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.

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Back in Individual Therapy

It wasn’t as awkward seeing my therapist today as I’d feared it would be. She’s been away for three weeks over Christmas and it has been tough trying to deal with things on my own. I’m so glad she’s back.

I told her about the small overdose I took on Christmas Eve, and about how seeing my family at Christmas was a monumental effort as usual in the category of Acting Like Everything is OK.

What really got us talking was when I brought up what my sister said on the way over to my parents’ house on Christmas Day. Basically, she admitted that our dad used to get very drunk each year on Christmas Eve (he drank a lot the rest of the time too), and that this was upsetting. She even gave the example of the time he started crying and wandered off (I had to go after him) and we were all really worried.

This may not seem like much, so let me explain the significance for me. My family never admit that anything has ever been wrong or difficult except for my behaviour. There is an unspoken agreement that I was the cause of conflict as a child and that other than that things were fine. My sister saying this is an admission that not only were things not always fine, but also that my dad’s drinking was an issue and that his behaviour had a negative effect on us.

This has brought up a lot of confusing thoughts for me. There is a battle going on inside me about who I am and what happened when I was a kid. What feels true is what I’ve been told all my life: that I am bad and worthless and the cause of anything bad that befell me. What I am thinking now though is starting to question those feelings and beliefs of badness. My sister saying the above is the first evidence from someone else in my family that things were not right, and not just because of me. That’s huge.

My therapist said there was a shift today in the way that I spoke about my childhood and my family. I spoke more from a personal perspective and was more emotionally engaged. She was more able to understand what things were like for me growing up. It hurt very much to speak about things that way, but it is reassuring to hear that she feels I am making progress.

Feeling stronger

MBT has been really good this week, I feel like I’ve been able to be myself more. It’s a bit scary but my therapist finished our session this morning by saying “you’re doing really well” which made me feel so good about the effort I’ve put in. I really need that praise/reassurance.

I saw my family recently and it was sort of ok. I have painful moments but I’m still able to enjoy some of the time with them. It has made me a little less afraid of Christmas. I feel like I’ll get through it at least, whereas just last week I felt I really wouldn’t survive seeing them. I feel stronger right now. I wish I knew how to hold on to this feeling.

My Christmas presents are almost all sorted. I hand make almost all my gifts thanks to being skint and on benefits but I’ve made enough progress with my list that I feel confident I’ll finish everything in time. It has therefore gone from a source of stress to a welcome distraction.

Walking on eggshells

I left group this week feeling really angry. I struggle to get a word in edgeways. This is partly because of people interrupting and talking over each other, but it’s also my own issue; I find I need a few seconds of silence before I can speak. I imagine this hesitancy is another one of those gifts from my less than idyllic childhood.

My father’s unpredictable temper probably taught me to walk on eggshells. At times I’d do just the opposite, deliberately pushing him into losing his temper just so it would be over and I wouldn’t have to deal with it hanging over my head, the not knowing what would happen next. There were few ways I could take control over the situation, and escalating it to get it over with was the way I chose.

I’ve been told for years by my family, as a child but also since then, that the conflict in the family was my fault because of this survival strategy. That guilt and the belief that I caused all these problems is a part of my core, and something I am struggling now to put into perspective. My therapist has challenged me on this, but it is an idea of myself that snaps back into place at any opportunity. There are moments when I glimpse alternative points of view. I suppose I just have to build on those.

In my individual session this week I talked with my therapist about my frustrations in trying to get myself heard in the group, and we touched on how I’ve been doing (badly) in the aftermath of talking to her about something I’ve never told anyone before. I’m not quite ready to go into that here.

I also had phonecalls with the crisis line and my social worker this week due to my self injury, which was escalating rapidly beyond my control. I didn’t find the crisis line helpful but the talk with my social worker has helped me feel that there are things I can do in terms of harm minimisation. This means I feel less out of control, though things are tough emotionally right now. I feel a sinking dread and an irritability I can’t shake. It is painful to be around others.

Parental Propaganda

My parents just popped round, cause I haven’t seen them for “ages” (it seems a comfortable amount of time to me).

I noticed for the first time today that they slip little comments in all the time. They are subtly reinforcing their view of things. I don’t think it is a conscious effort on their part. Just something they’ve always done.

Some examples from today:
1. My cousin is doing community service for a recent conviction and he won’t talk to anyone about what he did, not even his dad. My father commented that I have always been able to talk to them about what is happening with me. I laughed and said have I? He said you have haven’t you? And I just sort of rolled my eyes. My mum didn’t say anything, of course.

2. I was talking about learning to drive and I mentioned that my driving instructor thinks I’m very hard on myself. “You always have been” my dad said. My mum and I didn’t say anything. I thought “have I always though? Since birth, with no prompting?” it was them that always told me I was no good.

It’s interesting that they (although maybe it’s mostly my dad, and my mum just stays silent) feel the need to keep reinforcing this idea that we’re a happy family, always have been, and my problems come from inside me alone.

My dad mentioned a conversation he had with his brother where his brother said “what about ***? You’ve got two daughters you know? You talk about  *** all the time, and never mention how *** is doing?”. I think my dad was trying to demonstrate that he mentions me, he seemed to think I should be pleased. All it demonstrated to me is that he talks about my sister a lot but doesn’t mention me unless prompted.