HelloJ allow me to introduce myself. I’m sixteen years old (I will be seventeen in 3 weeks! Scary!!) and I live in Scotland, in the UK. I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time but never had the courage, but recently I’ve had a change in my mindset, and have decided to give it a go in a hope it will give me the extra encouragement I need. I’ve suffered from Anorexia Nervosa since I was just gone fourteen years old, and although I am now weight restored and have been on the journey of recovery for a fairly long time now, I still struggle mentally, although not many people are aware of this! Many people think I’m fine now. I seem to be very good at planting a believable smile on my face, and tricking people.
I was born in 1993 to my beautiful family. I have two little brothers, the eldest being 15 and the younger being 12. It may be worth mentioning now before I forget that brother #2 is autistic and suffers from amongst other things, severe OCD and ADHD. Anyway. Up until the age of 13 I was a perfectly “normal” young girl. I loved life. I loved my friends. I loved food. I loved performing. I loved being the centre of attention. I had a brilliant group of friends and although they were mainly from out with school, we were a very tight bunch of girls (and boys!) and my social life was amazing! I’d be out every single weekend staying at friends houses, having fun, eating pizza and cake, making fun videos, taking pictures, going bowling and so on. I was having the time of my life. I was a keen performer and danced four nights a week as well as going to acting classes and performing in regular musicals with a musical theatre group in my area. My life was at its best. It was when I was 14 though that I first started to worry about my weight. I was (was, being the operative word here) best friends with a lovely girl, who I am still in touch with today. She was really very pretty and was extremely thin. She had been underweight until a few months before we started getting clothes, and although unintentionally, I had been around her being very thin. She had the flattest tummy and the most toned arms and legs, and I felt extremely frumpy and fat next to her. Looking back, I wasn’t. I was a regular size 8 to 10 with curves in the right places (I think…) and an ass! It was a couple of weeks before my 14th birthday that I started to become particularly aware of my body. I looked in the mirror and saw somebody, not fat, but who could do with losing a couple of pounds. I sat every night writing up and diet and exercise plans, which would always fall through the next day. I never ever stuck to them and always ended up having a chocolate bar mid morning and a piece of sticky toffee pudding after my dinner.
During the summer of 2007 however, things took a bit of a dive, and I think, this is when my eating disorder really started. I initially decided to cut out all things junk. I began to skip my takeaway, normally a chippy, on a Monday night, courtesy of my Nana! I remember seeing the disappointment on her face when I refused the steaming plate of happiness that she would order in for us. Instead of the plate of delicious grease, I popped a weight watchers ready meal in to the microwave and sat and ate it with my family. My snacks went from being bags upon bags of crisps and bars of chocolate to a simple banana or a cereal bar, and my daily stop at the shop after school to gorge myself on treats quickly vanished. At this point I was dancing a lot. I enjoyed highland, tap and modern and was pushing myself to limits I didn’t think I was capable of. I started to receive praise on my dancing and was put forth for competitions in the near future. (sadly I didn’t end up competing due to my inability to stand, let alone dance!) About a month after my “healthy eating” began, I received comments, and in fact, compliments on my weight loss. I was not overly aware of my weight loss, as I didn’t weigh myself all too often, but when I stood on the scales eventually and saw I had dropped four pounds I was extremely happy. When I looked in the mirror though, nothing had changed. I still had the spare tires around my tummy and the flap on my thighs that “jiggled” when I danced. My boobs were still so big and looked incredibly stupid protruding out of my already massive body. Or so I thought.
I decided to push it a bit further, and by the end of September my breakfast had banished from sight. Mid morning break at school consisted of one fruit pastille, or one jelly haribo. That was enough. It was more than some people ate anyway. When lunch time sped around I “stuffed myself” with a banana roll or a banana sandwich, with a massive serving of ¼ of a small pot of butter from the school canteen. Despite the fact my friends were tucking into steaming hot plates of chicken curry followed by gloopy custard and cake, I still felt, and truly believed, I was eating way too much, and way more than them. After school I danced. Dancing used to be enjoyable for me, but by this time it can become an obsession. I needed to dance to burn off my lunch and if I wasn’t given a challenging enough routine to practice, or if I was told to “sit out” for a while to get my breath back, I got frustrated. I was at dance class to DANCE, not sit around or flounce around to “pathetic” routines which didn’t push me. Returning from dancing I’d simply heat up a weight watchers ready meal in the microwave or get my mum to make me a 2 egg omelette with the smallest bit of cheese possible. She wasn’t aware of how little I was eating. I managed to convince her for a long time that I was still enjoying bar among bar of chocolate during the day, yet whenever she offered my a simple crisp from her packet or asked me to try the chicken she’d made for the family, I refused.
