Today

Today I’m choosing life. Again. Another attempt at recovery.

My name is Hannah. And I have an eating disorder. I want to add my story. I want my voice (my rational voice, that is) heard.

I call my ED voice/thought processes Gloria. I thought this was a good way to distance my rational self from those thoughts and ideas. She is an overbearing, hate-filled, perfectionist with not very much love for me. And I’m trapped here in the same head. If a person were to speak about me and to me as she does I could and would walk away. But I can’t. I’m in an abusive relationship with myself. And it’s time to end it.

Why now? Why have I chosen today? Well, today I was stopped by a friend who commented on her growing concerns for me as she saw me ‘wasting away’. Today, in the depths of relapse and restriction I received a message of love and concern from a total stranger who gave me the courage to fight once more. But if I hadn’t already been touched by my friend’s care, I don’t think I’d have been able to really hear and understand these words:

you have to fight so why not fight for something worth getting?

From the outside, my life is pretty sweet. I’m married, we have two beautiful and (I have to say it) clever kids, and I have friends and social connections by the bucket load – through my church, uni and my kids’ school. I’m studying to be a primary school teacher, a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. But I’ve got myself to a point where my ED behaviours are tearing all this to pieces around me. I’m standing naked, weeping and trying to catch sand in a tea-strainer as it all blows way. No more.

I have to fight. And I’m fighting for something worth getting.

Hannah.

Gloria is not me.

2014-10-04 17.12.15

A Day in My Head

Are you ready for this? (Gloria’s words in parentheses)

Wake up. (How much do you weigh today? I hope it’s less than yesterday. It had better be less than yesterday. Not good enough, Hannah)

Get up. Breakfast of muesli [my own special handmade concoction of all the right stuff] and plain probiotic yoghurt (Wait. Where’s my Bunnykins bowl? Where is it? WHAT? Tony’s hidden it so I can’t use it to control my portions? THE JERK! Can’t find it? Well, just use a ‘normal’ bowl then. That’s enough, Hannah, too much! How are you going to eat all that? Only FAT people eat that much, tsk!). Coffee and for some reason I’m allowed full cream milk. I did fight Gloria by eating all of my meagre portion of muesli. I do actually enjoy it, after all.

Bana- ? (no, you will not). Another coff- ? (Nope, don’t even think it – you know you’re going out for coffee later, just clean your teeth so you won’t want anything else)

(Pull your stomach in. Aaargh! You’re so lazy and fat! Did you see the flab on your legs as you were washing them? What are you gonna do about that? You better not eat nearly as much as you did yesterday. That was REAL stupid. How on earth can you be lighter if you eat? Yeah, you look ok from this angle but turn a bit… there! See that FAT? That’s all you are. How are you going to get rid of it? Cos it has to go. Don’t hold your arms like that, look at how pudgy they are. Yuck, I can’t look at you)

No, I’m sorry, that’s enough. And it’s only been about 30 minutes. And this is the cut down version. I know and you know that our thoughts are not linear like this but I just wanted to give you a general idea of the kind of dialogue I have going in my head.

I don’t know how to describe the physical feelings I have when I’m thinking about food. If you’ve never had an anxiety attack you might find this hard to understand. For me, I get breathless and my heart starts to race and I have that washy-tingly feeling over my arms and chest you get when you’ve just missed being hit by a car.

WHEN I THINK ABOUT HAVING TO EAT. Do you know how many times this happens every day?

When I give in to Gloria’s voice the feeling goes and I’m ok. She tells me not to eat, or think about eating whatever it is I’m looking at or thinking/hearing about. The only foods I don’t get this feeling over are my muesli and some dinners. I even get it looking at Woolworths and Coles catalogues. Walking past a shop where food is sold. People talking about food. Every. Single. Day.

So when you put Gloria’s voice on top of those physical feelings it kind of gets a bit overwhelming. And add the rest of my life – wife, mother, student, sister, daughter, friend, yeah, most of the time I’ve taken the easy road.

But the easy road only goes downhill. And it’s steep. And now it’s very lonely.

Time to find the hard road. I know it’s just as steep.

But it’s going up.

