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Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Possibly triggering, talk of Anorexia and weight gain/loss, from the perspective of a younger me, who didn’t know details about Eating Disorders.

There was a girl in college who some assumed was Anorexic, myself included.

During my first year (and probably hers too) she was extremely thin, so much so that when she walked past she was a talking point. Her legs, which she always covered in tights and shorts, looked like they’d snap with the slightest force.

After a while I stopped seeing her. I thought maybe she had gone into treatment, maybe left college or even been in residential care. Not knowing anything in-depth about Eating Disorders back then, only having watched documentaries like Thin and Dana: The 8 Year Old Anorexic, I began looking for her. After all, as fascinating as an emaciated body is, I also felt a strong connection with Anorexia that I never fully understood until I started writing and reading blogs.

 

(Source)

The next year I noticed this girl who had the same colour hair, the same style, was the same height and had same face, but she was bigger. She was, I’m making an assumption here, overweight. Not by a lot, but she was noticeably bigger, most likely because she was fairly short.

I couldn’t believe it. I stared at her whenever I saw her. I couldn’t help it. In my mind, Anorexia was all about control, how could she have lost control? Surely she couldn’t be ok with her weight? But she was walking with so much confidence, I couldn’t understand it.

I longed to ask her but I was afraid she’d tell me it was none of my business. Which it wasn’t, as it still isn’t. So why do I bring it up? Because I saw her the other day. After staying at a heavier weight for at least a year, she was slimmer. But healthy-looking.

And I realised, I assumed she was Anorexic when I wasn’t as clued up about Eating Disorders, but that generalisation has stayed with me. I automatically assumed she was Anorexia, whereas now I think maybe she had Bulimia, or Binge-Eating Disorder, or EDNOS. Maybe she was a yo-yo dieter, or maybe she went through a rough time, a grievance or something that made her eating habits change and her weight fluctuate.

Or maybe she isn’t disordered at all, and the weight gain and loss was just natural, maybe she was just going through different stages in her life.

And it reiterated that it’s not possible to tell by a person’s appearance whether they have an Eating Disorder, never mind which Eating Disorder. Nor is it possible to tell what’s going through someone’s mind.

Do any moments stand out in particular when you realised how weight obsessed or Eating Disorder obsessed you are?

Hayley Emma

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So, Operation Well-I’m-Beautiful-So-Why-do-I-Give-A-Fuck has kind of fallen to the wayside on this blog. But not in real life.

The other day, someone said something intending to intimidate me. And it worked. I left the room feeling very small and especially stupid. I didn’t have a comeback even though on way home I knew exactly what I wanted to say (isn’t that always the way), but the chance to hit back was over.

On my way home, as well as thinking what I should have said, I also started focusing on chocolate. My go-to food when I’m feeling happy, sad, stressed… anything. So I started scheming, what to buy, how many shops to go in without raising suspicion, and how to hide the food from my family when I got home. I fixated on the ‘food is the answer’ myth and before I wouldn’t have let it go. I would have obsessed about it, so even if I resisted and went home without binge food, I would have been craving it for  hours, if not until I indulged.

However, somethings changed. Well, I’ve changed. I am taking responsibility for my actions and how I feel. As Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. I really understand that now.

 

(Source)

Instead of pure negativity, the rant, instead of following the predictable line of:

My God I am stupid, it’s not that I’ve suddenly realised it, it’s just they’ve sussed me out. So I’m stupid and fat. Great, I’ve got some much going for me…

There was a small voice that piped up with: You have a degree.

Instead of my self-esteem spiralling downwards and the negative thoughts rising up until they’re at the brim, so close to spilling over and having a good cry or scream, emotions that I’d normally stuff back down with food… this tiny voice offered a ray of hope.

Yeah, actually, I do have a degree. A degree doesn’t necessarily mean you’re intellectual, nor do you have to have a degree to be an intellectual, but it’s one thing that shows I’m not stupid. And I know how hard I had to work to get in to University, as well as actually complete the course.

And then, when I’d acknowledged that thought rather than slam it down as a pointless argument, convincing myself that I only just managed to get into Uni and struggled through so they really only had to give me a degree and besides, don’t most people have a degree these days? I clung to that thought, the little ray of hope.

