The shit hits the fan; diagnosed with anorexia

TW: eating disorders, weight

Had a really cathartic appointment with my individual therapist this morning. I sobbed over my parents not giving any reaction to me, they are always on the other side of this wall they’ve put up, the only feeling that ever broke through was anger.

I’m desperate to feel love and care from them. I feel like I never learnt how to accept love and care and so I can’t get it from other relationships either. I don’t know how to move forward with this right now.

Also it’s never about me. Even when I’m really ill like now, it is always about protecting mum and her feelings. It should be about me and my hurt for once rather than it being that I’m screwed up and causing people stress. I want my feelings to finally be heard. But not this weekend. Not on mother’s day.

The title refers to the hell of a week I’ve had. I weigh 99.8lbs. My bmi is 16. Sunday evening I had a meltdown and couldn’t stop crying. I felt like I can’t go on. The stress of worrying about food stuff and all these hurt feelings and anger is unbearable. My life is unmanageable. I’m too tired and weak to do the things I need to do. Eating is torture and so is not eating. Agonising about food is causing me immense stress.

I reached crisis point and luckily I was able to see my GP the next day (Monday). He weighed me and asked me lots of questions and he diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa. I had to go for blood tests and then an ECG at the hospital yesterday. I’m being referred to the eating disorders team. I don’t know how long it will take and I’m desperate but at the same time I’m afraid. I’m afraid of gaining weight. I’m scared I’ll start eating and won’t be able to stop. I’m scared I won’t be able to eat even if I really try.

At group this week I came clean about what is going on with the eating disorder. I got a couple of supportive reactions and one who made it all about her. Not a bad average I guess. The group leader said it was good I’d gone to my GP and was being referred and that treatment for my ED should take priority for now. He said that some people take a break from MBT at least at first when they are getting treatment for things like anorexia.

My therapist today also said a couple of times that she thinks it’s really good that I made the decision to go the the GP. She said it shows me making a decision and an action to help myself, to look after myself and towards becoming myself, becoming an adult person who will be able to move on from the poisonous thoughts my parents gave me about myself, the thoughts that have been such a core part of me but they don’t have to be a part of me forever.

Holding onto Anger

This week in group I was sort of ambushed about my eating problems. I denied there’s anything going on. Just not ready to talk about that in group yet and I wasn’t prepared for the group leader to hint at it.

Today in my individual session we talked about what could be fuelling the eating disorder. There are feelings brought up by MBT that I just don’t know how to handle. Anger, shame and guilt.

The plan now is to talk through these and maybe learn to manage them in other ways. We talked about my fear of my own anger, how I feel like I’m just like my dad when I’m angry and how that makes me hate myself.

Another big issue I have with anger is getting stuck with it after. If I could express it properly and then move on it wouldn’t be half so unbearable. Perhaps if I could express my anger more effectively/in a way more aligned with my values, it’d be more cathartic/productive and I’d feel more able to move on from it.

My therapist hinted that if I continue to lose weight, the therapy could be deemed as doing more harm than good. She didn’t mean this as a threat but it sort of feels like one. She said “I can’t just watch you getting thinner and thinner and not do anything about it” and gestured to my body. She even asked at one point if I want to be referred to am ED specialist, but I don’t know if she meant it.

Educational Privilege and the Mental Health System

I know this is a slightly different tone of post than my readers might be used to. It’s not a personal update (although it’s certainly personal as well) but more of a political one.

The mental health system is a subset of broader social life, and as such prejudices like classism operate in a similar way but can be made worse by the additional ableism and stigma attached to mental health problems.

There is an assumption that people with mental health problems are less intellectually capable. This is part of the stereotype of the mentally ill person and has no basis in fact.

People who have less formal education will face greater challenges in navigating the mental health system and endure greater discrimination. The system is full of obstacles such as form filling and being expected to advocate for yourself with people using medical language instead of speaking in terms you would use to describe your own day to day experiences.

In a similar way that men experience negative effects from sexism, people with educational privilege experience negative effects from the ableist assumption that a person cannot be both educated and mentally ill. (This in no way negates the fact that it is privilege in action here.)

If you have the fortune to be educated you may be refused the help you need because you don’t conform to stereotypical assumptions about how a mentally ill person appears. I find myself holding back and becoming fearful of advocating for myself because there is no understanding that you can be very capable or experienced in some areas while experiencing severe problems and inability to cope in other parts of your day to day life.

It is vital that work to improve mental health services continues to emphasise the diversity of experience and presentation of people with mental health difficulties and to make the system work for the user, rather than being a series of hurdles to access help.

Thank you for reading. Please share and I’d love to hear your comments below.

The cat is out of the bag

Trigger warnings: ED, weight

So, my eating issues came out in my MBT review last week and they said I should talk to my social worker about it this week, or basically they’d do it for me.

I’d decided by this week that it was terrible that I had said anything at all about it at my review and that I would NOT mention it to my social worker as I feel safer keeping this stuff to myself. My eating disorder has become my whole world at this point and the thought of letting others come blundering into that world is a terrifying one.

Then, at my meeting with my social worker, out of the blue she says “so are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?” and I thought the others had spoken to her but actually she’s noticed my dramatic weight loss herself and it was coincidence that she brought it up herself just after my review. So after I’d consciously decided to keep it to myself as much as possible, I ended up having to have another intrusive conversation about it.

She’s concerned and to be fair to her she’s lovely and desperate not to push me further into my eating disordered behaviour. But that is exactly what is happening. I was on 600 kcals or less a day and since this conversation I feel the need for increased control, to hold onto it with both hands because I feel like them knowing risks taking some control away from me. So now I’m on 500 kcals or less a day and I’ve planned in plenty of exercise over the weekend.

To give you an idea of the extent of it at the moment, I’ve lost over 2.5st (35lbs) in total since MBT began last April and over 1.5st (21lbs) of that is since Christmas. My BMI is 16.5 and my periods have stopped. Basically, I’m anorexic. I couldn’t stop (without help) if I wanted to).

I feel like I’m floating away from the world…