suicide glow up

Turns out I look my most radiant after two suicide attempts in two weeks.

Whoops.

My existential crises continue to pile on top of one another and still, still, my eating disorder is somehow not a valid thing to kill myself over?

What about when I sob into the carpet over the calories in the two carrots I ate today? What about when I force the hunger out of my body with more and more exercise, until I am beyond empty, and so tired that I stop feeling it? What about the low blood pressure that gets ruled off as inconsequential, and the sudden arrhythmias that strike at my most stressed, but don’t dissipate for days? What about the scars on my body, traversing my forearms and thighs and calves, scars that say I deserve to be punished. I must do better? What about when I would literally rather die than exist?

I can’t exist in this body. I can’t exist in this fleshy form that takes up too much space. I can’t exist alongside Ana anymore – I’ve given up fighting. I tried drowning her out with cough syrup (much, much more cough syrup) and a shit ton of alcohol and the best thing to come out of it is that it made me throw up a lot. Which is nice as a bulimic with an intolerable gag reflex ordinarily unable to purge.

(Yes, I’m still bulimic. No, I do not vomit. Yes, there is more than one way to have an eating disorder. No, I will not be taking questions… but, yes, I have written about that elsewhere on the blog.)

I’m so done with this. I don’t want to be here anymore. My exams in anatomy and neurophysiology (two subjects I adore) are next week and I feel about as prepared as a teabag thrown in cold water still expected to brew a strong cuppa. Not much, in other words.

I’m so done with being eloquent. I’m saving it for my book. Which, UPDATE, I have completed the first draft of and sent off to a bunch of niche Australian publishers in the hope someone picks it up. Would anyone appreciate a sneak peek?

Whatever, I’m out of words. Seeya never.

A Surge of Urges

The urges rattle my bones as if there were an earthquake beneath my skin. Clenched fists hang at my sides as if the harder I press my fingernails into my palms, the easier it will be to win this fight. The thought consumes me: to cut or not to cut?

That is the only question. There is no alternative that rises in my mind despite the DBT skills that I’m supposed to apply at times like these. What’s the point? What’s one more scar? Or two? Or a smattering?

As usual, the trigger is food. Not the good food that I’m supposed to nourish my body with, my temple of a body, but the naughty, banned, bad foods that Ana forbids me to eat. Sugar coats my lips and fat sings as it touches my tastebuds.

I’m binging. I’ve binged.

I dissociate, and it’s over.

I sit on the floor, slumped, surrounded by crumbs and packaging. I don’t remember buying the bad foods, I avoid doing so for this exact reason, yet here we are anyway. I have failed.

And failure requires punishment.

I can hear the sharps vibrating nearby; they call to me. The stainless steel sings. I try not to listen, but these tools are like sirens and it is inevitable that I give in.

I do.

Red scatters across my skin, warm, but painless. I see beyond the first layer – that pesky epidermis – and I go further. I see the fat below the skin, and my hand lingers. My weapon lingers. Do I dare go a little deeper? It’s not good enough, she whispers. It’s not deep enough. You haven’t done it properly, you’ve just failed at something else. Do it again. 

I try not to listen but before I know it red has been flicked across the carpet and my sheets, and trickles down my thighs and my fingertips. I groan, and rest my head in my hands.

These pesky urges.

They just won’t leave me alone.

A Small Win – in your face Ana!

Tonight should have been a binge night.

See, everything was going well until I successively broke three of Ana’s most important rules:

  1. Eating after breakfast before I was hungry
  2. Eating a non-lunch food for lunch (in this case, leftover veggie nachos)
  3. Baking, and eating not one, but two muffins, again before I was hungry.

It was looking like a bad day. Motivation was low, my head was full of thoughts, my brain was scattered. The epic list of study I was hoping to smash out left barely touched. After breaking rule 3, I jumped on my bike for an exercise purge. One and a half hours of cycling, finding the steepest hills around of course, and another half hour of weights at the gym. To make sure everything was okay. To make sure I could be hungry again. To make sure Ana was satisfied, and I was allowed to eat my next meal. I had to double check the numbers three times to make sure I was safe again now.

So Ana quietened.

