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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TBH

Today I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist. More blood tests, referral to a new dietician, medications increased (yes, depression is an issue, too) and back to weekly visits to my GP.

Still torn between wanting recovery and dreading gaining weight. Gaining weight means I’m losing control. Losing control means losing everything. Or so Gloria tries to tell me.

Still in denial. Still refusing to accept what’s in my face and what I am doing to myself and the ones I love. Today is one of the days I just want to go somewhere dark and quiet and sleep til this problem goes away.

I have noticed that life doesn’t ever work that way. The only way to get rid of this is to stand up and face it. Fight. And when I fall down I have to get back up, face it and fight again. But I am just so tired.

Today it is hard to believe that there will be a time when:

Gloria is not me.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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