If you cast your mind back about 15 years you may recall a set of twins that were suffering with anorexia. They were one of the first publicly shown images of highlighting a widely misunderstood illness and discussing it openly for the first time. I remember vividly the day I saw them in the paper and as I looked at the emaciated images, bones protruding and eyes sunk deep in to their skulls thinking to myself how the hell can they think they're fat when they look like they are about to die someone should tell them to stop being stupid and just eat. Well that came back to bite me on the bum!!
Eating disorders although far more widely discussed still have a negative stigma attached to them and for many people it is still a case of tell them there not fat and to just eat, I wish it was that simple.
You may find it hard to believe that I absolutely love food, the smell, the taste, the texture so I don't really get why I can't eat. Prior to admission and for the past 11 years I have been what I have come to learn is a bulmarexic . I was relieved to hear there was a name for my behaviour although I would normally despise labelling of people. On this occasion however it was a relief to know that I was not the complete freak I thought I was and that others had the same behaviours as me.
When I first developed anorexia it was after a severe case of gastric flu which had caused me to loose a fair amount of weight, I remember returning to college where I was studying performing arts and class mates telling me how good I looked (prior to this I had felt like I was perhaps too big for my height but not enough to actually do anything about it) I looked at myself in the dance studio mirror and thought yes I do look good and I was pleased with the figure I now had, almost what feels like over night I remember once again looking at my reflection in the studio mirror and thinking I could do with loosing more weight. From this point I practically cut out all food and unfortunately all drink and began to excessive excessively.
Due to late rehearsals at college I was able to inform my mom that I had already eaten and so would be able to get away with eating nothing. Each day I would jump on the scales and see my weight drop but each time it fell I would think well if I just get to 6 stone that will be enough, however it's never enough.
I remember very clearly one day I had to eat at home and mom had made cheese and potato pie I was working in my room on a college assignment and so decided to eat at my desk, I remember picking at the food and having eaten some made myself sick in to a pot which I hid behind my curtain to dispose of later that night when everyone was in bed, unfortunately this was discovered by my mom who snapped what the hells wrong with you do you want to be anorexic? I bet this has come back to bite her on the bum as well (just in case your reading mom don't worry this isn't the reason for the eating disorder I had already got it) from this point I didn't hide my not eating I openly just refused to eat or drink despite encouragement to do so. On the rare occasion I allowed myself to eat it would be boiled cabbage served in a small bowl which I would eat with tomato sauce or soy sauce and most of the time would eat with chopsticks, don't ask me why as I have no idea, feel free to also be amused by this behaviour, I am. Drinking was also a no no apart from 1 cup of coffee with no calorie sugar which had to be drunk at a specific time on an evening and only in the company of my mon, if this routine was interrupted it was like the end of the world had happened and I would not then be able to drink at all. Each night would also have the same routine I would go to bed and take a bassets chewy multi vitamin and a remagel for heart burn which I had much of the time and then try to sleep. Of course I could never sleep and would lie awake all night listening to audio books on headphones, I have since been told the reason I couldn't sleep was because I hadn't taken in enough calories, not sure how true this is.
Within 3 months my weight had dropped severely and I was struggling to think straight I watched my mom eat a mars bar one night and so desperately wanted some of course she offered but all I could do was smell it and give it her back. It was not long after this that I was in the supermarket with mom and broke down in tears telling Her i wanted to be normal and able to eat. I imagine this was such a relief to her that I had finally admitted there was something wrong and before I new it I was at the doctors discussing inpatient care.
After only 3 months since I started to loose weight I was admitted to the specialist unit where my parents were informed I only had about 3 weeks to live. This didn't register with me at all and so I continued to fight against treatment. I stayed there for 3 months after which I discharged myself as I foolishly believed I was cured. The after math must have been exhausting for my parents who tried to stick to the hospital routine, breakfast would be brought to me in bed and meals were weighed and measured to exact portions. I coped for a while but as the weight continued to increase the harder it became, I began to say that I was feeling sick when eating breakfast and then when they brought me a bowl I would be sick then eat some more of the breakfast so it looked like I was really trying. I then began to make myself sick after most meals, the next bit of my story is quite gross and I am embarrassed to reveal it but as I said I would always tell the truth no matter how hard. In order to hide the fact I was chucking up all the food I ate I began to use a large pot which I had in my room to vomit in to I would then hide this in either the wardrobe or a drawer in my bedside table which I had emptied for this purpose, as the vomiting progressed I found the need to use at least 3 pots again placed away from sight in various places in my room which I would then empty in to the toilet at times no one was in or after they had gone to bed.