The eating pattern I followed continued this way until around December. I began to get extremely withdrawn from my family and friends. I was always alone and never saw my friends. The time spent with my mum and brothers was extremely rare and I never ever made plans to see my grandmother or grandfather. The weekly trips to the cinema or shopping centre with my grandma quickly ended. I was either “ill”, “had lots of homework” or was “seeing friends”. needless to say, all of this was lies. In reality I was in my bedroom, doing sit ups and walking on the spot while watching Discovery Food Channel. Around the end of November/start of December my exercise began to increase. I was still dancing however my energy levels had plummeted and I was unable to complete any routine I tried. Surprisingly I managed to complete my highland dancing exam around November time and also managed to take part in a dance show, and shockingly enough managed to perform three solos to a packed theatre. I was convinced I look hideous and refused to wear the outfit they wanted me too. I got my way. My eating disorder had become so manipulative and I had again succeeded in convincing someone important to me, to do something. Following the dance show in December though, I was forced to quit. Not only was my mum reluctant to let me attend classes, but my dance teacher, who was becoming increasingly concerned refused me. She knew what was going on. She had seen it before. But I simply told her I had been to the doctor and diagnosed with an over active thyroid and similarly I was just getting over a tummy bug. Little did I know, there had been discussions between my mum and my dance teacher and she knew exactly what was going on.
My eating stayed the same all throughout December and I was getting by on around 400 calories a day, at most. A few days before Christmas, my mum informed me I was going to the GP. I went, reluctantly. The night before my visit I screamed and cried at my mum. I was unable to see the damage I was doing to myself and believed, whole heartedly that I was doing something good for my body. Surely the thousands of sit ups I was doing per day was beneficial and surely I was keeping my body pure and whole without poisoning it with food and drink. By this time I was drinking only one cup of diluting strawberry and raspberry juice a day. I drank it right before bed. I hated the feeling of anything in my tummy and drinking the tiny amount before bed was “easier” as I didn’t have to feel in my tummy. My sleeping was horrendous by this time and I was waking up at around 3am every morning, and that was me awake for the day. It still shocks me today as to how I managed to complete the gruelling 4000+ sit ups I inflicted on myself every day with a few hours sleep and no food. The GP visit was a disaster and I refused to let him weigh me, or even touch me. He told me there was nothing he could do if he didn’t know my weight and I was simply encouraged to keep a food diary. I told him in my most enthusiastic voice that yes, of course I would do that. Following the GP visit I didn’t speak to my mum. I didn’t speak to her for around three days. She had forced me to do something I didn’t want too, and I knew she was determined to make me fat.
Christmas 2007 was a living nightmare. My great grandma and grandad (Nana and Papa) had invited us all out for a Christmas meal at a hotel. I dreaded it for weeks before, and I knew that one of the four courses I’d be presented with would exceed my daily calorie limit alone. Instead of ordering a starter, I simply choose a fresh orange juice. I didn’t touch it. I gave it to my Grandma and then placed the empty glass in front of me. I felt powerful. I’d gotten away with one course so the rest should be easy. Course two came. I’d ordered the salmon dish, but of course I’d asked for boiled potatoes instead of roast potatoes and had requested that the garlic butter was put on the side and not on top of the fish. When the meal came, my heart flipped. I knew, deep down that I wouldn’t eat it anyway, so there was no need to worry, but the panic battered through me none the less. I transported the potatoes on to my mum’s (then) boyfriends plate and picked up my cutlery ready to “tuck in”. after around four forkfuls of salmon and two brussel sprouts, I was finished. I fooled myself into thinking I had been greedy. I’d eating Christmas lunch. That was the ultimate defeat. I was completely oblivious to the calories and I had no idea how much oil had been used when cooking. I’d let myself go. I felt my thunder thighs grow as I sat under the table. Despite doing two thousand sit ups before I left for the meal, I longed to go home, lock myself up in my bedroom and punish myself further. When the chocolate cake I ordered came, I couldn’t even look at it. My mum’s boyfriend ate it “for me” and then I planted the empty plate in front of me, so that it looked as though I’d eaten it. Half of me was glad. I’d gotten away with eating as little as possible. The other half of me felt terrible. This had been the one chance I’d had to prove to my family I was okay and I could do it. I’d blown it. The look of despair and disappointment, and complete worry on my family’s faces was crippling. At the time though, I was convinced that they thought I was greedy. Someone so big as me shouldn’t even be allowed the miniscule portion that I’d had. Following the meal the family came back to our house. Normally we attended my grandmas house for more fun, games, food and drink but this year we’d chosen to come home to our house. This was a relief as it meant I could hide upstairs and do the thousands of sit ups that my “body” craved. Christmas day was spent exercising all day and yet again I went to bed on an empty stomach, apart from the daily glass of diluting juice.