And then I went with it. After a while of resisting the idea that maybe everything in the world isn’t shit, I hasten to add. I’m not going to make this sound easy, talking myself out of a binge is fucking hard.

I decided that yes, I went to Uni, I am not stupid. And yeah, I’m overweight, but I’m taking steps to not binge and improve my eating. If I was doing amazingly well and losing weight really quickly, that would probably result in rapid weight gain after I’d finished restricting.

And I have friends. Very lovely friends, a friend came filming with me the other day, and a friend had me over to watch a scary movie last week. So I’m liked.

I’ve got a job now, which I’m doing ok with. I’ve improved on stuff and I think I’ve made some friends.

Yeah, so… I can’t be that bad. And maybe this person has some issues of their own. Maybe they were just having a bad day. It doesn’t matter, because it’s them who has the problem, putting that on me isn’t going to make anyone feel better, and food isn’t going to make all my problems go away. Otherwise I’d be problem-free by now.

So I went home, and I didn’t stress about food.

And It felt refreshing.

Hayley Emma

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In this song, ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ Hilson sings about her beauty and how girls can be jealous of her.

First of all, I think it’s great when someone has self-confidence and can believe that they are beautiful, whether they’re fat, thin, whatever. So although the British part of me is saying “how conceited!” the body image obsessed part of me is yelling “hooray!”

Secondly, I don’t take this song seriously.

But thirdly, it draws a parallel to Samantha Brick. Keri Hilson, however, got there first.

It’s the idea that if I woman says she’s pretty, and another woman either doesn’t like her, treats her differently or disagrees, then she is jealous. There’s no other explanation. Because, obviously, Keri is pretty, there is no denying that, so jealousy must be the reason that people disagree, right?

Even though I don’t hate anybody because they’re beautiful, I’m sure pretty girls don’t always get positive attention. I’m sure some women are jealous, but then with lyrics such as : ‘Pretty as a picture / Sweeter than a swisher / Mad ’cause I’m cuter than the girl that’s with you’ and ‘Girls think I’m conceited ’cause I know I’m attractive / Don’t worry about what I think, why don’t you ask him?’ I’m not surprised you’re getting negative attention, Keri, because you come off a little rude.

(source)

Beauty is subjective. Keri Hilson is very beautiful in my opinion, but someone else might only find her mildly attractive, and another person will find her ugly. I think she’s got a nice figure, someone else may say it’s amazing and others may hate it. Nothing is going to change the definition of beauty, because it can’t be defined. It depends on your personal opinion. So why do we put so much of our self worth on whether we look beautiful to other people?

I don’t hate Keri Hilson because she’s beautiful. I think this song is about self-confidence and superficiality, and as I said, I’m not going to take it too seriously. What I completely agree with is that no one should be judged purely on their looks, and we shouldn’t judge ourselves on our looks either.

In my first CBT session I was asked to draw a pie chart of how important things in my life are. Needless to say, weight took up a good 90%, leaving little room for anything else. So all of my achievements, the Uni course I was on, my family and friends, my hobbies only got a share of 10%. Ever since I’ve been working on trying to lower my fixation on weight so I can spend more time appreciating my other attributes. Weight is still a huge part of the pie. But as long as I continue to place all of my self-worth on my weight, I won’t be happy. I will never be perfect, and I’m learning to embrace that.

It’s natural to make snap decisions about people based on their looks, we all do it to some extent. I’d love to be able to change it though, by encouraging people to question why they assumed the guy with dreadlocks is a hippie, or the girl covered in tattoos is aggressive. And to note just how many times their pre-conceived judgement was wrong. Just like if I was jealous of Keri Hilson, I’d ask myself is it my own insecurities that are making me jealous? Why does her beauty matter to me?

What do you think, are we ever going to stop judging people on their looks? Or are we, as a society, set in our ways?

Hayley Emma

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Alexa Chung is known for her fashion choices, praised by fashionistas for her innovative style. She started out in the modelling industry and turned to presenting, being on Channel 4’s Popworld. I’ve been pretty impartial about Alexa Chung throughout her career, not being hugely into her style, although she seems funny and likeable, but I’ve always wondered if she was naturally very skinny or unhealthily so.

