But it's the mind that's the worst, here. It skips ahead of you and paints such pretty pictures, of you falling through the endless nothingness of the sky's infinity, the scream being ripped from your lungs and the cold air hissing violently through your ears. Imagined catastrophes wrap themselves around your mind's eye, so that you're unable to see anything else. Images of you falling through space and breaking your body upon the awaiting rocks below; of you, just falling and falling forever, with nothing to hold on to save the memory of what it once was like to be upon solid, firm ground.
And so, with these images having anchored themselves like heavy rocks upon the seabed, you suddenly declare to yourself you can't do it. After all your plans, all your preparations, all your courage mustering; all your best intentions. Now all of those just lie in a useless heap upon the floor, reminding you of what you see as your failure.
But I cannot do it.
I can't overcome the fear.
But, I ask you now, is it the thoughts of the fall or the actual step which bites into you the most?
I'm telling you now, it's the actual step.
There's enough strength in each and every one of us to achieve anything in this life that we set our hearts to.
It's just the fear that stands in our way. The fear and the doubt.
But doubt and fear killed more dreams than failure ever did.
Thoughts and doubts can kill. My story is living proof of that. I look back now to when it all began. It wasn't any external factors that caused me to move onto that distorted, polluted road which was Ed's; a road full of poison and damp soaking holes, a road which slowly caused my body to break up just that one bit more with every single hateful, yet irresistible step. No. It wasn't any living person, any physical thing that caused me to become ill with anorexia. Rather it was the Fear, and the Doubt, and the Thoughts. The Thoughts that ED implanted within me, and forced me to nurture. Thoughts that I wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't cool enough, wasn't skinny enough. The thoughts that in order for me to have the slightest chance of making friends and losing some of my inherent ugliness, I needed to lose weight.
Later, the thoughts were of similar lines, and equally just as deadly. Thoughts that I deserved to die and that starving was the best course of action to achieve it. Thoughts that to gain weight, I would be repulsive; and the world would reject me. And many of these still linger with me now. Deeply ingrained beliefs, as obstinate and unmoving as the most deepset, heaviest boulders of sheer granite rock.
I cannot, this time, let the doubt and the fear take any more of my life away from me, for any longer.
I've already lost alot of years to my eating disorder, through the fears and doubts Ed created within my fragile, vulnerable mind.
Now is the time for me to fight back.
Now it's about recognising that those deeply ingrained beliefs which I mentioned above are not so deeply ingrained that I do not have the strength to budge them. To push them away and set myself free. To take that step out of the plane into the Unknown. The Unknown which is true recovery.
Yesterday morning I took one such single, tiny step, one which to many might seem trivial and irrelevant, but for me resembled something more of a triumph. For a good while now I have reverted to being fixated on having 100 ml max of milk with cereals in the morning. But today, on approaching the fridge to take out the bottle. I wondered. I wondered if I could make it more. Whether I dared to push aside the fear and pour that bit extra in the jug.
No, screamed the Voice. No! It'll fill you up too much! Because if you have more milk you'll have more cereals, and you'll blow up like a balloon! You won't be able to have as much later on! Don't you dare, girl! Don't you dare! 90 mls in that jug, that's ALL! Don't you dare!
I won't, I answered, timidly, but then stopped, pausing, thinking of the last post I had wrote.
And that's when I realised..
It's only a fear. A stupid, irrational fear.
What need I fear of just a bit extra milk???
Milk is good for me, right? I have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis = my bones need all the calcium I can get. Ditto.
And before I could ponder it for any longer I had seized the bottle and poured it out and added the cereal and then....
then I ate.
A tiny victory, but at the same time, it felt good. It felt good to be a victor for a change. Becuase for a while now it seems ED has been smirking an awful, awful lot, at my apparent inability to increase my meal plan that wee bit more.
But I know I can't just stop here, now. I need to do a bit more than that. The "milk victory" felt good but that's not where this thing is going to end. There's alot more I know I need to do here.
If I really want to gain this weight...no, let's pause and rephrase that.