January and February was horrendous. I spiralled out of control and my eating plummeted further. I was starving myself all day until around 8pm, when I’d eat up a small bowl of soup, and then around midnight I’d have a weight watchers yoghurt at a measly 50 calories. Sometimes I’d change the yoghurt for a piece of low calorie toast with a scraping of jam on it, but there was never a duplication and I’d never have both. I experienced the extreme hunger in the morning but as the day went on, the feeling of hunger disappeared. I’m not sure if I was mentally pushing it out or if it physically wasn’t there. My mood was extremely low. I didn’t communicate. I snapped with everybody who came into contact with me. I spent my day on “my supermarket.com” looking at all of the different foods, and watching Discovery Food. I was particularly fond of Rachel Allan’s Home Living and The Barefoot Contessa. School became incredibly difficult and I found it so hard to concentrate. Despite this my grades soared and I was constantly receiving praise for my good work. My perfectionist attitude was at its greatest and I was determined to succeed in everything I did. When I writing something out, it would take me double, or sometimes triple the amount of time it took everyone else to do it. I was determined to form every word correctly and if I made even the smallest of mistakes I’d rip the page out and start again. I took drama at school, and dreaded the periods when we had to do practical work. I had no energy to even act as myself, let alone as anybody else. My favourite subjects were the ones I could sit down and work independently. I’ve always been an extremely independent person and like doing things my own way and when my eating disorder entered my life, this personality trait was evident.
March is when my world came crashing down. Things came to an all time low. I never saw my family. I never saw my friends. Yes, I was going to school every day with them, but we never talked. I spent lunchtime in the library. At the very beginning of March, I attended the outpatient centre for the first time. It was a Wednesday. I was informed of the meeting on the Tuesday night. The meeting was absolutely horrendous. I cried and screamed. I refused to get on the scales. I gripped on to my chair when they tried to ease me off. They tried to get me to drink a small sip of water. I refused. I couldn’t. I was scared. When they tried to get me to take off my huge jacket, I also refused. They couldn’t see my body. It was fat. They thought I was thin. I wasn’t. they’d be so shocked and revoulted when they saw my real body. And plus, I was freezing. My fingers were constantly purple and similarly, my lips hadn’t been pink in a long time. Under my baggy jeans, I wore three pairs of tights, leggings and long socks. My Ugg boots weren’t even enough to keep my feet warm. I refused to let them weigh me, so they had to let me go after three hours being interrogated. I had to go back on Friday and if I didn’t allow them to weigh me, then they would take action. They didn’t tell me WHAT this action would be, and I was convinced I was too fat for anything to even occur. Wednesday and Thursday night was horrible. I didn’t speak to my mum, and I cut my food even more, not that there was much to cut. The appointment on the Friday was the worst day of my life, or definitely one of. I was forced on to the scales. I had no idea of my weight convinced I was still what I was before I started to loose. I didn’t look at the numbers. Susan (the eating disorder specialist who would soon become a major part in my life) went out of the room to talk to her assistant. She told me before she left that if my BMI was lower than 14 then I would be admitted to a specialist hospital. She failed to tell me however, that this specialist eating disorder hospital would be an hour away from my home. She was out of the room for around half an hour, and during this time I sat in silence. I didn’t even look at my mother. She came over to me and tried to hug me. I pushed her away. She was horrible. She was putting me through this. It was her fault.
After an agonising wait, Susan came back into the room. She looked at me, she looked at my mum. She wasted no time in telling me the facts. There was no prancing around the subject. My BMI was below 13. I was going to hospital on Monday. I’d be there for however long was suitable. My mum wouldn’t be staying. I’d have to eat three meals, and three snacks per day. I would have to reach a suitable weight. And perhaps the worst thing of all. It was definite. I couldn’t stop it.
