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.

Returning from the irreversible

There were many things I have told myself I would never do. I never thought I would let myself gain weight, but I have been physically recovered from anorexia for two years now. I never thought I would self harm, but now I have a body covered in the scars of my self-destruction. I never thought I would call myself a suicide attempt survivor, but now that is part of my story too.

I can’t bear to write this elegantly, but eloquence is in my nature. I never thought it would be an unfortunate trait for a writer, until it comes to a topic like this.

It was both eerily calm and satisfying, but horrific and terrifying. There was numbness. There was defeat, as I stared at the stars and listened to the waves; I always said if I was to die, it would be at the beach. Then there were sirens. And a frantic friend. Rough hands, broad shoulders, deep voices and a gurney. 

White walls, unbearably white walls, and a hard chair to sit in, and wait as the overdose kicked in. I began smashing my head against the wall as if that could smash the thoughts from my brain – unsurprisingly this achieved very little. I shouted and screamed and pushed my friend away – all this earned me was heavy sedation. 

The aftermath though. The relentless questions. As if there was a deeper reason behind my suicide attempt. I told them over and over and over, but still they questioned. They didn’t believe. It’s just like always. People don’t ever believe how much power she holds over my still. 

I told them the truth. I told them that I can’t bear to live in this body anymore, that it disgusts me, and there were too many memories in my head from before, and I wanted all of the bullshit to disappear.

Apparently, that answer isn’t good enough.

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.

Some Struggles of Late

Not sleeping. 

Not eating properly. 

Discovering alcohol. Which, as it turns out, makes me 1) not sleep, and 2) suppresses my appetite. So it’s both a problem (because I’m more exhausted than ever) and a solution (because I don’t want to eat anyway).

Self-harming to punish myself for not eating properly and discovering alcohol. My body is scarred. And finally, I look down and there’s a flickering thought that maybe I didn’t deserve that, at least not all of that. But I shake that thought away. I remind myself that I’m a bad person, and I deserve to be punished, and because I’m not strong enough to kill myself, I just need to hurt and desecrate myself as much as possible instead.

Exams. Wow, so before I had like a support system and stuff, because I had nothing else to do with my life, all of my energy – and I mean, all – went to studying. But now, people want to, like, see me because they, apparently, like me, and suddenly I’m not studying as much as I would like, even though it’s still more than almost everyone else I’m comparing myself too. And exams are less than a month away, and sure I’ll be fine, but also I need the best possible marks I can achieve if I’m going to be a doctor at the end of all this, and that means every quiz, every 1% assessment, counts. Why can’t people understand this? I’m a perfectionist. Anything that’s not a high distinction doesn’t count. And if I manage a HD, rather than being proud, I berate myself for that 10%, 7%, 1%, I could have gotten, I should have gotten, if I’d just tried a little harder, stupid piece of shit.

Grades that aren’t high distinctions. Because of the whole perfectionist-needs-perfect-grades-and-by-perfect-I-mean-exactly-100% thing. I got 66% in a tiny assessment last week and it absolutely shattered me. I mean, really and truly shattered. It triggered a week of self-harming and re-instigated that good ol’ restrict-binge-purge cycle that’s so dear to my heart.

Failing friendships. Failing to reach out. Failure.

Struggling to maintain any sense of okay-ness while my head reminds me how fat, ugly, worthless, stupid and useless I am, and always will be. Being unable to get across to others the truth that those adjectives hold to me, and feeling misunderstood as a result.

Waking up and immediately thinking “What a good day to die”. 

Be prepared for a long chat if you ask how things have been lately. Maybe get an ambulance on standby too.

(This post practically oozes with anger, isn’t it delicious?)

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.

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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.

 

Finally Learning to Self Advocate

I saw my psychiatrist today. And for the first time since I started seeing any mental health professional (we’re talking a span of years), I didn’t leave angry at myself. I left satisfied. I left feeling like I’m actually going to get somewhere – even though I’m sick, even though I’m struggling, even though I’m an anxious mess engaging in eating disorder behaviours here there and everywhere, I was able to speak. 

I said what has been on my mind since I started to read the DSM 5.

I asked if I had bipolar disorder, and BPD, and depression, and anxiety. And PTSD at some stage. And bulimia. I asked if that was even possible.

And he said yes. 

Finally, a mental health professional actually confirmed what I have known for a long, long time. And he will pass it on to everybody else who provides support for me – or tries to anyway.

Maybe it’s a bad thing. Maybe it also confirms that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, which is a belief I’ve held for a similar amount of time. Maybe it just confirms that I’m struggling, and will be for a while, and that’s something I will just have to accept.

But it’s also a great thing. I no longer have to squeak out in the emergency room that I self harm because I’m depressed. That I’m experiencing suicidal thoughts and feel unsafe. I can self advocate. I can say: I have trouble regulating my emotions. I can say: I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety; self harm and my eating disorder are like symptoms of those underlying difficulties that I haven’t been able to face for so, so long. I can say: call my psychiatrist if you have there’s an issue.

Something else I’m proud of? I stopped seeing that doctor who told me I couldn’t be depressed because I wasn’t failing (aka a naturally intelligent perfectionist with unrelenting high standards who couldn’t fail a test if she literally tried). She also used to grab my arms where I self harmed and told me to stop doing it because she didn’t like it. She also used the word “slashing”. So I found a new doctor. And she is understanding, and supportive, and best of all, doesn’t tell me I can’t possibly be depressed because my marks are too good.

I’m finally, finally, after almost a fucking decade learning to self-advocate. It feels fucking amazing.