If I really want to be healthy. To get my periods back. To silence the Voice once and for all. To give my bones the best possible chance to be as healthy as osteoporotic bones have the capacity to be.
I dug deep inside myself, searching for answers, the iron hard truths, the impermeable facts that neither time or force can change. Why? Why am I really afraid of being a higher bmi? It's not a case of physically not being able for it, after all. I've put myself through the gaining weight process a number of times. True, not with a target of this higher bmi(s) in mind, but it was still very much an intensely difficult, grueling process which takes an exhausting toll on both the body and mind.
I'm afraid to gain and reach this bmi because...
- I'm afraid of what my body will be like. I am afraid that I will hate it. I feel ugly now at this current weight and I am convinced that, at an even higher one, I will feel completely repulsive and vile.
- I'm afraid that then, people will see me as completely "recovered" (if they do not do already) and assume I no longer need any help and support to beat Ed.
- I'm afraid that, if I increase my meal plan again, I won't be able to stop eating 4000 + calories on having reached the target weight, and will just keep on gaining and gaining.
- I'm afraid, yes, of facing the physical and mental unpleasantries of gaining weight good and proper again. The screaming anxiety, the horrendous bloating, the constant declarations of "you are fat, Em" resounding through my head.
There are more, I know; but those are the main ones.
So now I have to gather my own weapons; prepare myself for ferocious war, once again. War with Ed. I'll retaliate his list of no you can'ts with a list of my own. Oh yes I f***ing can, Ed.
I'm currently reading Life without Ed by Jenni Schaefer. One of the most crucial aspects to recovery from anorexia that Jenni identifies is distinguishing and constructing your own voice, separate from Ed's.
So here is my own voice. Speaking loud and clear, now.
I need to gain this final bit of weight....because...
- Wake up, Em, and face the reality here. You have serious osteoporosis. And you know all too well that your period ain't gonna come at this weight. No good drifting on and pretending it's all ok, because it's not. You may not have taken your consultant's advice back then. But take it, now. And stop closing your eyes to the truth.
- By gaining this final bit of weight I will be able to fully restore my health. All those other parts of the body damaged from over a decade of anorexia. My nails and skin and internal organs; my concentration, my memory. You might not be able to see the internal damage, Em, but you know all too well that it's there.
- I won't feel so tired and listless and lifeless all the time. Gaining these final few kilos will give me the energy to laugh and smile again, to live.
- And last but not least. It will be in my best interests to get my weight up for my new job in February. It's by no means an office job or anything like that, by the way - it's quite a physical job in which I will be on my feet alot of the time. I'm not saying I'm an unfit person, but I'm not exactly what you would describe strong and vigorous, either. But, to get my weight up beforehand, will mean I can work at my very best, physically and mentally.
So now I have some new goals, new priorities. Which I am going to fix right in my head, now. Time to step up to the plane door, take one deep long breath, and step out.
That terrifying step...
But one I need to take to save myself.
Because one day this plane I'm riding will crash, and burn; with me, along with it.
Time to go, Ed.
Time to go.
I'm gonna take this jump and you're not coming with me. This time, you stay behind, old friend.
This is my own step, which I alone can take; for myself.
For me and for my life, and for all that recovery stands for.💗
Yesterday I finally plucked up the courage to approach Mam and ask her for help. I told her everything: my current struggles with Ed, my aspirations to try and gain a little more weight and my fears around having to do so, and my difficulty in dealing with people's comments as regards my current shape and weight.
Mam listened as I knew deep down she would. And it felt, right then, that the enormity of taking that huge, overwhelming step had lessened.
I know Mam can't take this big step for me. But to know she is there - ready to give me that gentle, yet firm push forwards whenever I can feel myself faltering - has given me so much comfort and has made me feel both safer and braver. Now I'm ready to jump without once looking back. My courage roars defiance in my breast like a lion facing the retreating hunter with his net. Oh yes, ED. I'm ready, now. I'll be your captive for no longer.
Thank you also - SO much - for everyone who has commented and wished me well over the past few weeks. Your words mean so so much. I am honoured and humbled by your sincerity and thoughtfulness. Thank you 💗