people with various conditions, including dementia and depression. I’ve never read about it in relation to anorexia but that might be something I should look into!

The struggles I have with overpowering, overwhelming emotions in my Borderline Personality Disorder, are the complete opposite of the protective place I entered in my anorexia, and they are an excess of feeling and needing which are probably, actually everything I feared. If I’m honest the numb place was safer. I’ve long lost the way back there and lost the key to the drawbridge and I hate that and I’ll admit that in the worst times, when I really hate myself and everything I feel and need, I wish I could return and it’s hardest at these times to try not to punish myself with cutting or purging. I’m trying to learn how to choose life and staying connected to other people – and to my body and my emotions – without the unbearable and dangerous becoming all that there is.

Ginny xx

How often do you “need” to spend time with others?

I’ve been trying for a long time to arrange to meet to catch up with a particular friend. We used to be close and live in the same city, but we haven’t met since a very brief meeting at Christmas, and before then the last time we met was at a an event at her Church in September. I miss her a lot and have been feeling very sad that we live so close but meet a handful of times a year and never in such a way we can catch up properly.

Part of the reason we don’t is that she has a family now, including young children, and I completely understand and agree that family comes first before friends. Still I’m sad to see her so very little – and also (and this is a big part of my feeling) worried for her. She gives all her time to her children and various numerous volunteer works at her church and parish. She home-schools her two older children. She almost never suggests meeting up, she never seems to socialise except for seeing other mothers at home-ed groups, and she told me she hasn’t met up with a friend for over a year. She never takes any time for herself and she does not seem to have any desire to socialise.

Should I be worried about her? I am, very. I feel like she must be so tired and drained and stressed and never have a moment to take care of herself or do something she wants to. Most of all I fear she never has any time that really is for talking and sharing with her friends. I know I wouldn’t be able to cope with even one day of her schedule let alone the foreseeable future.

I think she is amazingly strong, dedicated and generous to her family and she is responsive to their every need (let alone all the time she volunteers). She has clearly made big sacrifices. She says she loves it and never feels the need for any break or to see any one. I just can’t see how she can possibly be well or happy and it seems really isolating to have so little contact with others.

At first I was hurt that she had no interest in meeting – i made no end of suggestions and she declined them all and didn’t suggest any alternatives and pretty much said she doesn’t do that kind of thing. I was lonely and upset already and I’m sad that we are no longer close friends. She really matters to me and I care for her and miss her. There’s only so much you can keep a friendship going and only so close you can be when you only text message and email. And I’m worried for her welfare, as I said.

Perhaps I should just accept that she says she’s happy and she is. It got me thinking, perhaps it’s a difference of personality. She’s happy not to leave the house for several days at times, whereas I usually feel compelled to go outside, see the outdoors, be around people,  even if I’m not meeting or speaking to anyone (except when I’m very low and not going out is then a sign I’m very unwell). Meeting up with someone is of no interest to her, whereas it’s very important to me, although there are few people I trust and am able to be with at the moment. That probably is a particularly bad combination and makes me particularly needy with the few people I do trust! I need time alone too and have times it’s all too much but loneliness is a big struggle for me. So I’d silence, which is another thing she loves. Perhaps it’s as impossible for her to understand my needs, or values in a relationship, as it is for me to understand hers and how she can be well and happy in her current situation.

I wonder whether she doesn’t value meeting in person, spending time together in friendship, catching up, doing some things for herself outside the family and so on? Or does she just need less of them?

This got me thinking, do we all have such very different needs firstly for contact with other people, and secondly beyond that, what I somewhat inadequately call deeper or more meaningful interactions (a good conversation with a friend you trust and can be “real” with,  as opposed to eg a passing interaction in a shop or talking to a work colleague – all are important but I know I very much need to be able to share how things really are sometimes, not just keep up the acceptable businesslike front where I seem to be well and in control of myself! ).

What do you find that you need? What is important to you in a friendship? How do we know which is normal?! I think my therapist would say that’s one of those questions where there isn’t a definite answer right or wrong. … I’m left wondering in this friendship,  firstly if she’s really okay or not and then how can I be there for her, when she has no interest in regular contact? How do we keep up a friendship with someone whose values here are very different from ours?

Ginny xxx

Fat, and hot, and horrible.

The hardest thing about the quetiapine (and venlafaxine maybe, though I attribute it more to the quetiapine) and clonazepam is what it’s done to my body, or rather what I’ve let happen.

Fat. Disgusting. Sweating and hot (that’s the pain meds too I guess). Conscious of my expanded body. I have gained so much weight in the last couple of years. And I’ve let it happen. It’s true the drugs make you gain weight and increase your appetite, but I’ve failed. I haven’t stopped it.