The weekend was not nice at all. I ate a yoghurt over the weekend and was plagued with guilt over those fifty calories. It was more than I NEEDED to have. My mum had given up trying to feed me anyway so why had I eaten it? I felt more of a failure than ever.
My hospital stay was most definitely the worst experience of my life, and I doubt anything will ever come close to it. It doesn’t even bare thinking about. Needless to say, I started off on a very small meal plan. When I was first admitted I was only expected to eat around 500 calories a day however this increased and by the time I’d been in around a month I was chowing down over 3000 calories a day. In all honesty, I looked forward to meal times. Id denied myself food so much, denied my body the nourishment it needed for so long that actually being forced to eat the food was not too bad. It was after my meals that I felt the worst. I felt as though with each meal I ate, I gained three pounds. If it wasn’t for the fact we had to sit in a meeting after every time we ate, I’m sure my exercising would have continued, and in fact, increased. Every week I gained the required amount, and sometimes more. However when I was eventually allowed weekend visits home, my weight often dipped or maintained. Despite the fact I wasn’t managing to meet my meal plan at home, I was discharged with a BMI of just over 15. My outpatient team were keen to get me out as hospital was making my mood incredibly low and they were afraid of depression kicking in. My mum wasn’t too thrilled at the fact I’d been let out at such a low weight however I assured her I wouldn’t go back down hill. Initially after being discharged from outpatients, I was determined to lose weight. I tried everything I could, without my mum getting too suspicious. But she was extremely constant and wouldn’t let me dip. She knew that if I missed out my morning snack, I’d miss out my morning snack the next day too. And she was aware of the fact that when I wanted to swap my pudding for fruit, this fruit would soon be non existant. This helped me and her persistence was a good thing. I didn’t feel as though I was completely to blame for me eating when I didn’t deserve too. For a long while after I was discharged I felt as though I had experienced my phase of eating and that should be it. I shouldn’t have to eat again. I didn’t do anything with my life, to deserve to eat. My eating pattern when I came out was more routined than it had ever been. I was eating breakfast, snack, lunch,, snack, tea and supper. I didn’t resort back to my sit ups but if I didn’t go out for at least one hours walking a day I felt incredibly guilty and would often end up frustrated and in tears over the most simple of things. This didn’t happen too often though as I would be out walking in rain or shine, or in my case, thunder, lightening, extreme fog and snow. I continued to see my outpatient team at least twice a week. When I returned to school I had to go to a special classroom and eat my lunch with somebody from the clinic who would come in and “support” me. I hated this. I especially hated it when my teachers would nip in and out of the classroom to “get a folder” or “pick up some essays”. I felt as though they were simply spying on me and would think I was greedy when they saw me stuffing myself with my huge lunch. I was required to get weighed once a week, and for the first two months I did gain enough each week to boost my BMI up to around 16.5 however after this I started to maintain. I hadn’t particulary cut anything out of my diet. In fact, I lie. I had. The yoghurts which had once been creamy and chocolatey had turned to a small pot of low fat yoghurt and the cakes and biscuits for snacks had become a lower calorie option of fruit and yoghurt. I wasn’t loosing weight though so I was incredibly scared to up in my intake. I maintained my weight for around 6 months after. Throughout this time I was still withdrawn from my friends and although I was closer to my family, I still got panicked by busy family occasions and parties. I was sticking to my routine and wouldn’t eat a single calorie more than I was “expected” too.