These thoughts used to irritate me back in the day before therapy and working on my own body image, now however, I see her as a talented woman who’s definitely fashion forward, but who’s style I wouldn’t want to emulate.

However, she’s earned my respect with her outlook on body image. She hasn’t praised her own body or claimed to be completely happy with herself, but she’s been really down to earth about a situation that must have been difficult for her. I read this Jezebel article and then this Fashionista article about Alexa Chung and her troubles with Instagram.

In April, Alexa Chung made her Instagram private after posting this photograph (source) of her and her mum. She received comments claiming she was too thin and unhealthy-looking.

Making her Instagram private is a prime example of how Alexa Chung doesn’t like to think of herself as thinspiration. A quote from this article about a certain comment reads:

Chung responded to the comments – an example of which reads: ‘I’m going to be very honest. I look at this picture and think “This is a woman not eating.” Thus, I worry for women everywhere’ – by writing “Hi, I am here. I can read.”

In the interview with Fashionista, Chung said:

I just get frustrated because, just because I exist in this shape, doesn’t mean that I’m like advocating it and being like, ‘I look great.’ How do you know I’m not looking in the mirror and going ‘I wish I could gain ten pounds?’ Which is actually quite often the case.

(Source)

I’ve known quite a few people wanting to gain weight rather than lose it, and they weren’t disordered. I couldn’t fathom it before – if your body is the ideal, why would you want to change it? But Chung said it eloquently – just because someone is skinny or fat, it doesn’t mean they like the way they look, let alone think that is it the best way to look.

She also said:

I think it’s about time people stopped judging women on their appearance and more on their intellect. Like you can appreciate my style without having to appreciate my weight. It’s not actually mutually inclusive.

THANK YOU. I’m not a big fan of her style personally. Her body shape, height and weight all suit the style of clothes she wears, but if she liked pin up style clothes, does that mean she shouldn’t wear them, because of her lack of curves? Of course not, just as someone who is plus size loves the Indie look should dress that way if they like.

What do you think about this? I have thought that she looked very thin, maybe even too thin, but is what I’ve just written any more appropriate to when Karl Lagerfeld called Adele a ‘little too fat’?

Hayley Emma

 

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I’ve thought of quite a few blog posts in the past fortnight, but every time I’ve sat down to write them I’ve stared at a blank page.

Although I’ve had a few ideas, I’ve felt like I’ve been carrying what I think might be the key to fully understanding my Eating Disorder. I’ve been carrying it round with me for a week, unsure of whether I should write about this without having had a proper discussion with my therapist.

Last week I was 20 minutes late for therapy. At the time I was upset about a difficult situation which I’m pretty powerless in, and I was tired from work. I found it difficult to drag myself out of bed and so was late, and then there was traffic, so my Dad took pity on me and after battling through the traffic, took me to therapy.

I said it was my fault and I should have gotten up earlier, but I didn’t realise how annoyed she was going to be, since most weeks I’m on time. It was no big deal, right? She said everything happens for a reason, but I thought maybe it was just really busy traffic and then she said:

“I’m not offended, but I know if you were going somewhere you were really excited about, you’d be on time.”

I nodded, but I thought “No, I wouldn’t.”

The discussion led to whether I thought this, as in therapy, was working for me. I left the office having to seriously think about what I wanted.

I considered leaving. Maybe therapy wasn’t for me? I felt like I’d been covering the same thing for a couple of weeks not really keeping up with the progress I’d made but not regressing either. Maybe having a job had lifted some of the Depression and I was in a better place, financially and emotionally?

But then I thought about how I’d have to really change my eating for good, and most importantly, how I’d lose weight. And what if I lost my job, or had a rough time at my job? In the current climate it’s very possible I’ll be unemployed again as soon as next year. It’s just so uncertain. What if I’m then plunged back into this swamp of Depression, jobless, struggling to leave the house and avoiding all of my problems until I’m even more overweight than right now?

