How do you keep going when winning feels like losing? Gloria screams ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO!!’ when I can get myself to eat. She makes me so anxious about and around food I have collapsed trying to choose an avocado. I collapsed because WALKING PAST a fruit and veg shop was too much. Two more ambulance rides. I now have to do meditative breathing exercises just so I can go to the shops. Just because she can make me faint rather than choose food. She made me feel a congratulatory pat on the shoulder (for gaining) was more like a slap in the face, so much that I actually flinched as if it were.
Cheese was a huge deal again today. I just want the cheese to stop. So. Much. Cheese.
When will this end? When will winning actually be a victory? When will giving in to Gloria feel like losing? I tried the gold stars again. But according to Gloria I’m such a whining, stupid, pathetic sub-par excrescence I have no right to believe in myself. And there is definitely no point in trying to encourage myself.
I’m not fishing for compliments. I am fighting this with as much as I have in me. I am trying to just trust that it will get better. Trying to explain just why and how it is so difficult to ‘just eat something’. I have been sticking to the plan (mostly), even through all this. Tony has helped a lot. So has this song.
One day, food will be energy, not the enemy. One day, I will no longer believe her. One day, when I can say:
Gloria is not me.
Ok. I fell down. I stayed on my face in the mud for a bit, totally discouraged. I didn’t want to get up. It’s humiliating. I was running and winning and dancing but I tripped over.
It’s ok. Get back up. Choose to eat for health and energy. Choose to rest. But keep on going.
The only one in this race is me. I can only lose if I give up.
Oh, it’s frustrating and discouraging. Embarrassing sure.
But I will remember that God is the lifter of my head. He is the keeper of my soul. He loves me. As I am and for all I am. He knows my weakness and promises His strength. I will trust in that.
I read this Psalm and it was just what I needed to be reminded about:
Is anyone crying for help? God is listening ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. -Psalm 34 17&18
So. I’m catching my breath. I’m wiping the muck off my face. It’s ok. I fell down. But I’m getting back up.
I can do this.
I CAN do this.
Not only can I do this, I will. Got my fight back. So watch out:
Gloria is not me.
The last few weeks have been a little bit nightmare-ish. I have now lost almost complete control over my life. Tony is on orders to be in control of all meals. With instructions to phone in if I refuse to finish anything. I am so not okay with that. I’m even less okay with the whole absolutely no exercise thing. Tony even stops me fidgeting.
I’ve just had five whole days rigidly sticking to the meal plan. My longest stretch ever. And it still feels like such a pain in the neck. So much food. Coming at me all @#*#-ing day. I have to admit that I can’t wait to be able to eat what I want, when I want it. But right now that’s just nothing and never.
Tony says he can see more of me, Hannah, as I continue to eat. Gloria hates that, uses all her tricks to make me feel weak and useless and more in hate with myself. But Tony has stopped arguing with Gloria. He plainly tells her to go away, he wants to talk to Hannah. At least he can get away from her voice.
I want to be rid of Gloria, to be truly Hannah. But I’m so overwhelmed by the effort it takes, and will continue to take. I’m even doubtful the effort is worth it. I am so lacking in any motivation these days. My bedside is a morass of tangled wool with half-finished craft projects. I am yet to enroll in uni for the year. The house is chaos. I think we’ve all run out of undies. And this is the first post I’ve written in weeks, that I might actually finish and publish.
So here I go. Today #3. Choosing life, because:
Gloria is not me. (That was the first time I actually faltered while typing that, right now it’s just not true)
I’ve been in denial again. Trying to tell Tony I’m all better now. Weight is high enough now please. My body is recovering nicely; I have some more energy, I can wear my wedding ring again, I don’t need as much sleep now and, er, it’s all systems go in the girl department.
But I know, and Tony knows, that given the chance I would restrict and exercise to lose all this weight as fast as I could. I feel so uncomfortable in here. I cannot see the weight gain as healthy or desirable.
Yesterday talking with my psychiatrist, I was able to recall my dreams regarding my education degree and future academic career, and I was Hannah again. With ambitions and opinions and a knowledge of the paths to achieve and validate them. Fully aware of all I’ve been blessed with, and all I can and have offered of myself. All of which has been buried as I cave in to Gloria. As soon as he mentioned my weight, asking me how I felt about it, my world shrank again. I was just a woman with an eating disorder. With one goal – to pull my body in after me as I implode.
Because I listened to Gloria, I did not accept my university’s offer of a place in the Embedded Honours Program. I don’t know if I can explain why. I don’t know if I know myself. I think it’s because I felt I didn’t really deserve it, and to make me worthy I had to gain control over myself. Completely. But instead of giving more in life, this has gradually eroded just about everything of worth to me. Even myself. Physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
So feeling and being Hannah yesterday, even for such a short time, makes me determined to beat this. To be one of the positive statistics. To ignore Gloria’s warnings. To trust Tony and the rest of the care team. To choose health and life.
