Gloria Is Not Me

This is it. The final one. I waited a long time to write it because I wanted to be sure it really was and is.

I have not looked back since eating that midnight snack all those months ago. It was the start of a radical shift. It was the necessary revolt – statues were toppled, walls were torn down, bus seats were not given up – and it made the way for true recovery.

The defining recovery moment was when I legit failed an assignment at uni. A first for me. I’ve failed whole units in the past because I couldn’t muster the energy to write assignments. But this one I wrote, submitted and FAILED. And not even once did I try to regain control by trying to shrink myself. I found out where I went wrong, agreed and accepted it.

Gloria (remember her?) did not get one second of my time. She isn’t even here to pass judgment. And I did not seek her out for critique. I have (finally) learned self compassion and now that voice has been replaced by one of kindness. I can actually be kind to myself. And it’s not weakness. It’s not giving up or giving in. It’s also not just non-specific meaningless words. I can see the good things I manage to do, I see the things that could have been done better and acknowledge both truthfully and, I hope, rationally.

You know what’s awesome? Butterscotch pudding. Pancake breakfasts with friends. Playing frizbee and chasing my kids around the local sports field. Going for a walk because I want to go somewhere. Turkish delight and Cherry Ripes.

I can say truly that I am recovered. But I am not the same Hannah who went into this. If I were I’d end up back there. The Bible talks about refining fire. Fire (trouble) burns up the unimportant stuff and when it’s over the solid, valuable stuff is left behind. In this time I have lost a lot of junk and discovered what’s of true value. God is faithful and kind.

I have a few people to thank as well. Tony. I chose good. I love you. Phoebe and Tim. You amaze me, and I’m so privileged to be your mum. Andrew and Kylie, my friends and pastors. Your love, kindness an support have been so precious. My sister Laura. Thank you so much for looking after us and kicking me in the pants when I needed it. Jeremy, my doctor. Thank you for all your help and support and for putting me touch with other professionals. Sara, my psychologist. Thanks for your help in sifting my thoughts. Lisa, my dietitian. Thanks for guiding me and not letting Gloria get the last word. Russel, my psychiatrist. Thanks for helping me get to the real problem, my sessions with you were the real turning point. I thank God I have had you all in my life, I don’t know where I’d be if you weren’t. And you, the people who read this. Thanks for reading, and for your encouragement to not give up. Writing this out has helped me so much.

So where to now? I’m only a year away from finishing my degree and chasing my dream for real. I can’t wait.

Much love to you all from the girl who knows that

Gloria is not me.

2016-01-06 11.37.29

 

 

Advertisements

Piece o’ Cake

So much to write about that I don’t know where to begin. I have made some fantastic progress with my thinking and the reality about eating and food lately. I have been focusing on the real cause of my disordered eating and when I do that, the actual eating disorder becomes less of an issue. Weird, but helpful.

I have somehow (thank God) stumbled onto The F*%# It Diet. And. It. Is. Brilliant.

For the past few weeks I have been actually listening to my body. And hearing what it is telling me. And responding appropriately. Like waking up at 3am absolutely ravenous, and eating. I remembered when I was pregnant if I woke up through the night hungry I would, without thinking, get up and eat something to nourish my babies. No questions asked. No guilt or shame. And I should deserve the same. After an hour of wrestling with my weakness for being so hungry and with support of TFIDers from across the globe I, for the first time in I’m not sure how many years (I’m guessing less than 9, cos that’s how old Tim nearly is) got up, opened the fridge and just grabbed what I felt like eating – leftover chicken and some pineapple. And when I finished it I was still hungry so I ate some toast with BUTTER. TWO PIECES! And I was still hungry! This was a killer. But I ate some more (muesli). And ever since then I have been more attuned with my body’s hunger and appetite. Eating what she wants mostly when she wants it. And you know the crazy thing? I haven’t been eating all day every day til I eat the whole world. My biggest craving at first was toasted Turkish pide bread with a lot of butter. And I ate it. ENJOYING every salty, greasy, crispy mouthful. I’m over that now.

