Tag: self-hate

Exercise without returning to extremes

WARNING – this post discusses weight loss and eating disorders

I saw the nurse today as I had to have an ECG. I’ve had a lot of chest pain lately which is thought to be costocondritis but the GP wanted to check my ECG again. I’ve also been potentially diagnosed with another condition but that’s a story for another time.

Whilst I was there, the nurse took my weight and height and we decided I’m going to try the exercise referral scheme again (to a different gym this time), to have support to try very gentle swimming or at least exercises in the water.

It is time for me to do something about the fact that I am really upset at how much weight I have gained in the last 2 years, through poor diet and through my medications and being very sedentary as I often can’t walk more than a very little way unaided. The weight is increasing my hate of myself and my body. Not succeeding in losing it by my familiar means over the last few months has increased this hate even more. I know this isn’t a healthy thought pattern and I know many of my “familiar means” are eating disorder behaviors. At the same time, I am now slightly overweight according to BMI recommendations, so I need to lose weight for my physical health; also I need to care for my body’s needs by eating healthful meals rather than oscillating between starving and junk food, as has become my habit through lack of money and depression. I need to try to do some kind of exercise to improve my physical strength to manage the pain from my chronic conditions better.

So I have to figure out how can I manage my situation now and the changes I need to make without plunging deeper into eating disorder thoughts? How do I start an exercise programme without using it to punish my body? How can I keep track of my weight and control my diet without returning to my totally addicted state and the ever-present revulsion at my body tipping back over into self-harm and purging?

Does anyone have any thoughts about how to lose weight and change your eating to get back to a healthy weight range, when you have a history of binge-eating and bulimia? Are there any particular resources on this topic? I know that somehow I need to address the pervasive disgust I feel towards my body and ideally I’d do that first, but it has been present most of my life and I can’t allow my weight to grow to an even more unhealthy level. Most of my life since age 3 when my abuser started to use weighing me and controlling my food as one way of punishing and shaming me, I’ve been overweight, severely underweight or plummeting or ballooning between the two. I have lost all concept of normal food intake and normal appetite.

Ginny xxx

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A closing drawbridge and a silent cry: when it’s less safe

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry

Eating disorders and personality disorder

When it’s less safe, but I am no longer my abuser’s child

WARNING: this post contains mention of childhood abuse, discussion of my experience of anorexia and disordered eating and the purpose it served for me in my eating disordered thought processes.

When I started drafting this post, I didn’t actually intend it to form part of this series on eating disorders and personality disorder. I didn’t realise that it would be so much about my eating disorders, but it turns out that it is. I started writing tonight in preparation for my therapy group tomorrow. Last week, we were talking about feeling safe. In the discussion, I said that at some points during therapy (around the past 14 months so far), I’ve actually been less safe than when I was not in therapy. In hindsight, perhaps I should say, felt less safe. It has felt less safe. Despite this, I still feel therapy is a process I need and want to go through. Someone asked me a question about that, to which I struggled to verbalise the answer. I’ve thought on her question during the week. I’m not going to write what she said because I don’t want to break her confidentiality, but I wanted to share the reflection she has led me to about becoming more or less safe during therapy.

As soon as I tried to explain, the familiar eating disorder thought came into my mind – when I was anorexic it was safe. I know how sick and dangerous that thought is and how illogical, the physical destruction of my body having been so clear. Yet, there was a point not very long ago in therapy where I so desperately wanted my anorexia back, because it would have been safe, and not so much too much. With anorexia, I wasn’t too much and nothing was too much. (Except food, of course!) I was encased in a safe, protected place, and I felt nothing but its power, voice and drive. My emotions and my body made no more demands.

With anorexia I could be certain in the knowledge I was starving, punishing, weakening, enough to atone for what my abuser told me I was, enough to avoid the damnation I thought I otherwise deserved, enough to ensure I was not a threat. Enough to satisfy my abuser.  And even years after I had got away from her, I thought perhaps anorexia could take me back to that one time where it had seemed she wanted me, seemed through a child’s eyes that perhaps she loved me, the one time I wasn’t bad, where I was so weakened she took total control. That would be totally safe.