I’m repulsed when I pass a mirror and see the foul reflection, bigger and bigger; when I feel the flab around my stomach and waist, the one thing I used to be able to keep flat and small even if I did have chunky thighs I hid under skirts. It’s everywhere. Crawling disgusting flesh and fat.

Why did I let it? Why? Why did I return to this demanding sick big disgusting body? I want to rip and claw and cut. It’s out of control. It’s all wrong. Growing and needing and hungry and hurting inside and out, aching within, stabbing in my stomach, darts and shooting burning pains as my feet touch the ground and my joints feel like they’ve been smashed and bruised.

Failure. Why. Hate. Hate hate hate this growing sick too big too present body. Even in my dreams I’m fat fat fat, running and clawing to get out of my body. My mother is there, shouting and mocking and threatening and I wake up drenched in sweat and shaking because the nightmare is real now. I couldn’t save her and the foul thing I am stares back at me out of every mirror.

And I cry.

Telling

Telling

On Tuesday I made my statement reporting the years of emotional and sexual abuse from my mother. Two officers were with me for about 3 hours. There were a lot of preliminary questions and forms to complete then my statement was recorded by a small camera. The recording itself may be used in evidence, and a transcript will be typed.

It was a bit surreal at first, but the anxiety was rising in my throat and pumping through my whole body. I thought it would consume me and I would not be able to speak. The officer stated the date, time, place, who was present. Rather like on TV shows, except this was real. Then I spoke. I spoke for about 50 minutes with just a few breaks and questions, then there came more questions at the end.

The officers were incredibly kind and compassionate and made the process as “best” as it could be in this situation. It did make a difference. They were respectful, and gentle, and had empathy for the impact and the cost of speaking. I know from what readers have shared in the comments on other posts that this is not everyone’s experience of reporting this kind of crime to the police. How I wish it was.

Right now I feel shattered, like the picture. I’m so tired. Every joint feels as though it has been smashed with a hammer. At the end of the day at work today, my legs are hurting so much I can only walk very slowly and my feet recoil from the ground. Partly it’s the fibromyalgia and arthritis. Partly the stress, I’m sure.

It’s as if I don’t really know how to stand right now. I know that it was the right thing to do and that I needed to give this statement. Yet those 3 hours change everything.

Suddenly those “touches”, those words, the coercion, the threats, the violence, are unquestionably crimes. A substantial chunk of my childhood written, taped, recorded, in a couple of hours. What happened was no longer sickness (or no longer only sickness). No longer to be excused. No longer misunderstanding or as she sometimes claimed, the product of her fear. It was a crime. In the police’s words I am the victim of her crime. My mind is shattered, too, try to understand this concept….

Ginny xx

Inexplicably disturbed

Near the end of the day at work today, someone was apprehended in the store for shoplifting. She looked young, about 14 or 15 or maybe younger; a small,  plainly dressed girl, who would have been almost studious looking in another context.

Something had been going on all day because all afternoon whilst I was working on the till, our security staff were on the shop floor in much higher numbers than usual, all apparently observing a particular area of the shop. It was one of those situations where your gut tells you “something is not right” – apart from the security presence my attention kept being drawn to a similar area of the store as if clocking something unusual that was slightly off.

I get those feelings. I group them with the way I pick up too strongly on others’ emotions and sense and know things others don’t. It can be a help, empathising, or sensing danger faster, but it’s so draining and an aching weight too.

For some reason as I watched a policeman and two security guards handling this young girl and escorting her, gripped tightly, off the shop floor, suddenly I felt a surge of fear. Not just anxietybut fear. I was completely disturbed. I wanted to run. It took a massive effort to concentrate on helping close down the till and complete my tasks. I can still feel this fear now over an hour later.

Why? Why was I frightened? What of? Was I frightened for her? She was silent but struggling and clearly very strong. I couldn’t read fear in her eyes exactly but something was wrong, not there. After some time the conscious thought occurred to me that she wasn’t alone shoplifting, she was someone’s marionette.

Admittedly I was stressed already, tired and feeling physically ill from the latest OD (don’t worry not life threatening or anything) and I’d had several difficult interactions with customers already.

Yet I can’t understand the level of fear I felt. Perhaps I was reminded of the police having to forcibly “escort” my mother into the transport to hospital, restraining her, with her alternately violently struggling or “playing dead”. Did I remember that? But I didn’t see and hear it although the level of emotion was the same as in a flashback.

Can you have a flashback only of emotion?

Ginny xxx

She needs someone to hold her

Tonight I’m aching. Physically with my back hurting and a stabbing pain all round my hips and stomach with the endometriosis; inside with something I can’t soothe like a loss that’s pulling me apart. I know it’s childish. .. the little child I turn back into when I’m as drained and feeling as… left …as this really needs a hug. I really need someone to hold me as if that would stop me losing it, stop some of this fragmenting.

