Mental Health Stories

Falling Apart & Starting To Mend [Part 2]

Part 2 of an insight into loneliness, self-esteem, bullying and eating disorders. The content may be triggering for some of our readers.

It’s Easter weekend. A time to spend with family, to relax and to indulge. For someone with an eating disorder, for me, it is one of the most stressful times of the year alongside Christmas. There is a lot of pressure to enjoy yourself. I always want to appear perfect – I have the idea in my head that these family days should be perfect. There’s also a lot of food – big meals, chocolate. It’s my worst nightmare. I want so much to join in and I can. It’s scary but when I have to, I can make myself eat.

I’m an expert at pretending things are fine. But I can never enjoy it. All the time I’m eating I’m thinking ‘How can I make up for this?’, ‘How much exercise do I need to do?’, ‘How many days to fast?’. It’s exhausting. I hate ending these amazing family days in tears. I’m not naïve enough to think that Sunday is going to be easy. It’s going to be bloody hard – as it has been for the past few years. But I am hopeful that by the time Christmas comes back around I will really and genuinely enjoy all aspects of it, including the festive food.

After my nan had confronted me, I knew that I needed to change. However, my illness meant that I thought I needed to become more crafty, more secretive, better at hiding what I was doing to myself. I couldn’t hurt my nan like that. My grandparents are two of the most important people in my life. I adore them both and would never willingly hurt them. The fact that I have, that I lied to them and deceived them, and my whole family for years, shows the strength of eating disorders.

I decided I would have to start eating or at least appearing to eat. Of course, breakfast and lunch were still no go’s. Breakfast, in particular, is hard for me – I guess it felt like eating in the morning was ruining the day already. That’s how I feel every time I eat – the day is ruined, I’m a failure. Eating in the morning only serves to make those feelings stronger and often triggers destructive behaviours.

I started ‘eating’ more at meals – I actively increased my portion sizes. A lot of the food was spat back into my drink cup. I would down the cup full of water (this often made me feel nauseous so served a double purpose) at the beginning of the meal. Then I would chew and chew and chew, it had to be at least 50 times. I couldn’t physically force myself to swallow otherwise. After that, I would go to take a drink and spit it back into my cup. I’m actually repulsed at myself. It’s disgusting. But at the time I was proud. I was fooling everyone. I was going to win. I was going to lose more weight.

Of course, as the eating disorder worsened I realised that I would still be absorbing calories. Plus I was still eating even if the calories were limited. That’s when I began purging. Into a money box. I was convinced the toilets would be too obvious. I hate sick. I have a fear of being sick when I am not in control of it. But it feels like such a release to purge. I hate it. My eating disorder loves it. Again it shows the strength of my eating disorder that ECG’s and blood tests have shown me the damage I am doing and yet at times I physically cannot stop myself. I don’t want to do this anymore – that’s why I’m getting the help.

I became miserable and depressed. I was starving my body and my brain and I couldn’t cope with my life. I wanted control but I had lost control although I refused to accept it. That’s when the self-harm started. It started with pinching and punching but very soon progressed to cutting.

It annoys me when people say cutting is for attention. None of my cuts were in visible places. They were never intended for anyone to see. It was another form of control. It was a release. It was addictive. And one of the biggest regrets of my life. I don’t know if my scars will ever fully fade. I hope they will. But if they don’t I hope I can view them positively. I hope I can say – that’s a sign of the war I thought. It scarred me but didn’t defeat me. I won.

The battle has only just begun but I am determined to win. I refuse to lose any more friends, any more of my life to this illness.

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