Gloria is not me.

2014-10-30 06.35.40

Stolen

Today I am trapped between my husband and Gloria. He is trying to get me to eat and to trust him, while Gloria screams in my head that if I do what he says I’ll be a fat nothing, a failure. I allowed him to serve my lunch today. And immediately hated him for the enormous portion he gave me. ALL of which he then sat and watched me eat.

Gloria tries to convince me that restriction is power, and weightloss is control. But despite excelling at these two things I am powerless and my life is out of my control.

I need to start really seeing what giving in has stolen from me.

Trust between my husband and myself is at an all-time low – I don’t trust him and he now knows he can’t trust me about food and exercise.

My dream. I was a distinction student in my education course. Til Gloria came along. In my last session I failed two units. I had to defer my professional experience halfway through because I was too weak to continue without failing.

My peace. ‘Nuff said.

My self-worth. Constantly hearing yourself be unkind to you wears you down and you really do believe it. I am a fat slutty no-good waste who really should be smaller. And have more self-discipline.

My energy. As much as Gloria tries to play it down and even bald-face deny it, I am so weak at times I’m like an old woman. But apparently it is strength to deny myself the energy I need.

My femininity. My body is a plank. I think I had bigger boobs when I was eleven. I haven’t had a period for months. Gloria says that’s a great thing as they were always such a hassle anyway. But what about the long term health implications?

My wedding ring. I can’t wear it anymore. It’s too big. I wear it on a chain around my left wrist. It doesn’t quite feel the same.

My running. Oh, how I miss running. I’m too weak now to run. Even walking is often too much.

My kids’ peace. Our son asks all too often if Mummy is going to die. Our daughter asked me to please not ‘wither away’ to a skeleton.

Meals with friends. I won’t eat what I haven’t prepared myself, and I find eating with others too stressful.

Looking at this list you’re probably asking ‘Why? Why can’t you see and just do what you need to do to get yourself better?’ But that’s rational. And most of the time I am not. Gloria really knows me. And all my weak spots. And how to fight dirty. It is constant. It hurts. And I just get so tired.

Writing this has shown me what I am fighting for, what I want to win back in my life. Hannah’s rights, privileges and responsibilities. I’m fighting for more than just an existence.

Gloria IS not me.

2014-11-01 17.05.22

Gold Stars

I, Hannah, have had some wins today. And I’m giving myself gold stars. Literally.

Today I chose to pack a snack because I knew I wouldn’t be home in time. And I knew Tony would not be with me to tell me to eat. And I actually ate it. Not only did I eat it, I ate it in the company of a friend I don’t see often (enough), in the midst of a crowd of strangers in a café. I was in the middle of the café – not hidden in a booth. EATING.

Gold star!

I, Hannah, made the choice to eat an afternoon snack, too. An apple. Like an apple. That is, I did not cut it up into bite sized pieces first. I ate straight from the fruit like a normal, grown up human being.

Gold star!

Some people do like to go on about how we should rely on intrinsic motivation to get people to behave the way they should. Unfortunately, the reward centre of my brain is malfunctioning and my intrinsic motivation is to starve myself to death. So I think a little extrinsic gold star motivation could be just what I need.

I need some suggestions as to what reward I could encourage myself with when I trade in my amassed gold star haul. That’s the reward system at my kids’ school – good work/deeds get a spot, 10 spots earn a pink award, 3 pinks get a green etc til you can by the end of primary school have possibly (by licking an awful lot of boots) earned enough spots for a gold medallion.

So, what should my 50 star upgrade be?

Gloria is quietly fuming about this, but, hey, Gloria is NOT me.

2goldstars

Denial

Today Gloria has swung around and is trying to tell me I don’t have a problem. Everyone else is wrong. I don’t have a problem with food and eating. I’m not that thin, really. And those other health things, well I can survive, and it won’t get any worse.

True, I don’t have a problem with food and eating, until I have to do it. That is, think about either or both. Kind of unravels there.

So according to Gloria absolutely everyone in my life is wrong. My doctor, my psychologist, nutritionist, husband, sisters, friends, parents and even my children are all experiencing the same group hallucination. Weird, that.