Nobody ever held her. Not when she needed it. She doesn’t want pity. She knows it’s no great wrong in the scheme of things and her problems no greater than anyone else’s, in fact far smaller. But she wishes someone understood and accepted and held her.

Going to the police

[TRIGGER warning for mention of and thoughts around memories of childhood sexual emotional and physical abuse, reporting abuse and so on; also as I wrote I know I’ve gone totally crazy and this post could be frightening.]

I’m waiting for the police to call me. A DC called me earlier in the week and we talked about making a statement reporting the abuse. (I’ve another post I haven’t uploaded yet about how this all came about – will upload that as soon as I can. ) We decided I’d take a few days to think and the DC would ring me back this evening about 7.00 to talk again. He hasn’t rung yet. But I can well understand they’re busy and have emergencies to deal with. I’m just on edge and really unstable today.

However, my decision is made. Funnily enough my friend’s actions yesterday, when she knew I was in pieces and really needed help and had asked her please did she just have a little time to talk about how to get through reporting what my mother did to me – she messed around the time of the meeting, then still left me waiting 20 minutes, made sure we had no privacy and very little time so I couldn’t talk about a thing and then left me when I was really distressed and unsafe (why exactly do all this? Why not just refuse to meet? Why trick me again and pretend to be there, drag it out and string me on more and more desperate?) – all of that has crystallised my decision in my mind.

This is yet another time nobody hears me and nobody is there when I’m most desperate. When I try to tell them about this it gets brushed off, I’m not allowed help, I just have to keep going and be independent, nobody will listen, they say I’m making impossible demands. … when I have had absolutely everything I needed to be safe taken away then I’m thrown out on my own and told just get on with it you’re responsible for your self. … it’s a really sick game.

Nobody will help me. They’ve tricked me.

I don’t want anything to do with them again. I’m not letting them near me.

I will report what she’s done. I found out she attacked a paramedic, attacked my father twice at least, as well. So what she did to me she is capable of to others too. If others can be in danger from her it makes some difference too. I thought perhaps it was only to me. She had so many delusions about me. The things she did were always bound in some way to those. That we were being watched, that I had a special intelligence and knew her thoughts exactly and had plans to punish her, that I was causing my father to have a heart attack or her to be paralysed, that people had done things to me and she had to check it out and then show me what a woman I’d be taken to would do when she examined me – that was her way in when she started putting things inside me. Was it all bound to her sickness? How can we know? Her intent wasn’t the same as an abuser who take sexual pleasure from it if she was sick and doing it because of weird beliefs? What does that mean? Was it a crime still?

And so much was emotional. Does that count as a crime? She trapped me and trapped the family and isolated me totally and did quite a good job of the same with my father. She made false allegations about my father. She told me I was saying and showing my father had abused me sexually unless someone else had done it and she told me I had to tell her what had happened or that was what it meant. They’d be taken away and go to prison and all because of me. So I had to tell her. I had to stop it. I lied but I had to stop it. I could have got someone else in trouble with my lie though. I was 6 or 7 I should have, must have known. I took it back as soon as I made myself dare. I took it back and I hate myself since. I hate the foul thing I am to do that. I know I invented something – so I can never trust myself and never be sure because I did that. She told me for years how evil I am inside. If i lied like that perhaps I could be. It’s not perhaps. I am.

But she encouraged me in the story. She didn’t go right to the police. She told me I’d be taken to be examined. She kept coming back to me to get me to tell. She showed me books and wanted me to draw pictures. Something is not right. Something is not the normal action of a frightened or worried parent. Was she actually sick getting some pleasure from it? That thought has never been in my head before today.

I’m going to the police. They will have to listen when they take my statement. Perhaps they will tell me. Perhaps they will find the sick thing in me and if I’m evil they’ll punish me. They’ll take me in. They’ll tell me if it’s abuse or if it’s me that’s the sick one and invented in some twisted part of my mind. They’ll tell me if she was sick or if she was abusing me. She did hurt other people and maybe at least I can stop that. I need the answer now because I am going mad with this and this will be how I get it because everyone else I trusted has decided I don’t get any help and have to be left. I think the police are my very last hope now.

Ginny

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

“You will never touch me”

[I am sorry I have not updated this series for a while!]

In my first period of anorexia, one of the greatest functions of my eating disorder was a kind of defiance and separation. Anorexia definitely changed my personality, or rather, it was often as if there was a separate personality, much stronger than my own, rising inside me and gaining strength as I got thinner. She was strong and defiant and could not be hurt. She could keep me away from everyone and every thing that hurt me.