This past week I have been craving cheesecake. CHEESECAKE. Not some frozen mass-produced grossness. Good old fashioned 1970s Women’s Weekly classic passionfruit cheesecake. This was harder to give in to. Mostly because the ingredients are not something readily to hand, and I didn’t want a whole cheesecake. My dietitian challenged me to find a piece or make a piece (Tony offered his support in any way he could) and eat it. And not even an hour later, Tony and I were having a coffee in a cafe and I deliberately looked in the CAKES to see if they had something. I didn’t avert my eyes from the obscenity of CAKE as I got that ole familiar whoosh-of-dizzy-sickness-RUN-AWAY-no-seriously-run-for-your-life feeling. I calmly evaluated their choices and saw it. And ordered it with our coffees. A single slice of house-made passionfruit and blueberry cheesecake. No cream or ice cream, though. Baby steps. And then I ate it! right there in the cafe! And I enjoyed every single mouthful. Except the two or three Tony had. The real win is that I still don’t feel guilty for choosing to eat for the sheer pleasure of it.

I have a lot of work to do regarding the underlying reasons for my desire for control. And I have to find a new psychiatrist as mine has left, which sucks. But I’m definitely getting somewhere. It’s a new day, the sun will shine, maybe, and I’m infantile-ly poking my tongue out at her because:

Gloria is not me.

image

I don’t usually take photos of my food but I thought this was worth documenting.

 

Christmas

image.jpgI haven’t been able to write because my computer died. And I haven’t been able to put into words this part of my journey. It’s been really boring, too. Just a daily trudge through food and trying not to over exercise. Finding healthy balances.

This Christmas time has been so much brighter and cheerful than last year. I was able to help prepare holiday food without panicking – even able to physically touch fear foods without internal meltdowns. I could enjoy the other parts of Christmas – decorating, spending time with loved ones and family, gift giving and receiving, celebrating God’s love.

The biggest thing has been my ability to actually enjoy food. I hate that I still feel guilty when I admit that. Like I’m ‘fessing up to a seriously heinous crime. And that I deserve to be shunned and hated by all for admitting to such weakness. I mean, who could possibly like cherries so much that she eats FIVE in one sitting? FIVE! And look at that full plate of food. AND she ate it all. ALL!

I did it though. I even ate some Christmas trifle. I tried some of the cake. And they did taste good (shh, it’ll be our secret). But I think the best thing of all was being physically able to pitch in and help without collapsing exhausted and weak. My body is so much healthier now. It has strength and energy for living. My mind will catch up eventually.

I hope the year ahead for you and yours is full of good things. I dare to hope it is for me and mine, because

Gloria is not me.

Sore

It’s a year tomorrow since I began trying to chronicle this recovery journey. I had high hopes of being totally recovered by now. Hopes of being back on track with my life and living again. I haven’t been able to write lately as it’s been too hard. There are some things I cannot share.

How heavy my heart is now as I have to write about how I’ve been taken off my student teaching placement for the THIRD time. And I’ve been advised to accept a withdrawal Fail grade.

Why? I’m a healthy weight. I certainly don’t LOOK like I have an eating disorder. But my mind is still so easily tricked into restriction and over exertion. Teaching is hard work. Physically, mentally and emotionally. But I’m still running to Gloria’s arms when stressed. So I started skipping meals as I was ‘busy’, sticking to safe foods when I did eat, trying to move as much as possible. My reward? Collapsing in the staff room before school last week. My body going into a catatonic state so an ambulance is called. The paramedics telling the principal I must be having a nervous breakdown.

When I go into this state it is so frustrating. I am aware of everything around me and all that is said. But I cannot move or respond beyond a whimper. There is no medical explanation for this. I think my body just takes over and keeps me still while it can. I may be wrong. My vitals are always perfect and I was able to refuse going to hospital, though they did suggest taking me to the mental health unit.

So now I am not allowed to continue my placement. I tried to say I’d be alright if I just had a rest and took it a bit easier. But then I wouldn’t be meeting the expectations and I’d fail. So I’m trying to work out how to sort out uni and course structure from here.

I’m sticking to my latest meal plan. Resting. Sad.

Back to regular visits to my doctor and psychologist.

I will beat this. It’s taken so much from me and given nothing but pain in return. But I will be free.

Gloria is not me.

Dr Gloria’s ABC

This was a writing task set by my psychiatrist. In April. I finally finished it. You should probably read Dr Suess’s ABC if you haven’t already.

Big A little a, what begins with A?

Anorexia, angry, awful A A A

Big B little b, what begins with B?

Body, belly, backside, boobs B B B

Big C little c what begins with C?

Constantly counting calories, C C C

Big D little d, what begins with D?

Diet, denial, depression, D D D.

E E E E what begins with E?

Excessive exercise, extremes E E E

Big F little f what begins with F?

Food food food food fear fear fear.

Big G little g, what begins with G?

Ghost of who you used to be G G G

Big H little h what begins with H?