Here’s how I won today: today I ate from the whole piece of toast. I did not even once tear it into smaller pieces. Today I ate an uncut sandwich, like some sort of grown up. I didn’t realise how long it had been since I made a mess on my face as I ate. I’m out of practice eating salad sandwiches, apparently. I ignored her warnings because:
Gloria is not me.
I am doing this. I mean, I am really doing this. I am making some good choices, finally.
Feels bizarre. I can suddenly think more clearly. Who knew the brain really does need energy. Gloria sure didn’t get that bit right.
I am sleeping a lot. Like nine or ten hours at night and a nap in the afternoon. I’m starting to see how badly I’ve been treating my poor little body. It needs to repair.
I am feeling brighter. I can see beyond this painful now. Before, that’s all there was. I can appreciate what’s around me. See what’s around me. Love the people around me. I’ve been blinkered and numb for so long.
I still have to fight. Still have the urge to restrict and purge. Tim is having a really difficult time with all this rain and the storms. My first thought is to stop eating and start running so I’ll be able to fix it. Not sure of the logic of it, but oooh, it’s strong. I have fought it today. I am eating my afternoon snack, which includes milk, one of my big no-nos. Gold star!
I am fighting the voice that hates this weight gain. Gloria re-heally hates it. She is great at convincing me I am too big already, I feel too big, I see that I’m too big. But you know what? If I don’t look in the mirror, it’s easier to be rational, to rely on the evidence that can be verified. Like my weight is at the low end of healthy, and my clothes still fit. Can’t be too big if those things are true.
I was so close to giving up this week. But I managed to keep going, trusting that it will get better. I’m so glad I did. I’m choosing my own adventure, and I avoided the poison spring this time. I’ve started reading the first few sentences of the possible choices so I can make the right one. Gloria isn’t aware that such a life-hack exists.
I will beat this.
Gloria is not me.
This was my favourite Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book when I was growing up. Did you have one?
There’s an African proverb that says ‘it’s only by climbing hills that we gain strength’. This past week has been the steepest part of my hill. I am so glad I had support to help me step by step and meal by meal. I know I wouldn’t be further up if I were alone. I am stronger. I know there’s still more hill to come, there might even be yet steeper places. But now it’s time to look how far I’ve come. Celebrate every hard won little victory. Remind myself of what I have faced.
I have come from days of eating nothing or as close as I could get to it, pushing myself so hard to be smaller there were times I thought I seriously and literally wouldn’t make it up the hill, to here – where I am able to nourish my body six times a day. And last night, I enjoyed dinner so much that I HAD SECONDS. GASP!
For the first time I, Hannah, feel that recovery is possible, achievable and, wait for it, desirable. DOUBLE GASP!
So thankful that God does keep His promises. So thankful for the people He has around me. Especially Tony, of course, and Phoebe and Tim. With their help, along with our health team Jeremy, Sara, Russell and Lisa, my sister Laura and all my church family particularly Andrew, Kylie, Michelle, Gary, Robyn and Elisabeth, I am here. And thank you to everyone who has sent me encouraging messages to support me. Looking up to the day when:
Gloria is not me.
50! That’s FIFTY!
I done-did it!
I can’t wait to cash these in.
I am really struggling. The anxiety and guilt and the white noise are constant.
Yesterday was an especially difficult day. Slept in and didn’t pray and pledge before I got up. Skipped my morning snack altogether. Tried to hide my cheese at lunch. I won’t tell you where I put it, but Tony caught me. Gloria has a real problem with cheese. And trail mix.
Yesterday, I was in a dark place again. I mean I really wanted to hurt myself. Simply because I do NOT want to eat any more. I am sick of having to fight every second of every day with this voice. And having to deal with the self-condemnation when I do fight back and eat.
But you know what? I am still fighting. Somewhere I know that eventually I will win as long as I don’t give up. I don’t get to have a day off. It doesn’t work that way.
And Gloria isn’t like some sitcom bully. She doesn’t run off scared because I stand up to her. The more I fight, the louder, more insistent, ugly and frightening she becomes. I’ve been promised that as I keep resisting and feeding my starving body and brain the voice and impulses will lessen. I just wish it would come soon. I just wish I weren’t so terrified of the medicine. I just wish that I could help people understand what it’s really like in here. Knowing that food is the answer and also just as completely sure that if you eat it you will be an utter failure as a human being, for losing control. That to admit to such ‘supreme weakness’ (ie needing food to live) you are pathetic beyond belief. The self-disgust at eating, the loathing of fat on one’s body, the goal of ‘just one more kilo’ to perfection and self-satisfaction that never comes. The very irrational desire to be free of this fat and flesh cage, and to cause as much damage as possible on the way out.
I am safe at the moment. Again. Tony has been amazing through all this. He helps me to fight. He knows that:
Gloria is not me.