I was about 15 by this time and had suffered at least 11 years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation. The family unit of my mother, my father and I were increasingly isolated and cut off into my mother’s sick (in both senses of the word) world and anything that tried to penetrate it led to terrible consequences (her sickness, her threats to kill herself, her threats to abandon the family, her threats of breaking up the family or of me causing her and my father to die, be taken away and so on). Anything that posed a risk to the world of her twisted thinking, delusions and manipulation had to be invalidated or removed. Visitors weren’t allowed to come into the home. Any social contact had to be planned and rehearsed beforehand, carried out to Mother’s specifications, reported back to her, analysed against her pre-prepared script. The daily routine had to run exactly according to her needs. She had to be recognised as super-human, a genius that nobody could ever sufficiently understand, the victim of everyone’s cruelty and misunderstanding who was so gracious as to forgive everyone because she “loved” them so much. Appease, pacify, agree, conform….the disaster wouldn’t happen, maybe….

My eating disorder couldn’t appease, pacify, agree or conform. It couldn’t be manipulated or invalidated. My eating disorder could defy, protect, shield, consume, grow stronger, defend, refuse to succumb and refuse to be controlled or analysed by her and even refuse to recognise her at all.

I remember that eventually, as my weight dropped and dropped, even Mother started to worry I was too thin and getting weaker. She’d encouraged my eating disorder at first, requiring my weight loss and dieting and reminding me how ugly I really was. Eventually it snapped out of her control and I think it was the one thing that actually scared her.

One evening, she called me into her bedroom. She told me to get undressed and stand in front of the full-length mirror. She’d done this many times before in order to shame and humiliate me and to slowly and methodically point out all the bits of my body that were bad and “too plump” and “too much fat”. Usually it followed a ritual weighing and reporting of my weight to her, her disbelief and being forced to repeat weighing myself in front of her. Now I flatly refused to weigh myself in front of her, but delighted in doing it in my bedroom in secret (always in exactly the same place, lining the scales up with a particular pair of floorboards) and was satisfied with the thrill of seeing the pounds drop. But for some reason, this day, I did obey her to get undressed and stand in front of the mirror. This time, instead of pointing out the places I was too fat, she pointed out where it showed I was too thin. Even I was shocked when I was forced to look at where the normal shape of my behind had started to flatten and disappear at the base of my spine. She continued telling me I was too thin and how she was worried.

A thrill of power went through me. It was frightening but I had never felt power like that. No, I thought. No. This is my body. All mine and you will never touch me again. In total silence I walked away from the mirror, away from her, out of her bedroom back to mine and got dressed again. I resolved to lose as much more weight as I possibly could and get as sick as I could, because this meant she would never ever touch me again. I hated her at that moment. I don’t think I was thinking of the sexual invasions, specifically (and indeed a lot of them I didn’t even accept as invasions at that time), but of all the hold she had on me and all the hurt. She would never do it again.

I had an awareness, somewhere, that she was worried for me and she was upset, and that my father was too. At that time, the need for the protection and power of my anorexia was much greater. I had become quite a nasty person, disregarding the hurt I was causing people who loved me (my dad loved me, if my mother didn’t). Or the anorexia in me was quite a nasty personality and I was becoming that personality. The power of anorexia was stronger than my usual nature.

Of course, it didn’t really stop me getting hurt, and it hurt lots of other people in the process. Eventually, it was acknowledging my father’s fear of what was happening to me that started to bring me out of this first period of starvation. To this day, I am not quite sure what, at that time, made me acknowledge that and shifted the balance of power towards empathy and reason, and away from the protective force of anorexia.

Ginny xxx

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

 

 

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

I am sorry for being away for many days and for being behind on replying to comments. The last two weeks have been very mixed. I’ve been blessed to have the friendship of a couple of very supportive friends local to me, who were so kind to me over the Christmas days. Also, I’ve had a struggle over this time as always, and a very upsetting event through which I felt I absolutely couldn’t go on.  Again I was blessed with a friend who could see hope for me.

I will write more at the weekend and catch up on everything once this busy week at work is concluded.

You are all in my thoughts. I’m praying particularly for anyone who finds this time of Christmas and New Year taxing and hard or painful, as I know so many of us do. All we cannot find or do or be can be all the more hollow and isolating round this time. Loss is more raw. I’m praying for tiny little lights and encouragements and the knowledge that you are good, can do good, to help you through one hour at a time.

In my belief, at Christmas Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He came as a little baby to ask for a place in our hearts and He came right into our darkness and poverty. So we are with Him right now in the midst of all the hardships. He asks no great deeds of us, only love. We need not overcome all our weaknesses to be with Him because precisely in weakness He came to us. We only need to be still, with Him.