Hiding, hating, haunted, hungry H H H

Big I little i, I I I

I’ll be alright, I’ll be okay, lie, lie, lie

Big K little k, kitchen, kettle, kale

Kilograms you constantly have to check upon the scale

Big L little l, L L L

Lies and left last bites

Loss, loose skin and loneliness

Eyes without their lights

M M M what begins with M?

Many munching mouths

Are Making me feel anxious

Must find a quick way out.

Big N little n

What begin with those?

Controlling all my nervousness

By breathing through my nose

O is very useful

You use when you say

“Only organic oranges

Down my oesophagus today”

A B C D E F G

H I J K L M N O…

P!

People, people, please!

Perfection’s what I’m after

So just stop pestering me

Big Q little q

What begins with Q?

Quaking at the quantities

Of piles and piles of food

Big R little r

Restriction’s where it’s at

Remember to throw away the food

You hid inside your hat!

Big S little s

Skeletally slender you sigh

You’re shivering, shaking, scared and staking

Your life on a stupid lie

T T t t

Too tired to talk, too tired to walk

Too terrified to see

Big U little u, what begins with U?

Uncompromising, undernourished

This new and ‘improved’ you

Big V little v

Victorious over your needs

But the victory’s as hollow as the skin around your knees

W w W Wishing, wanting, weighing

But standing up too fast, it seems,

Just sets the world a-swaying

X is very useful as your list of foods grows small

Heck, just cross the lot off – you don’t need food at all

Big Y little y

You’ve aged before your time

You look half dead already but you tell yourself you’re fine

A B C D E F G

H I J K L M N O P

Q R S T U V

W X Y and…

Z!

Big Z little z what begins with Z?

I wish I could ZAP you better

But I can’t even ZAP me

We’ll just do the hard work together

So we can truly be free.

I’ll get there.

Gloria is not me.

letters

Running

I can’t believe how excited I am at being able, deemed medically fit (!), to go running again. RUNNING!

I have a rather long list of provisos and strict guidelines but this is something I have earned. Tony has asked me not to break his trust. He is concerned that Gloria will turn this into purging. And I get that. But he can also see how far I’ve managed to come lately.

Here are some wins to celebrate:

  • I chose hot chips for lunch the other day because I wanted to. I didn’t even have a mild panic about it. The day was cold and they were just what I felt like. I also had half a toasted sandwich with cheese. I. CHOSE. CHEESE. Cheese! I enjoyed my lunch with my man celebrating his success.
  • I can mix up the order in which I prepare food. And not feel like I’m losing control. Not even have to think twice about it.
  • Breakfast is not a big deal. It’s still always my muesli, but it’s no longer a huge struggle to get it in.
  • I am now at a very respectable and healthy weight. And I’m almost ok with it.
  • This winter I’m wearing a normal person’s amount of clothing.
  • We don’t have BLTs for dinner nearly as often. That makes me kind of sad because my BLTs are something special.
  • The divot under my sternum has filled in and I, Hannah, can see that as gained health and strength, not failure and weakness.
  • I have managed to reduce my caffeine intake by a heck of a lot.
  • RUNNING! Did I mention I’m going running later this morning?

Look at that list! I’ve run out of gold stars and places to put them because:

Gloria is not me.

Running-woman-550

Walking Through Treacle

I haven’t been able to write for a while. I haven’t been willing, or even able, to articulate how it’s all going. It’s not that it’s been extraordinarily bad or that I’ve relapsed or anything. It’s just been a daily slog of getting myself to eat, focusing on living. I’ve come to a part of this road that feels like I’m walking through waist-high treacle. It takes a lot of effort to make a whole lot of no progress.

I’m still easily triggered, which is frustrating. The other day making a coffee at uni I had the swoopy-standing-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff feeling because there was a bag of marshmallows on the counter. I still hate myself if I think I enjoy a food too much. My list of safe foods is very small again. I’m fighting every day the desire to lose. Just a couple, maybe four kilos. That’s not too much.

The new semester of uni has begun. I’m retaking the Science unit I failed last year. I’m starting to see how sick and detached I was this time last year – I really didn’t learn a thing. How could I when my only weekly goals were to be smaller, lighter, and more self-controlled. I could have got my Masters in those. I am so glad that now I can see that the certificate for graduating from Gloria’s course is a toe-tag.

This is the only thing that keeps me from totally giving in. I need to remind myself daily that there is no guarantee I’ll survive a relapse. I need to remind myself daily that she lies, she lies, she lies. I cannot truly live when I give in.

So I choose to truly live. I choose to truly say (one day):

Gloria is not me.

Ps message

(I love this girl)