More in Me Than This

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.

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Here Again?!

I’ve fallen down again.

I bought into the whispered lies. Gloria knows me well. So when the shouting stopped working the campaign shifted to a softer one. It seemed rational and definitely aligned with my own ideas and before I knew I was restricting and exercising again. I HAD to regain the control I’d lost. I’d gained too much and so quickly.

I’ve been back to my dietitian. Had to ‘fess up to dodging the meal plan as often as I could, especially these last five days. I hate this because of how much I’ve gained when I haven’t even followed the plan properly. Gloria tells my body is such a traitor. And I hate it. I hate being in here. Stuck with this voice.

This voice tells me Tony and the health team do not want what’s best for me. They just want me fat. They want me to lose control. And that is something I cannot do. I MUST not do.

I look back at last week and I was doing pretty great. Now I feel shame at trying to leave this place without having accomplished all I was led to believe would make me a better person.

I am trying to see that having such a strong support network is a good thing. Without it I would be totally lost. Gloria wants to run away so I only have her voice to listen to.

Hannah doesn’t have a voice at the moment. So thank God that people around me do. I will try to hear them over Gloria. Listen and trust them, not her. They know:

Gloria is not me.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

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.

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This was my favourite Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book when I was growing up. Did you have one?

I Can Do This

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.

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50!  That’s FIFTY!

I done-did it!

I can’t wait to cash these in.

Every Time I Hit Rock Bottom, Gloria Manages to Find Something With Which to Dig.

Sooooo. I don’t even know where to begin. Been a rough few days. Wednesday just gone was the worst day yet. Hopefully that’s the worst day all done now.

I don’t really want to go over it but that’s what this blog is all about. I want people to know how hard this is.

Better go back to Tuesday. Saw the new dietician. Who gave us a structured meal plan on the spot. She listened to me about what I can and can’t/won’t eat. That was good. She was yet another health professional who vetoed exercise. That was not so good. And on paper, the plan didn’t look too bad.

Come breakfast Wednesday, first day of the rest of my life. I measured the required amount of muesli into my bowl. And immediately put 1/3 of it back in the box. It was a crazy amount of food. Seriously. I didn’t even bother to measure the yoghurt.

The day went downhill from there. Do you want to know how long I can shout and argue about cheese? I’m not normally a loud person but I managed a good half an hour of irrationality. Again I thought it was too much (it was literally 15 grams of cheese). I was actually putting my shoes on to run out of the house and just keep running. We can laugh about cheesegate now, but at the time it was anything but funny. And it was only the second meal of the day. Not even 11am.

I managed lunch like a sulky kid. Go me.

It was afternoon tea that tipped me over the edge. ¼ cup of trail mix and ½ cup of yoghurt. TOO MUCH AGAIN. I had some of it but was overwhelmed by Gloria. I had to get out, escape from the food, be the one in control. I got down to the front door, where Tony caught and held me so I couldn’t move. He just whispered in my ear ‘please don’t do this to them, please don’t do this to us’. I was able to be rational enough to climb the stairs. I was able to fight enough to eat what Tony had served to me. ALL of it. Then, I don’t really know what was going through my mind, guilt over having the kids witness all this, extreme anxiety over the amount of food I was suddenly expected to eat and was being forced into me, and suddenly I was wanting to really hurt myself. I thought it would be better to die than to eat and fail. I thought it would be better if I was gone from my family so they wouldn’t have to see me do this anymore. Tony found me curled in a ball under the quilt on our bed. I remember showing him my arms and saying ‘I know exactly where to cut’. Something that stopped me was thinking about how big and hard a mess Tony and the kids would have to clean up if I managed to do it in the bedroom. I would have to go to the bathroom. But Tony was holding me. And he just held me until I was calm.

I felt so unsafe. But I think it did shift something inside me to see how Gloria keeps me anything but safe. If that could be an answer to a tiny thing like eating, what would a bigger problem prompt? I already know the answer to that: starve myself, restrict to the point of self-harm, slow suicide.

Spoiler: I’m not feeling like that now, and I haven’t since. Tony and I talked. I promised I would try again tomorrow. And now in the morning before the day begins, while we are still in bed, I pray for strength for the coming day and Tony asks me to pledge that I will follow the meal plan, I will not restrict, purge or exercise and I will not say it is too much.

So yesterday, I earned six gold stars. Six! That’s the best ever! I have not had a day of eating so much since, I think, just after Christmas last year. I still have to fight the anxiety. I still panic about the amount of food I have to eat. And I am really freaking out over not being able to exercise. But I am now half way to my 50 star goal.

And a little closer to the day when:

Gloria is not me.

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A Few of My Favourite Things (sing along)

Coffee and family

My fishies and singing

Creating unique crafted

Items and winning

Putting a smile on a face in the crowd

Laughing and daring to dream out aloud

Clean living rooms on

A Saturday morning

Hiking on mountains

Watching new days dawning

Being a member of God’s family

Midsomer Murders reruns on TV

When the white noise

And the self-hate

Seem too hard to bear

I’ll try to remember some favourite things

Like those I’ve listed

Up there

Trying to focus on all life has to offer today.

What are some of your favourite things?

Notice that I didn’t put restricting and controlling because

Gloria is not me.

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Today #2

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

Two lies have hindered this journey: the first being that one day I’ll wake up and I’ll finally be ‘done’ – I’ll have earned Gloria’s approval. The second is that choosing recovery will be straightforward and easy. Like I just have to actually choose and that will flip a switch and it will all be gone, done, finished and I’ll be fine.

How do I combat my own thoughts and unrealistic expectations of myself? I, Hannah, know the standards to which Gloria holds me are unachievable and downright unhealthy. ‘Perfection’ in the body I have will never happen. I’m short, with short legs, a high flat bust and wide shoulders. I am ok with that. That’s me. Gloria isn’t trying to attain a magazine image, even she’s not that irrational. The aim is to be as small as possible – to be able to curl up into the tiniest ball and hide away. To be strong and invincible and the way to do that is restriction and extreme control. But I will never be small enough. I think the ultimate goal is complete implosion.

The other lie is harder to explain and fight against. The feeling of being safe as I engage in these behaviours is so strong. The peace and calm I feel when I don’t eat is bliss. The lie I cling to is that if I choose to stop all this then chaos will suddenly pour down and it will be all my fault for walking away. But I have little glimpses of what life could be like without this. Enough to see that this is not achieving any of the peace I truly want. I already have so many positives in my life that will be lost if I continue this way. Choosing them over Gloria should be the easiest thing to do, but it’s not. And every time I choose recovery, I seem to forget that it’s not a straight, easy road. I’ve said it before – I can’t just walk away from this voice.

But I can choose to fight it. And I am.

Gloria is not me.

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