As much as I want to sort it out myself or just get over it, I haven’t managed to do that before. If I’m hoping things will be different just because  I want them to be, then I have learnt nothing over the past couple of years. Lighterlife is a very attractive option which I might have gone back to, had I not gained this awareness into Binge Eating and Eating Disorders.

And then it hit me, I wouldn’t be on time to an event I was excited about. I cancel on my friends all the time because I get so anxious about what could happen whilst we’re outside, mingling with people who can see my body. It’s horrendous, and I never feel comfortable even though I want to see my friends. If I carry on the way I’m going, no one is going to want to meet me anymore, because I’d probably cancel and waste their day.

And honestly, the mess I’ve made of my house. I have been so messy and, there’s no other name for it, a total slob when it comes to cleaning that mess. It’s awful, i leave wrappers lying around, don’t put my clothes in my wardrobe but chuck them on the floor. I’m disgusted with myself. I am not this person. I’m not a clean freak by any means but I like things tidy, I like to be organised, I like to get to places early. And yet I’m not like that.

I kind of, sort of, hate myself… a little bit.

And it dawned on me, that giving up therapy now, following the same route I’ve taken before isn’t just going to suddenly change because I hope it will.

I have to make the change.

I missed therapy last week because I was in bed. I struggled to get out of bed, but who hasn’t when it’s still dark outside, and cold? But people get up, because they have to. Otherwise they’ll be late, or they’ll miss work etc, and there are repercussions to these actions.

Today I sat in front of my therapist and explained all of this. I’m scared, because moving forward on a different path means the unknown, and for whatever reason, I’ve wanted to avoid that for years. But on the other hand, somewhere new has got to be better than where I’ve already been.

Hayley Emma

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Since I’ve gotten a job I’ve noticed my social anxiety has significantly reduced. I’m going out usually 5 days a week, and leaving the house that often would have brought on a mild anxiety attack just from thinking about it.

Although going out and facing people, meeting colleagues, e.t.c have made a huge difference, I think having a job has boosted my confidence in so many ways. I now walk to and from work with more of an identity.

I am no longer unemployed, overweight and eating disordered, I am now … employed, overweight but working on it, and eating disordered but in therapy. I can now afford to join a gym, and although I have less time to go, I feel I have more of a reason to make an effort. And I’ve felt that with every aspect of my life.

For the past 3 weeks I haven’t been so focused on chocolate, or bingeing. I’ve gone to buy classic binge food almost without thinking about it, but as my therapist reminded me “you don’t have to buy it.” And I haven’t. Teamed with more exercise due to work and generally just getting out more, I’ve lost some weight. Nothing to write home about, but enough to remind myself that I can do this.

I can walk away from an impending binge, and I can lose weight, and I can have an Eating Disorder free existence. Or as ED free as possible for me.

Since unemployment is an international issue, how has being unemployed/employed helped or hindered your Eating problems?

Hayley Emma

P.s. I’m still adjusting to working and so please bear with me with infrequent posts :)

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I started my new job a couple of weeks ago and enjoy it, but I’m exhausted because of it. I wish I could go into detail – actually you know what? I’ll be completely honest.

I seriously thought about shutting down my blog because I’ve lost a bit of faith in the blogging community. Blogging used to be fun and interesting. I understand so much more about Anorexia and Bulimia, Binge Eating and EDNOS than I ever could reading a text book, and I’m so grateful for this. It’s also lovely that there are bloggers out there who have gone through such different experiences and feel they can share them with supportive readers who will help just by reading, even though they may not realise it.

We all know there are risks to blogging – there are strange people out in the world and the internet gives them access to us. As well as the supportive, pro-recovery or people not sure what to do, there are people who are so deep in their disorders that they feel a need to share their happiness with the world.

As much as I don’t like this, glazing over everything not so glamorous and emphasising how great it is to not eat or be thin (it’s interesting how you don’t get that so much with binge-eating, right? I mean, there’s nothing glamorous about being so uncomfortably full you have to take deep breaths and lay down. And then the end result is usually weight gain.) as much as I don’t like this, I can understand it.