But I still felt down. The day seemed to pass both infinitely slowly and extremely quickly, which probably means I dissociated the day away. Somehow it was late, and I ate dinner, and went back to my desk for another round of attempted study. (My problem isn’t even external distractions – its thoughts, and dissociation, and emotional distress. All of which sucks, because once I get into the groove of it, I actually love studying. I love the process of learning, and I love what I’m learning about.)

I started to feel productive and then my progress was interrupted.

I still broke three rules… and if I’ve broken three today, then why not break some more? Thus began the spiral down the rabbit hole. Where was the closest pizza place? Ice cream place? Supermarket? How did delivery work (I’ve never done it before)? Oh, a $30 minimum? A 60 minute wait? No worries. Which one was the worst for me, which one would generate the most disgust, shame and repulsion? Which one would most likely lead to self-harming, and to releasing all this hurt?

And I don’t even know why my brain decided that this moment was a great moment to suddenly switch its circuitry, but I walked to the nearest shopping centre, and I bought a single ice cream cone. And I licked it slowly, and pushed the ice cream down with my tongue like I did when I was little, so that it went all the way to the bottom. I enjoyed the sensation of goose bumps in and out and realised that winter is the ideal time to consume ice cream because it won’t melt all over the place. Crucial, considering Sydney is hot – or at least it will be, in a few months.

I didn’t buy a tub of ice cream, and eat it all with a spoon. I didn’t waste money on binge food to feel guilty over later. I didn’t punish myself more, or send myself into another self-harm / restrict / binge / purge cycle. I bought one ice cream. I ate it. It was fucking great. I don’t regret it. Take that Ana. It’s a small win, but it’s still a win nonetheless.

She’s creeping in

There.

Just there.

A little more to the left. Shift slightly upwards.

There.

Did you see that?

I can count every rib.

Wait. No, there’s some missing. There’s too many missing.

There. Just. there. A little to the right, a little to the left. The light is in the wrong place now, and I’ve lost them. They no longer exist. If I can’t find them, even if it’s because the light is wrong, then it’s because they don’t exist.

Lately, my ribs have reappeared. I’m surprised, and relieved, and also excited. It fills me with warmth to see some bones again. Looking down at my wrists, I can see that they’re approaching thinness again, but then I look upwards at my arms and they don’t have quite the concave shape I’m after, and neither does my stomach. There’s no space between my thighs, but at least we’ve dropped a size. Step onto the scales, and then off again – because they’re lying – and then back on and back off before I realise it’s not me that’s broken, it’s the scales, so it’s off to buy a better set, a more advanced set, the kind that determines your fat percentage for you. That obsessive tic has returned, the sideways glance in every reflective surface (I’ve gained weight today), the wrap around the wrist to double check it’s the same width, and if not, then that’s the kind of motivation I need to do better. I take out the clothes I’ve kept specifically for this purpose, to measure my progress back towards my goal, and they still don’t fit the way I like. Deep breath, it’s okay, that just means only coffee today. I slump to the floor in a sudden spell of dizziness and glance at the dark circles in the mirror. I shake when I sleep because my body wants me to eat.

I ignore it.

I only indulge in food twice a day if I can resist the temptation, and if it comes to a third, then it will be once the following day. Nothing processed here, only wholefoods, and if it comes from a packet, then only ingredients I know and can pronounce.

And slowly, she gets louder. Good. Look at us go! Look at our progress! You’re doing so well!

And lately, when I make an inevitable mistake – too much cheese, too much yoghurt, one too many bites, there she is again. Stupid fat fucking bitch worthless useless bitch just go kill yourself you deserve it you don’t deserve life you deserve to be punished fat stupid worthless bitch do it just do it just do it useless ugly disgusting piece of shit. 

And I listen. Because I’m a good girl, and I listen to authority, and in these moments, Ana is my authority.

IMG_0123

Anorexic is not an adjective

This week, I saw something that frustrated me.

It frustrated me to the point of ‘borderline rage’, the kind that hasn’t consumed me for a long time, and the impulsivity that accompanies this. In this case, the impulsive act didn’t cause much corporeal damage – I posted a long, deeply personal post via Facebook. The outcome was that I felt more hurt than I had to begin with, and guilty, and sad, and nostalgic for Ana, and everything that I left behind when I recovered. Anyway.

The topic which frustrated me is a topic which has been in the media so much lately, too much. It is a topic dear to my heart, too dear. It is a topic that is being promoted, and that disgusts me. And yes, despite being weight restored, despite fulfilling the psychiatric definition of “recovered”, the anorexic behaviours, thought patterns, distortions, obsessions and compulsions still consume me.