I was never cared for by her. Total control stood in for care instead. The closest thing to care and safety for me was my total self-destruction, total physical weakness, allowing her to take total control of me. My BMI was about 13. I was in unbearable pain in my back and legs. I could just barely walk with crutches and had to spend a lot of time in bed. She took control literally of my movements, my food, my use of the bathroom and toilet, my washing, my dressing and undressing, my weighing (any action that could have and should have been private, she invaded) my contact with other people (even the doctors who wanted to help me, whom she prevented me seeing most of the time). Telling me what I was thinking, telling me what I was doing to the family, telling me what to say, total control – but this total control was the only time that the terrible powers and terrible intentions she told me I had, seemed to cease. My body and my mind ceased to make demands and I succumbed to her totally. This was the only safe place. The rest of the time I lived in fear of what I would do to her or the family and of her terrible threats coming true.

Paradoxically, at other times my anorexia gave me something that was nevertheless mine. It was my anorexia and my body. I think I’ve written before how when she had me strip in front of the mirror, a fierce voice in my head said, this is my body and you will never touch me again, and I resolved to lose as much more weight as I could.

That determination and angry strength was unusual. It was more about cutting off. Later, I stayed as numbed and weakened as I could. Long after I was out of the anorexic weight range, physically safe, I continued to punish myself. Starving. Vomiting. Cutting. Overdose. On the outside, I could do what was required and expected. I achieved. I was together, doing what they required in terms of education and work. Again, that was safe, because I was doing what was required, my dangerous emotions were numbed, my atonement continued. Until I imploded. Everything went to pieces.

As everything fragmented, numb was no longer sure and safe. I desired the end and wanted to end my life. At the same time, my child voice that I had suppressed so successfully for so long, was screaming and desperately needed to be cared for. This was explosively dangerous. My abuser’s threats about what I was would come true; they’d be proved to be true for all to see. The evil in me would explode out of control, if I could no longer punish and weaken myself. I would cause unlimited hurt to others without even seeing it myself, but everyone else knowing the evil I was. I would never be cared for (ie in someone’s total control).

Straight away, the rejections began. (Again. Just as I’d been rejected when I had needs and sought help as a child – terrified what my abuser’s reaction would be; my father not knowing what was going on, so not protecting me.) I was not under my abuser’s control any more, but there was no care for me, no one to protect me, and the few people I trusted were not there for me. The pressures – I don’t know if consciously or not – piled on me made it very clear I am a disappointment, not good enough, not what they need me to be, that they will only accept me as long as I am moving in the direction they think I should be at the pace they have dictated.

I cannot silence the needs any more. Anger boiled out of control, hurt screamed. Going through therapy, the feelings intensified. There was no way back to the protection my eating disorder had given me. Now, when I write about how it worked and why I wanted my eating disorder back, I am horrified. I am horrified at the power my abuser had over me and how I allowed her to have it and how that made me feel safe.

I will never receive now the care I did not receive when I was a child being abused. I will never receive again the closest thing I knew to care, the total submission to another person and control by them. Terrible as that was, I feel as though I will never be sure, as I could for a brief time be then when I was totally dependent on her, that I am not the bad, evil thing I had been taught that I am.

With the loss of all my coping mechanisms, including stopping self-harming and stopping overdosing, as I have somehow by the grace of God managed not to do in the past few weeks, it does feel more dangerous. I don’t know how to find any reassurance, internal or external. My feelings, my emotions, experiences, feel so out of control and dangerous. I am no longer my abuser’s child. I am no longer what my family requires. I will never have the care and security I did not have as a child, nor will I have the safety unconditional acceptance would give, because I do not have that now that I’m no longer what they require. I don’t yet know how to exist without these things.

Part of me grieves for the loss of the eating disorder and mechanisms that kept me safe, because stupid and twisted as it sounds, they did at least protect me; despite the harm they caused, they protected me from ending my life, and though it was fairly illusory, they gave me the closest thing I had experienced to being cared for.

****

I should say that I think that another important part of the safety issue in therapy is coping between sessions with the emotions that have come up in sessions. Also, the impact that this disorder and the recovery process has across your life. Until very recently having the help of my support worker, I struggled badly with the social isolation that followed the loss of many important relationships, and the “domino effect” of all the material stability in my life falling away because of the financial problems caused by losing job after job and my erratic spending when I was out of control. Struggling with this at the same time as my emotions were going out of control anyway, my desperation for help increasing but being unheard by everyone I tried to get help from and had been led to believe I could trust, brought me very much too close to the edge. My support worker has greatly contributed to my safety now.