What I can’t understand is when people share their experiences of recovery and health, and then are sent ‘anonymous’ emails. A couple of weeks ago I made a brief return to blogland and left again, because, as I’m sure many of you will know, Greta’s boss received an anonymous email telling her about her blog etc.

That right there is disgusting. And yeah, I meant to put ‘anonymous’. This kind of behaviour is disgusting because Greta wears her heart on her sleeve, and gives a lot of people, including myself, encouragement that an Eating Disorder free life is possible.

As I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, I feel it would be foolish of me to write details about it. I don’t want to say what sector it’s in, the city, anything that might give away some details. So that means I can’t blog about something pretty fucking significant in my life, because someone somewhere might try to sabotage me, like someone attempted – and FAILED, may I add – to sabotage Greta.

I thought about making this blog private, but one of the many reasons that I write is so that people like me who feel they suffer by themselves, can read it and realise they’re not alone, like I’m not alone. And I’m stubborn  I’m not going to stop blogging because someone might possibly attempt to hurt my feelings or use my problems against me in real life.

I Just Thought This Was Funny. And I Don’t Even Like Bacon.

 

So I’m back blogging now. I’ve had my rant, and I’ve posted a funny passive aggressive note, I feel a lot better, so yeah. Thank you for bearing with me, I am genuinely excited to catch up on blogs and find some new ones that may have popped up since I’ve been gone.

 

Hayley Emma

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It’s been a busy week.

Last week I went to the gym and was shown round the equipment by a trainer. It was great because now I can walk in there without thinking too much about it and hop on a machine and get going. Before I had to stand on the cross trainer and figure out how to turn the effort level down, which made me feel

a)      Stupid and

b)      Extra self-conscious

I went with my Dad – who looked completely fine after the session, whereas I looked like someone shot at me in the face with a paint fun full only of red paint.

Going to the gym was difficult but I did it, and I’m going to just have to put up with the anxiety because it’s going to benefit my mental and physical health.

I also started my new job, and the people seem really nice. I explained about not being available to work sometimes because of therapy and they were completely fine and empathetic about it. I genuinely can’t wait for my next shift.

Aswell as these things, I’ve calmed down since my rage at people not understanding my situation, and I’m getting back to kicking ass. So far avoiding certain foods, not having them in the house etc is how I’ve dealt with bingeing problems, but it’s challenge time.

I don’t want to go the rest of my life not being able to have sugary cereal in the cupboard because I feel I can’t control myself. It may be fine for other people, but not for me. I’m planning meals ahead of schedule, which is crucial now I have a job, and I’m taking risks that I have previously avoided. I’m shit scared, I won’t lie.

My challenge is to bake some breakfast muffins and keep them in the house without bingeing on them. I could freeze them or something, but if I could keep them over a couple of days without overeating then that would be a huge step forward for me.

Have you challenged yourself recently?

Hayley Emma

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I had a difficult session yesterday, it was the first time I contemplated walking out of the therapist’s office.

I’m not that great with anger. It takes me a lot to get riled up properly, mostly because of the ultimate pet hate, which is:

1)      When someone talks in the 3rd person.

Hayley gets very annoyed by this. Hayley feels that people should stop talk do you know what? I can’t even do it. I can’t even write in the 3rd person because it pisses me off so much. It just screams delusions of grandeur.

This irritates me so much that my none of my family members would ever talk in the 3rd person because my rage would overflow and I would have to leave the room.

I’m exaggerating (I’m not) but this is how the majority of my anger is dealt with. It’s jokey anger, I’ll laugh as I cringe and go to my room to be alone if I’m frustrated. But I’ve realised that people not understanding me is a real source of anger for me. I find shouting and slamming doors futile: why shout at people who don’t understand? It’s not usually their fault.

I thought that my therapist understood me – I think she does now, now that I cried for almost all of the last session with frustration because it makes perfect sense to me that taking part in a documentary is easier than going for a walk for 30 minutes everyday.

I know some people don’t understand Eating Disorders. When I studied PTSD for my dissertation I didn’t understand how someone could be transported back to when the trauma happened and relive it as if they were there. I can read about it and empathise, but I’ll never understand it like someone who has experienced it.