It was not too long before I was dragged to the doctors about my being sick at breakfast because I had managed to convince them I was actually not well this backfired some what when the doctor admitted me to the general hospital. They informed me at the hospital that they thought I might have a hernia and would need to put a camera down, panic set in there was no way this was happening or that I was stopping in hospital I cried and cried eventually telling my parents that I thought it might me anxiety that was causing the sickness, I think it all clicked in to place for them at this point and I discharged myself and they took me over to the specialist unit to speak to the nurses for some support. Next thing I new I was back in the unit on bed rest not even allowed to go to the bathroom without using a wheel chair.
I remained in inpatient care for about 10 months progressing on to day care where I was doing well and slowly starting normal activity swimming going to the gym etc... Unfortunately it was all to go wrong when I decided enough was enough I had missed out on too much of life and so went to audition for a musical theatre course with Lancaster uni based at the college in Blackpool, I auditioned on the Friday and got accepted to start on the Monday, I rang my parents who were on holiday abroad to inform them when they came back I would not be at home and instead living in Blackpool (ruined that holiday, sorry) with no where to live and no student loan Ben drove me on the sunday where I booked in to a b&b and started the course the next day I then moved in to a house with some girls from my course on the Tuesday. I didn't tell anyone about the eating problems I had had and so they cooked meals for us all I didn't want them to know I had a problem and so I ate what was given but could not cope and so instantly resorted to making myself sick again. Needless to say this was the beginning of the end as once I started on this path I could not get off and it was not long with this and dancing for 6 hours a week that the weight fell off and I ended up having to give up my dream course and return home.
To cut what has I know been along story short (if your still reading many thanks for sticking with it) my life just kind of existed from then on there were many good times and some not so good. I managed to get up to around 35kg and maintained at this weight for several years unfortunately still continuing with restricting and vomiting. I did all the things I thought I would never do I fell in love with a wonderful and supportive man, learnt to drive, got a responsible full time job and even brought a house. Then about three years ago I started to go downhill, Ben and I were experiencing financial problems which were causing much stress and the weight began to drop without me really trying, then 2 years ago I lost the most wonderful woman and my best friend my nan, I was and still am devastated at the loss and struggled to cope.
Fast forward to a few months ago and I had food poisoning which caused me to have the squirts like you would not believe however after this it caused me to be constipated and this in turn caused me to to become bloated which I of course equated to being too big. The weight fell off and my legs swelled violently causing me to be in severe pain when walking. The doctors thought this was due to a thyroid problem and started me on medication which did nothing, they then said it was due to low protein levels. The bottom of my legs then went down and I developed severe swelling in my knees and thighs which made bending my legs impossible and so I ended up walking like a pregnant penguin. It all started to go down hill health wise quickly and I became so depressed that I actually wanted to die. At the end if was taking me about five minutes to climb the stairs which of course was due to my legs (in my head) and nothing to do with my heart wasting away. I didn't see it at the time and kept telling myself the weight was coming off without me trying but looking back I can see that I had cut out all the little extras I used to have like sweets at work and fruit and had even started making myself sick after drinks.
It was the night I sobbed and told Ben I wanted to die that he spent the entire night watching me believing that I would be dead and he would have to burry me. That was it for Ben and because we were getting no where with the doctors he drove to the specialist unfit and refused to leave until he had seen the consultant. Anyway the rest I think I have already told you and it takes me to now where I still am and still stuck for much of the time on bed rest.
It was my intention to really explain what bulmarexia was but guess I got some what side tracked on how it all started. Sorry that this blog has been so long but I guess it's helpful for me to look at the whole illness and see how it has progressed and changed and how I have done the same. Either that or I have just had a writing purge (pardon the pun)anyway if your reading this many thanks for sticking with it to the end and I will try to make tomorrows a little shorter. Xx