Today I am ridiculously tired. I had a lot of stuff to do yesterday and today I’m paying for it. But according to Gloria, I’m not hurting myself with this non problem that everyone else thinks I have. That menstruation thing? Pfff! Just think of that as some weird bonus and don’t forget to say thank you Gloria.

I have to be real here. I have to look at what’s going on. I have to be determined to fight this lie just as much as I am to fight the loud and more obvious ones. If I believe this lie (again) how much longer will the road out of this place be?

I know there are no shortcuts out. But there are so many crossroads to negotiate and wrong turns that will keep me here. Some days I won’t be able to recognise the right way to go. I hope today I have and that I’m strong enough to keep to it.

So. Nice try. But no takers today.

Gloria is not me.

hannh selfie

Denial P.S.

So. My body showed you, hey Gloria. Could you just give me a break, please?

Here I am today, even more tired than yesterday. On Tony’s orders to stay in bed except for trips to the toilet. And still that voice warns of consequences of eating. Prompts me to restrict.  Tells me to exercise. Hates my body for being a traitor to her ideals.

I am so weak. I had to sit down in the shower. And fell asleep as soon as I was dry and dressed. Everything takes so much more effort, and exhausts me so quickly. And I have done it to myself by believing I’m not causing any harm.

I thought I was doing ok. I had increased my food intake. I didn’t slow down though. My busy day on Wednesday was too much after a busy day on Tuesday.

I don’t really want to write about what happened. But I promised the good and the bad.

I knew I was getting really tired and that I needed to eat (huge step forward for me) so I popped into the supermarket after picking the kids up from school. I had a craving for chips (!) and thought I’d stick it to Gloria and get some. But I got to that aisle in Woolworths and just ran out of steam. I couldn’t walk any more. I was holding on to the shelves falling asleep, when a lady stopped and asked if I was alright. To which I shook my head. She offered to get me a chair and I nodded. I sat down and then my body just shut down, except for my head. I couldn’t move. (This has happened twice before. And each time I said it wouldn’t happen again.) I had left the kids in the car (yes, yes, I know, but they’re nine and seven and I don’t breed idiots) so this lovely lady went and got them for me. But I had left my phone at home and do you think I could remember Tony’s number? Good thing my sister has had the same number for 10 years and I could remember that. And she just happened to be two streets away and arrived very soon. I had refused the staff’s offer of calling an ambulance. Tony’s done that once before. And I knew I just needed rehydration and rest. My sister carried me out to her car, kids following, and drove me home. Where Tony had to carry me in to bed. Where I slowly woke up. One side and limb at a time.

I want to thank Martina for her help. I want to thank my sister, Laura, and apologise for it happening again. And thank you Tony. I’m so sorry. I can see what this does to you. You are so good. I do want to fight this. I love you. And Phoebe and Tim, you seriously are the best kids a mum could ask for. You guys show me that somewhere I must have got something right, and I have to keep fighting so I can be the wife and mother you deserve. So that I can be Hannah. Fulfilled and free. As God made me.

Gloria is not me.

2014-09-24 06.33.32

Hard Day

I. Hate. This.

Keep making some really poor choices. Like hiding half my dinner scrunched up in scrap paper IN MY SOCK DRAWER. Freaking out over two pieces of peanut butter on toast. Just because of a comment Tony made about the way I eat – tearing everything into tiny pieces. Because you know only FAT people would take a bite out of a whole piece of toast.

I am panicking over Tony cooking dinner tonight. Most women would be in heaven, loving not having to cook. Especially as it’s Saturday, and Saturday is pizza day in the Colley house. Made from scratch pizza that is. And I’m panicking over not being in control of what I am given. I don’t trust Tony. He’ll give me too much.

I have two gold stars on my hand today. So that’s something? I hate them. They scream failure at half of me. I want to tear them off and quit. Just give in. No harm in that, surely. I gave it a good go.

No! It is not failure to nourish my body and give it what it needs. And there is a hell of a lot harm in quitting.

This sucks. Today it is really hard to remember that:

Gloria is not me.

bird_cage_by_hellobird