Ginny xxx

One of the most dangerous ways to react to someone with BPD who is asking for help when they are suicidal or self-harming

 

 

TRIGGER WARNING: fairly massive warning on this one that this post discusses suicide and self harm and issues around getting care in crisis…

Yesterday I was met with one of the most punitive, ignorant and dangerous reactions I have had from a medical professional. I wonder if people who react like this actually do not realise the genuine danger patients are in and how much further into danger this kind of reaction pushes us.

As I write this post I want to be clear that I am now safe and have received help and I am not posting this to alarm or worry readers about me. I’ve been seen in emergency services and eventually had very supportive care, which I will post about in due course. Please don’t panic about me. I am now safe and have had help. I just think what I experienced earlier is a massively dangerous issue that needs to be highlighted.

Yesterday I was absolutely unable to cope. The pressure of my housing situation, financial problems, threat of losing my flat, trying to discuss things with my landlord, my physical help, repeated errors from benefits services and other supposed sources of support, the lack of help over the past 5 months or so when I’ve been at my lowest points, the voices and flashbacks and nightmares – everything boiled over and again I was in the place where the pain and emotions and loss and guilt blocked out any ability to carry on.

I lost it and I was at the point of trying to end my life. I knew how I was going to do it. I had tried and tried but had nothing left.

I spoke on the phone to the GP Surgery. Somewhere, I guess some part of me was still wanting some kind of help or at least daring to tell someone. (They had called me over issues with a mess up over the prescription i should have had; I’d again been left without my medication. ) I admitted what I was feeling. I begged to see someone. I don’t know what made me do that, ask for help when the decision was already made in my mind that this was it now and I’d come to the end. But I did.

I admitted that I wanted to end my life and that I was self harming. I admitted that I had the tablets to overdose. I asked to be seen and that I needed help now, could they see me or get the crisis team? I said how all the mess ups with my prescriptions and benefits and no help in crisis were piling things onto me and making it more and more impossible to cope. I was having hallucinations and flashbacks. I had been asking for help for months. Now I could not go on anymore, I was going to end it. I needed help.

The GP spoke over me from the start. She told me that “you have to be extremely careful about how you are coming across” if I expected to get any medication. She then told me repeatedly, in response to me admitting that I was suicidal and self harming, that “that is not a fair threat to make to people” that “you will find I do not respond to threats” and that I am a responsible adult able to make my own decisions and there is no reason that I should take an overdose. She then announced that she was going to end the call and hung up on me whilst I was begging her to help me.

If Someone with Borderline, or any other mental health problem, admits to suicidal thoughts, plans or intentions, or self-harm, it is the most incredibly ignorant and dangerous reaction to treat them as though they are making threats in order to manipulate and must be punished accordingly. The stereotype that people with personality disorders or any mental health problem are manipulative, or that being suicidal or struggling with self-harming  is attention seeking,  are extremely dangerous. It is all the more dangerous when it is trusted healthcare professionals acting on the basis of these stereotypes when their patients have dared to ask for help, meaning that when we are in immediate danger we are dismissed, punished and rejected.

Experiencing suicidal thoughts is not attention seeking. Self harming is not to create drama or cry for attention. Admitting that you are in danger and want to end your life, that you are absolutely at the end of the road and can’t go on, that everything being piled on you is pushing you nearer and nearer the edge, is not making threats. The attitude shown by the GP today makes it impossible to ask for help when we are most in danger. I now know that if I admit to the terrible thoughts and feelings, I’ll be treated as though I’m manipulating people and will be rejected. If patients are treated like this, suicide and self harm is made something that must never be admitted to or talked about and for which help can never be sought. If patients are treated like this, all the feelings and events that have brought them to the point of suicide are dismissed in an instant, as our position is made out to be manipulative fabricated threats rather than complete brokenness.

Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I am responsible for my actions. If I self harm or attempt suicide, it is my action alone. If I cause myself harm that is done by me alone. That does not mean that the experiences and emotions behind my actions are not real, that I am not in danger,  that I am fake. No longer being able to carry on doesn’t mean I am manipulative. Asking for help and admitting to the horrible things in my head doesn’t mean I am making threats. Asking for help doesn’t mean the feelings that make me want to end it aren’t real. The fact that if I do something to hurt myself, it’s my action, doesn’t mean I’m not in danger and don’t need help.