I began to get lectured though about my weight. I didn’t have my period and so my body wasn’t healthy. Around May 2009 is when I started to “binge”. I’m not overly sure if it would be classified as a binge though as it was more that I starved all day and then stuffed myself full at night. I would begin eating around 7pm and wouldn’t stop until midnight. I don’t have any reasoning for it. I initially though that it was because I hated having food in me throughout the day, but then, I’d had that sensation for over a year now and had become used to it. Looking back, I think I was boredom eating. My social life didn’t exist and I could busy myself during the day with daytime tv, shopping, school and going for walks. However when night time came around I was bored. I had nothing to do. And so I found myself eating, constantly. It was always the same things I ate every night. In the same order. At the same time. I dreaded the time coming where id have to gorge myself silly, but similarly I looked forward to it. This continued for long time. All throughout my holiday to turkey. Although in July 2009 when I did go on a family holiday to Turkey with my family, I managed to eat a bit better. By this time my weight had gone up and my bmi sat at just below 18. Things continued this way for a while. I continued to see my outpatient team once a week and got weight. My weight seemed to fluctuate quite a bit but I always sat around a bmi of 18. I hated my body. Deep down I knew that I couldn’t be obese, I weighed less than (most) of my friends did and I wore a smaller size of clothes than the majority of them, but still, when I looked in the mirror I saw someone who could do with loosing a stone. I hated not being able to rely on my ability not to eat to make me feel better. During the summer when I received my exam results, I was elated when I got straight A’s. I felt like I could do something with my life and I felt as though I wasn’t as stupid and useless as I thought. I was motivated to work to the future and do something about my life. However, only the day after this, my mood was back to its usual, and I was again gorging at night, and starving throughout the day. I was unhappy, but couldn’t do anything about it.
I had managed for over a year after being discharged from hospital to stay an acceptable weight. Although it was still classified as underweight I was allowed to maintain as my periods came back in the summer of 2009. I didn’t look thin anymore and this scared me each and every day. In Novemeber 2009, something in my brain switched, and it wasn’t for the better. I cut down my calories, a lot. I only managed to go for two weeks eating 300 calories a day before my mum noticed and demanded extra support from my outpatient team. I have no idea what had changed in my mind. Looking back, I was having trouble at school. I’d always been top of the class and regularly got the top marks in the class (not to boast guys..ahh I sound such a big head here!!), however I was beginning to struggle. I found myself falling behind and the homework and course work was getting on top of me. The only thing I felt I could do right was to not eat. I don’t know WHAT part of my brain thought this was a good idea and the way forward, but a part of it did, and this is the part of my brain that I stupidly decided to follow. In this time I lost quite a bit of weight. It wasn’t overly noticeable as it was mainly water weight, however my mum noticed and was incredibly worried. I was then threatened with readmission to hospital despite the fact I wasn’t an extremely low weight. I felt even worse when I was told “your face still looks really healthy”. I was plagued with the image in my head that I had a massive, chubby, fat face, which in my mind could only = a huge, chubby, fat body. The night after the appointment I sat with my mum for an hour as she tried to force a jam sandwich down me. This was the same jam sandwich (well not the EXACT same one..) that I had shoved down my face only a month ago, which I then followed with another sandwich and a bowl of cereal. I don’t know why it was so hard. The final straw was when my mum tried to shove it down my throat. I grabbed it from her and squashed it and threw it in the bin. She then went and made me another one. The devil in my head managed to come to a compromise. Instead of eating the sandwich, id eat a yoghurt, which in my head, I knew was over 100 calories less than the bread snack she wanted me to eat.
Over the Christmas period I struggled. Despite eating very little my weight crept back up to over 17 again and settled there for a while. I was eating minimal yet my body was in starvation mode so was maintaining and wasn’t loosing. I felt horrible. I felt it was my body’s way of telling me I didn’t need to eat. This didn’t last overly long though and by January I was back to my starving all day, binge eating at night. I’d occasionally go completely overboard and it would turn into a proper binge and these times made my mood incredibly low. My weight maintained at a bmi of around 17.5 to 18. It was only around a month ago, mid may 2010 that I began to eat during the day. I’m eating a very minimal amount of calories, half the amount someone my age should eat but at the moment my weight is maintaining. I’m not sure what my bmi/weight is at the moment as I’m too scared to step on the scales but I know for a fact that I’m not loosing weight. Basically, I’m stuck in a rut. I’m not eating very much. It seems as though I’m eating loads and I’m eating sufficient because I’m eating at regular periods however the calories are not NEARLY enough to be sufficient to keep me going at my age. The thing is, if I up my calories at all I’ll gain weight and I’m incredibly scared of this happening. I don’t NEED to gain weight. I’m allowed to be this weight. I have my periods and everything. But I know I cant continue on this low intake forever. It will stop me doing so much. I guess I just need advice!
I decided to start a blog as I think it could help me. I will probably post a few times a week, but I don’t know if anybody will read it so I’ll just see how things go. I’m really interested in changing my eating habits and experimenting and changing the way and things I eat, which seem to be the same every day. I’d love to get to know people on here!
Lots of love xxxx