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)
Christmas with Gloria has not been the most peaceful or joyous of times. I had thought I would handle it much better than I have. Not once have I been able to relax about food. Or even treat myself with something not on my nice list. Did you know you can have Christmas without those wafer stick things? Part of me feels cheated, but most of me feels triumphant. I am the BEST at self control.
On Christmas morning I was already fairly triggered and anxious about the coming day. I still haven’t come to terms with the weight gain. This is what sent me over the edge: I couldn’t find an ACCEPTABLY SMALL COMMUNION BISCUIT during the church service. But I also couldn’t bring myself to break the one I chose into an acceptably small size as I thought it was a bit petty. I can still feel that biscuit in my mouth. And I have not been able to eat with anything resembling normality and rationality since.
This is how fragile my grip on recovery is. Ridiculous things, tiny, insignificant moments are enough to send me hurtling back downhill. Like the sudden whiff from a hand cream can send you back in time to your Grandma’s garden – or the unwashed bus upholstery smell can send you back to high school – in an instant. Last time it was because my undies felt too tight. Another time it was because I thought I noticed someone noticing the tightness of my jeans.
I didn’t realise how far I’d relapsed until tonight when I walked to the shops in the pouring rain to buy yoghurt for muesli in the morning. A rational person would just be ‘oh, no yoghurt? I’ll have milk, or something else, no probs’. I’m all ‘No yoghurt? NO YOGHURT?! I can’t eat breakfast then. In fact I can’t eat anything. Ever again.’ I went to three shops to find the yoghurt. And couldn’t buy any as they were either shut or there’s a supply issue. And then because I couldn’t get yoghurt, I can’t give myself permission to eat. Not even fruit. I hate myself for the food I’ve already eaten today. Gloria is in my ear telling me that my body deserves everything I’ve put it through. And I believe her.
I am so glad Christmas is so much more than food and getting presents. Because this year I didn’t really get to have that side of the season. I have so enjoyed celebrating the love that sent Jesus for us. I have been able to sing my heart out and be thankful that He came for the broken and the sick. Especially ‘cause right now I am both those things. One day we’ll have a laugh together about that biscuit thing. One day, when:
Gloria is not me.
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’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.
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.