So… as a mental health blogger, I have always alluded to the fact I have experiences of mental health issues but haven’t been fully open about it all. It just wasn’t the right time and I think there’s always a right time for these kind of things, and that seems like now. Plus, it’s a chance to let my friends know where I’m going to be for the next month and a half.
I’ve decided that being a human can be tricky, there’s no manual that lets you know how to deal with different situations and sometimes it would be really lovely if there was something to refer back to when times are hard. I’ve developed some rather maladaptive coping mechanisms over the years and it’s surprising to see how quickly the odd things you do every now and again can catch up with you. It can take a while before you think your little quirks are actually turning into a bit of a problem.
I hate labels with an almighty burning passion. I think, especially for my variety of maladaptiveness, a label can be something that burdens you. I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable criteria of disordered eating. It’s interesting that when you have a difficulty with food, the thing that becomes key to whether you’re going to receive support and treatment is your BMI. Now if I ruled the world, BMI could go and die in a hole, BMI is a stupid measure! It doesn’t take into account muscle mass and hydration, whether you’ve peed or not… and above all it doesn’t measure anything within your head. The key to an eating disorder is that in reality it’s nothing about food or weight at all. The food behaviours and weight changes are a symptom of an underlying problem… whether that’s control, low self esteem, OCD… anything really. It makes me cross that the system we currently have relies on people being very poorly and underweight to receive the right treatment, I think treatment should start early and work to help people BEFORE they reach that point… but I suppose that’s an argument for another time.
So… I went from worrying a little about my weight, to being totally encompassed mentally and physically with an eating disorder. One of the ways I’ve tried to describe it to friends, family and professionals before is like that kind of conscience feeling when you leave the house and you know you’ve forgotten something; that feeling deep in your stomach that something is amiss but you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be. Well imagine that but the only way you can get rid of it is to place all of your self worth on what you’re going to eat or not going to eat, what you weigh or should weigh or did weigh or will weigh… then imagine that feeling being the background of everything. That’s what it’s like to have an eating disorder… of course I’m just speaking for myself right now, everyone’s experiences are different. But I think it is quite common for eating disorders to become very overpowering, the illusion of control controls you. It’s like it’s the filter in which everything in life has to pass through. To be quite honest it’s exhausting.
Now my friends and family are bloody amazing! They’ve put up with my ‘battiness’ for such a long time and have just been there for me and loved me throughout it, something I can’t thank them enough for. I’m better than I was, but there’s still a long way for me to go to stop reverting to my coping mechanisms as soon as life seems a bit scary. So I’ve been offered a really amazing opportunity, to spend some time in an inpatient program to have some really intensive treatment… fingers crossed I’ll come out in 6 weeks and be a lot better than I am. I’m not content with being able to function WITH my eating disorder, I want to kick it’s arse and be done with it. I’m bored of being poorly now, I want my life back and I’ve got a hell of a lot to be looking forward to that just isn’t compatible with anorexia. So… starting on Monday 4th August, I’ll be hanging out in ‘food prison’ for 6 weeks… hopefully I’ll make the most of my little stint in rehab and come out and start the next chapter of my life with all the people I love and care about.
Before I finish I just want to dispel a few eating disorder myths that are just pants:
- Eating disorders are NOT just for white british teenage girls- anyone at any age and gender can be affected
- You don’t have to be visibly underweight to have an eating disorder- my rather distasteful joke has always been that I am a ‘fat anorexic’. You can be very poorly and outwardly still look ok. Weight is not a measure of how unwell someone is and is definitely not something you can use to tell if someone has an eating disorder
- Eating disorders are an illness and it’s not something to be ashamed of- I spent a long time feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t deal with food properly and that I wasn’t able to be ‘normal’. A massive part of me getting better has been to be able to be honest and say… actually I’m not ok, but I’m getting better.
- You don’t have to treat someone with an eating disorder differently, unless you fancy giving them extra love and hugs… thats totally ok! I’m still me, I’m just poorly right now, but I won’t be forever.
- Recovery is possible! And I’m going to do it!
I urge anyone who is worried about their eating to seek help as soon as they can and if you don’t get it, keep asking until you do. No-one deserves to be poorly!
Love Kate xx