I’m terrified of manipulating or hurting people I care about. That’s why I hide my self harm and did not tell anyone for years, why I usually don’t ask for help after overdoses… I’m scared that people may feel responsible for saving me… and the self-harm itself started in order to punish myself and hurt myself to turn it all in and not let the horrible things in me hurt anyone else, and overdosing  is sometimes about utter pain and sometimes utter rage and loathing at myself and fear of who I’ve hurt.

People who are self harming and/or on the point of attempting suicide are not nasty manipulative frauds, they are in massive pain and massive immediate danger. They do not need punishment and dismissal. They need a place of safety and compassion and they need desperately for the hurt and the danger they are in to be believed.

It is terrifying to admit to things like how close you are to suicide or that you’re overdosing. I never say it to friends (though two friends have sometimes guessed) because I do not want to make them feel responsible to keep me safe or worried I’ll do it again. That’s one thing.  But it has to be possible to admit it to healthcare professionals, if there is to be any way to get help.

Yesterday, my life was saved by a police officer who recognised the danger I was in, and by the emergency team who assessed me when he took me to them, and by the mental health workers at the safe haven I was taken to. I owe them my life. Thanks be to God.

The safe haven is a new organisation that has been running for just two weeks in my local area and I think massive good is going to come of it. I’ll post more on that going forward. Please God can that be the support other people find when they are in the state I was in yesterday, not reactions like the one I got from my GP. Sadly I think I’m not alone in what I encountered. And this isn’t the first time. I’ve encountered similar and worse lack of recognition or response to the danger I was in, and accusations of making threats or being manipulative,  from within the personality disorder service and in crisis teams.  If i am ever recovered enough to be able to somehow try to help other sufferers or explain to people what BPD is like and how to help someone in crisis, tackling this would be a massive priority for me.

Ginny xxx

Trying to be curious about trust #1

As you may know if you stop by regularly ( 🙂 thank you lovely people!!) I’m finding it very hard to trust the personality disorder service at the hospital (where I go for therapy) at the moment. It has become harder and harder over the last few months, in part due to repeated occasions where, in my experience at least, I’ve been let down, not had the promised support, or been turned away when in desperate need of help. I feel they do not believe me and do not think I deserve help and the more I’m in crisis the more they don’t believe me. Everything that happens confirms this now. In my last care coordination appointment I felt again completely dismissed, not listened to and that what was recorded on my care plan did not reflect what I was going through or needed, until I’d insisted time and time again that my care coordinator write what I actually said rather than re-phrase it in a way that minimised and avoided a lot of the issues at stake. Aargh….

I can’t explain it more than this right now because I will get so angry and out of control. Plus you’ve all probably heard me go on about it so much you’re bored 😉 ! Sorry.

I’m trying to be curious about my feelings about trusting the service and how they see me, as Mentalisation Based Therapy focuses on this and trying to be curious and open to different feelings and uncertainties about what is in our mind and other peoples’.

Right now, although I can try to examine different possibilities, I’m certain in my heart that the service don’t believe me. This doesn’t apply so much to my 1:1 and group therapy sessions. In some way the group feels honest and safe. Perhaps it’s something to do with my commitment being to the other people in the group, listening to them and being there for them, present with them, and sharing honestly as much as I’m able, rather than it being a relationship just with the service or the therapists. It applies more to when I need support between sessions, or when I’m in crisis, or talking about support outside therapy with managing daily life, or in my care coordination appointments.

After the experiences I have had so far, I am not sure what would now reassure me that they did and do believe me and do want me. I got on to thinking about how my recent falling out with a close friend N. involved my absolutely unchangeable feeling that she didn’t believe me, didn’t really want me, didn’t think I deserved help, and I was just a burden and irritation. I don’t know what would convince me otherwise (except, just perhaps, if she had come to help me when I was at my worst, in some of the times she was adamant she could not or should not come).

Not being believed and not deserving help is a big theme for me. Ultimately, I do it to myself too, because I can’t really believe myself. Some of my psychotic symptoms feed into that, with the voices in and outside my head telling me I’ve lied, I’m a fraud, that everyone knows and is thinking and saying I’m a disgusting fraud, cheated people to get help, and no matter if I may think I want to be good and try to do good, there’s all the bad things in me really and everyone else knows and I’ll hurt everyone in the end. Only self-harming in some form quiets this.