Anorexic is not an adjective. And it is one used as such too often, by people who don’t understand, “celebrities” like the Kardashians, who have the reach to make real change, but are instead the ones blocking the way. It doesn’t matter who you are: you do not get to joke about an illness you have never experienced, an illness which takes more lives than any other. In fact, the more famous you are, the greater your capacity to create change by not stigmatising the illness any more than it already has been. I’m not one to “keep up” with these particular ladies, but what they said amongst themselves hurt me. It hurt me because they joked over an illness that nearly killed me. It hurt me because they joked over the mental illness with the highest mortality rate of them all.

Anorexic is not an adjective. Anorexic is being hypothermic in summer, and collapsing from exhaustion every night. It’s losing your childhood, your womanhood, your friends, and laughter, and smiles. It’s looking at your reflection and counting bones from your clavicles to your hips but believing you still need to lose weight. It’s yellow skin and a gaunt face and sunken eyes and hair that falls out as you stroke it. It’s wearing children’s clothes because nothing else will fit. It’s being controlled by numbers and calories and food and weight and exercise and a voice in your head that compels you to behave in certain ways, all whilst maintaining a facade of control that you yourself still believe to be true – even as this control spirals away like the soup you’ve been pouring down the drain. It’s hiding beneath baggy clothes, and a web of lies so intricate that a single breath could cause the whole system to come crashing down. It’s eating a single cracker, and punishing yourself for days and days or crying over a carrot that you’re being forced to eat. It’s narrowly avoiding hospital admission by convincing yourself and your doctor that you’re fine, that everything is fine, that nothing is wrong, despite the fainting, the collapsing, the low blood pressure and the anaemias, and the messed up hormone counts and missed periods and reversal of puberty that you brought upon yourself. Being anorexic means having a life cemented in obsessionality and despair and anxiety over the smallest changes to a rigid routine. 

Being anorexic means never being quite enough: not thin enough, good enough, smart enough. Just never enough. Being anorexic means giving up your life, physically, emotionally and mentally; and for some, even literally.

Anorexic is not an adjective. So please, don’t use it like one.

 

Starvation: the all-too familiar sensation

This sensation claws at my chest, crawls inside my belly, and shivers beneath my hands, an internal shaking that I cannot cease. It’s relentless, and stronger than my heartbeat, stronger than every intake of breath. Clinging to counter tops, resting on chairs, nodding the wooziness away, headaches and brain fog and heart murmurs that don’t recede, and an overwhelming exhaustion, fatigue deeper than my flesh – this is the sensation of starvation.

It returns to me, like an old friend that I once cherished, and parted ways with. Alas, this friend returned without invitation, without so much as a warning, and has squeezed her way back into my life. Ana returns, gnawing at my sides like the growling of my belly. She whispers to me, how much better these jeans would look if you were thinner. How much more they would appreciate you, if you were thinner. How much more they would notice you, if only. you. were thinner.

She whispers to me, praises me, for what I have done. This is how it’s supposed to be, she says. It’s supposed to be constant. Can’t you feel the weight slipping? Can’t you feel that I’m winning? 

And every time she whispers these words, that voice only grows, and multiplies. It only takes a small stumble to lose yourself in a crevasse.

But you need to be exercising as well, she adds. It’s not enough to be hungry before eating again, but you need to be beyond hungry, you need to be starving. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve restricted quite so severely, and for this long. It is both familiar and unwanted. These pathways – the starvation pathways, the rituals and routines and obsessions – were fixed for five years. They are not difficult to find myself slipping back into.

And I can’t even bring myself to care.

I miss my eating disorder – my real eating disorder, not this disgusting bulimia that has taken it’s place. I miss bones and my old body and I miss being thin. I miss the call of death, the oh so close call of death. I miss Ana. I miss anorexia.

There are lots of aspects to this monster that I don’t miss, the things that I couldn’t bear to return to, the things that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody. But I’m ignoring them. My judgement is clouded by her, and her only.

Because if I just listened, Ana would make things right.

So this will continue. And my pants will continue to loosen. My bones will continue to re-emerge. Finally, she will return, starvation will return, and everything will be okay again, because everything will finally be right.