Get put in prison
Not have any clean clothes/cash/house keys so I can’t leave the house & buy food
Join the armed forces (maybe something in a submarine, so food must be rationed)
Quit my job so I wouldn’t have to have mealtimes at work
Eat mould & food out of the bin to give myself food poisoning (tried this often, never actually made me sick, much to my annoyance)
Run away & live on the streets (actually attempted this one, lasted one day)
Take sleeping tablets in the daytime (left me rather messed up this one)
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to explain to someone without an eating disorder why I can’t ‘just eat!’ It’s like being asked to put my hand in a flame. Yes, there’s nothing actually physically preventing me from reaching my arm forward into the fire. But would you? Even if everyone around you is shouting ‘go on! I put my hands in the flame all the time! It’s fine!’ your own voice is shouting back ‘but I can’t! It’ll burn! I know it will!’. Every instinct in your body just knows that you shouldn’t. It’s the same, wordless knowledge that tells you to put a coat on when it’s cold, laugh at a funny joke, or go to sleep when you’re tired.
That’s why it’s just so hard.
I am a girl of 2 faces.
One likes cute cat videos on Facebook, rings her mum in a rush ‘on the way to work’, laughs at the jokes of the guys on the till in the shop, does her laundry, is at a ‘healthy weight’.
The other reads about bridge-jumpers online, checks the calendar for what shift she’s apparently on (she’s been on medical leave for 4 months now) & times her phone calls to match, is in her 5th shop of the day so no one sees how much binge food she’s buying, has piles of receipts & unopened post & medical reports & food wrappers & empty pill boxes scattered all over her bedroom floor, lost 2 stone in 3 months & gained back 3 stone in 2.
I often think I’m rubbish at having an eating disorder. How many times do media articles on EDs feature plates of lettuce? How often are the words ‘diet’ ‘weight loss’ & photos of sufficiently ‘thin’ people accompanied by a cutesy Instagram-filtered pot of carrot batons? Pretty consistently throughout both my anorexia & bulimia vegetables have terrified me. Honestly, a pre-sliced square of cheese is easier for me than a stick of celery. I like the uniformity. Factory-made & processed. Knowing exactly what I’m getting from the nutritional information label. Already portioned, so no mistakes. Neat shapes – squares & rectangles are best. Who can deal with a cauliflower!?! Or the bright colours & mixture of tastes & textures of a salad?!
Today for the first time in months I braved levelling up my plain cheese sandwich on white bread to a falafel wrap. And survived. The voice is going crazy. It is not impressed. & I should DEFINITELY BE PUNISHED. Apparently. Normally I would. Maybe today I won’t. Or maybe I’ll make it through an hour before cutting or vomiting or making grand plans to NEVER EAT AGAIN. And then tomorrow I start again.
Over the last few months I’ve assembled a Drawer of Distraction – things that keep my hands & mind busy, without needing much concentration! Most of these are best accompanied by Netflix or 90s cheesy pop music.
Making Pom Poms
Wrapping wool round & round the cardboard circles takes no brain power & is nicely repetitive. I like to make massive ones & mix up the colours depending on how I’m feeling.
Was a b&w kinda day
I blame it all on the sheep Easter pom-pom kit.
Nice & soothing to just focus on the page. Sometimes all I can manage is black & white, when my head’s to dark to think about colours.
Cross stitch is enjoying a hipster resurgence, so if you want a pattern that spells out a sweary phrase, or a pug in a hat, or Tituss Burgess from Kimmy Schmidt, you can totally make that happen.
When it’s 50p from a charity shop who cares if the horse is missing half its face. Proper satisfying.
Leave the front door, swap bag onto the shoulder nearest the road, a barrier to hide behind. Take the first few steps, check reflection in every shop window. I look like a monster. I used to be so much smaller. How could I get like this? As I move I feel my chest, stomach & legs wobble disgustingly. Try tensing all my muscles & wrapping my arms around my middle, to squash it all back in. Become very conscious of my knees. Am I using them correctly? Is this how you walk? Am I keeping everything as still as possible whilst moving forward? Look down & see the front if my thighs rippling with every step. Imagine it rippling down the back too, the cellulite bulging. I notice the belt round my jeans. 6 holes larger than it used to be, each hole telling a different story, down to the self-made smallest, proudly tighter than the smallest waist size in the smallest size belt. I feel the inside of my thighs rubbing. The denim is wearing thin, evidence of my greed. My bag is carrying my purse. Does it look like there could be food in there? Are people looking at me thinking ‘good god how dare she have bought food in her state!’. Check my reflection again. The size of me is enormous. Even my head, my face, just too big, too much. I turn round, swap my bag onto the other shoulder, & head home to the safety of my room.
I remember a time when I didn’t have to choose to stay alive. It was just what I did. I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired, & didn’t go to bridges to jump off them. Every day now I have to rediscover that desire simply for life. Staring at my food, the ‘fuel’ for my ‘body’. But I don’t want a body, so why would I fuel it? Sleeping stops me eating, but doesn’t burn as many calories as being awake. I can’t be achieving anything while I’m asleep. But what can I achieve? May as well sleep. In just a few steps, as the bells ring, I could be in the water, & gone. All gone.
But I turn on my music, take a step back, & walk back home.
I have decided to rise from the ashes, one more time.