In my last 1:1, we talked about my recent falling out with N. We started going slowly through my feelings and thoughts step by step from the beginning of the day things really fell apart between us. We didn’t get very far through. Nevertheless it brought back a lot of the feelings of that day. I’d been feeling very bad about things I said and how things were left at our meeting and in our exchanges the week after (since which, we haven’t been in touch – I couldn’t anymore and felt she didn’t want to either, really). I’d been trying to write to apologise. But in the 1:1, what was even harder than this was that guilty as I felt (and still feel), a lot of the hurt is still there too.

As the memories of these feelings, and more of the feelings, surfaced in the 1:1, I suddenly felt sure that my therapist must think I’m a horrible, childish, needy, jealous, selfish, demanding, nasty person who thinks terrible things about people. Then I started thinking these things about myself together with feeling guilt, disgust that I was so evil, and worry about what would happen to my relationship with my therapist now she thought these things – I couldn’t say what I thought would happen at the time but now I think it was feeling that, oh now she’s started to realise that I really am bad after all and she’ll leave me and not want me around any more.

I was certain about what my therapist must think. Just as I was/am certain about what N. thinks about me. It was actually very hard for me to think curiously about what N. (or my therapist for that matter) would feel. I spend a lot of time certain and horrified about what the people I’m interacting with think about me, and feeling bad for what I am (because of what they’re thinking), what I cause, and the feelings that are then in me, confirming my self-disgust and self-hate. My self identity is somehow, in a way I can’t yet express properly, bound up with what I am certain the other person is thinking about me. My own feeling follows immediately being so certain of their thoughts. I am not necessarily at all able to access beforehand what I am feeling, and I am not necessarily able to think about what the other person is feeling (separate of me, as opposed to being convinced about their thoughts about me).

I am not necessarily bad at picking up what other people are feeling. Actually, I can be very accurate in it, and sense it before other people do. I’ll post about that separately and will put a link here when I’ve posted. However, in these situations, I’m entirely sucked into the certainty of their thoughts.

I am not at all able to “mentalise” – to reflect and be curious about what is in their minds and what they are feeling and what I am thinking and feeling. There is no possible questioning or genuine entertaining of different possibilities about the other person’s mind. I am absolutely certain of their thoughts about me and I have absolutely certain thoughts and feelings as a result. Even though I may at some level be able to come up with a distant idea of other possible thoughts that could be in the other person’s mind, it is completely disconnected from my beliefs and emotions.

Written down like this, it is quite easy to see that this could lead to or be part of my psychotic experiences. I am certain of other people’s thoughts about me. The voices repeat them to me. I feel disgust and guilt and horror of what I’m doing to people. Somehow I become linked with the thoughts I think the other person is having and I am all those horrible things.

I am starting to wonder whether I am actually having the thoughts (which I attribute to the other person) myself, and having the resultant feelings myself, but I am unable to recognise them or feel them in myself, and then for some reason attribute them to the other person as though I know for sure that they are thinking these things. Really they are just my own thoughts or feelings about myself.

Perhaps my certainty nobody believes me or wants me and my resultant inability to trust, is in fact simply nobody else’s thought but rather just what I think of myself – and the fact that I cannot trust or believe myself because I always doubt my own motivation for good or evil, because I have no identity except what I find in what I think are others’ thoughts.

I don’t know quite where this came from. Certainly my mother’s very unwell beliefs about thoughts and emotions during the time I was growing up, clouded my learning about my and others’ feelings and thoughts and the demarcation between them. Her deeply psychotic beliefs were pervasive and persistent. She believed that I knew exactly her thoughts even in advance and when I did not, she told me this was deceptive; she believed she knew my thoughts and intentions; she frequently presented to me my intentions as malevolent and manipulative in incredibly complex ways, when I was unaware of any such motives or thoughts (precisely because they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know that as a child); she made inconsequential, morally neutral actions (such as being able to do some particular thing or not) have a moral value or manipulative power (“repeatedly punishing her” for example); she perceived my emotions as controlling her and done to her (unless they perfectly matched hers); and this was coupled with dire threats (including her suicide, my father’s death, the family breaking apart, my parents being taken away) because of my emotions and thoughts – and of course, with the abuse.

I don’t know quite how to unpick that to find out how much does it explain how I now feel about others’ thoughts about me. Maybe I don’t need to and just need to find out how to change my certain, set-in-stone thought patterns now.

Oh my days I’m tired now and I need a hug. Think I’m going to have a hot bath and curl up under my blanket when I get home.

Ginny xxx

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

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.