And still, some people with Eating Disorders hold down full time jobs and wear shorts in summer and can go to the beach without too much distress – this isn’t my experience, I can’t fully understand that.

Going for a half hour walk everyday is… indescribably difficult. I think I finally put the joking aside and was able to show my therapist just how excruciating it is for me to leave the house. I have to pick what to wear, what I’ll feel comfortable in, regarding weather – I don’t want to be too hot but I also don’t want to show any skin. Do I take my mp3 player? It could help block out the outside world but what if I get out of breath and I’m breathing really loudly and I can’t hear myself but others can and they know I’m unfit and overweight and they’ll think I just overeat because I like food? And where do I go? If I go to the shops will I be able to not buy chocolate, and if I do how much do I buy, and will there be popcorn? And what will the sales assistants think of me? What if they say anything? And if I don’t go to the shop where do I go? And what if I get tired or panic or what if I don’t walk anywhere?

The thoughts that remind me of anxiety cat just go on and on, so that I don’t go for a walk and then I’ve failed. And then I feel terrible. Misunderstood and a failure.

And I have failed at walking for 30 minutes everyday, because my therapist suggested we make it 15 minutes everyday, and now I feel like a head case, and so so far from being able to cope with food, and losing weight, and being happy.

I like to have a bit of clarity and a meaning behind my posts but on this one I’m kind of stumped. My therapist said it might be my behaviours are so ingrained (I’m been hiding my body and hiding away inside at every opportunity throughout the last decade) that it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work to finally change.

I’m sick of waiting though, of dealing with these problems. What if I can’t get better? What if I’m doomed to yo-yo in weight until I give up altogether and collect cats for every year of spinsterhood? I’ve succeeded in weight loss before and it was euphoric… but the gain was so horrible that I don’t want to go back there again.

Eurgh. There. I’ve had an unedited moan. Any words of wisdom would be very helpful right about now.

Hayley Emma

P.s. Does anyone know what happened to Eating Disorder Memes?

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I’m a bad blogger.

I felt like a broken record last week, I didn’t want to write about how down I felt or moments of achievements. I kind of wanted to stop writing stuff and do them.

And … I did.

This summer has been full of risks: Filming the documentary, going to hen parties, showing my arms at the wedding (I still can’t believe I actually did that). I didn’t know these things were going to go well, and I still don’t know how the documentary will turn out, but I took the chance in doing them because I know I’d regret it if I didn’t.

A couple of weeks ago I came to the frightening conclusion that in order to move forward, I’m going to have to do a lot of things I really don’t want to do. I knew this deep down, but I was kind of pretending these things wouldn’t be so bad. I was wrong.

I’ve already done things I didn’t want to do, and the depressing part is that I’ve got to keep doing them. Most of the time I want to watch a DVD with a hot chocolate and a blanket. But not taking risks hasn’t gotten me anywhere, and although I may stumble and fall, surely that’s better than staying put.

My downfall is that I think about things too much. Eventually a trip to a friend’s house becomes an obstacle course, each obstacle becomes an opportunity for social embarrassment and worse, another reason not to try. This results in an attempt to leave the house and the inexplicable urge to run and hide. And by run and hide, I mean take cover and eat something.

The moments when I have triumphed have been the moments I haven’t thought too much about. Working myself up over showing my arms only made me anxious, thinking about all the possible outcomes of going out on a Saturday night did not help me get ready and go.

The smaller triumphs like walking in public or booking a trip to Plymouth weren’t completely over-analysed. If I’d have thought about every little aspect I wouldn’t have gone, and I’ve avoided situations because of this.

But lately I’ve been a tad reckless – applying for jobs, going to Plymouth, flirting. And it’s all worked out well for me – I’ve got a job, part time, which I’m really pleased about, I got to see a lot of people I haven’t seen on my trip to Plymouth which was great, and I flirted and was not publicly humiliated so … that’s always a positive.

That’s not the end of it, though. My next task is to start my job, and then I want to go to the gym.

The thought is terrifying, and so I’m not thinking about it. Like Nike says, Just Do It.

 

Mind you, it’s not easy. I’m a beginner.

Hayley Emma

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