Groundhog Day. It’s a film that so many people have seen, a popular film that for so long I hadn’t seen. I finally watched it a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Watching films is difficult at times, my attention span isn’t very good these days. If you aren’t familiar with the film you’ll at least be familiar with the concept. Every day being the same as the last. Well, that’s very true of my life as it stands, and as it has stood for a very long time now. I’ve been masking the truth of course.
Things are taking a serious nose dive right now. I’ve been in limbo for a long time, in a rut. I’ve danced to the tune of my eating disorder. We’d kinda done a deal, reached an agreement, and I’d stuck to my side of the bargain. I personify my illness, it allows me to cope with it better. A lot of sufferers do, and that’s ok. The first time I heard someone actually name it I was horrified and didn’t get it, I do now. If you can give it character it gives you something to take aim at, it gives you something to hate. Sadly, it also gives you something to talk to, to reason with, but it also gives it a voice. Sometimes that voice is loud. At the moment it’s the loudest voice there is.
Groundhog Day has, at times, been interspersed with nice things. The odd gig here (Paramore, Ricky Ross, Katherine Ryan) and, of course, the football. On those days the deals made are tricky. Ever tougher regimes in order to make up for the fact that I will need strength to get through those occasions. Strength means food. Tougher days follows those. Swings and roundabouts, but I have to have some break from the Groundhog. What I haven’t realised, until the past few weeks, is that the eating disorder has slowly been gaining an upper hand. The deal has been getting changed, it’s got stricter.
If you follow me on Twitter you see me masking a truth. I probably come across as quite content. You’re aware of my issues but I seem positive, at least I think I do. I talk about my baking and the Battling Baker project. I’m always posting things about what I’ve baked. You might think I am eating that stuff. No. I try bits, but it’s never more than a pinch. The truth. That was the aim, but the ED slammed that plan hard. Not that i’ll give up. My passion is too great, and one day, maybe, I’ll swallow more than a sparrow’s beak amount and not walk it off afterwards.
I find it hard to say all this on Twitter, or to anyone in fact. People ask sometimes. “How are you?” I almost dread the question because I WILL tell people if they ask, but when I do I hate that I’m saying it. I hate that I’m writing this now but I need to get it out there. Also, I hate that I have nowhere to turn. That’s the thing – I don’t have the help, I don’t have the therapy and I don’t actually have the means to ask anymore.
So how bad is it? Wolves played Birmingham City on 15th April. I ate a meal that day. I’ve eaten 4 other meals since then. It’s 10th May now. Other than that I’ve had an average of 2 of my own “rescue” biscuits per day to keep myself vertical. Yes, I’ve lost weight. No numbers – I know it’s not good to write that stuff down. What I will say is that the eating disorder tells me that in order to have the next meal I must be X weight, each time the X number must be lower than the time before I ate last. No amount of fighting from me stops the relentless attack mentally if I even try and break it.
I’ll tell you one story. It was the last home game of the season. I’d planned this. I wanted fish & chips. MAJOR for someone with my issue. Deal was done. HARD week before, but the figure the eating disorder set was reached. All the way home it tried HARD to talk me out of it, but I’d stuck to my side of the deal. I was doing it, even if I only managed half. By the time I got to the fish & chip shop I was already “talked” into only having small fish & chips rather than standard. OK, I was backtracking but at least I was doing SOMETHING. I was in a cold sweat going into that shop. It was so hard. There was a wait for the fish, they had sold out. Instant panic. Just wait it out, it was ok. 3 minutes passed. 5 minutes passed. My head was SCREAMING. I began to cry. Not just hidden sobs, this was proper crying. In a shop full of people waiting for fish to cook. I kept my head down but people noticed. I wish I’d run out but I didn’t. 10 minutes it took. The woman handed it over and apologised for the delay, maybe thinking my distress was over that. I thanked her, said it was ok and ran out of the shop. I’ll never go there again. I can never face that ordeal again. I ate half the meal. I’d wanted to enjoy it, it was marred.
Groundhog Day is more frequent now. The football is over until mid August. I have a week holiday at the end of June and that’s all there is to break it up. The deal for that is too severe to put down, but I am going to try hard to make that week as good as I can. However, things are SO bad at the moment. One meal a week is making me very ill. I have developed acute tendonitis in my left arm that starts in my shoulder and goes right into my wrist. Physio would help, but without muscle to build up strength won’t be very effective. Food will help build muscle. So the cycle continues.
I sit here this morning and I know I haven’t hit where ED says I can have a meal. I probably will tomorrow. HOORAY. Mum goes on holiday for two weeks. Two weeks I probably won’t see anyone, although I believe someone I have got to know on Twitter is popping in for a coffee on one of the days. The hardest thing in all this is the lack of support from the people who are meant to help. I can’t ask for ED services help now because they have said they will only help if I do their day treatment therapy. Well, if you read my previous post on that you will know I am in no place to be able to engage with it. There ARE other alternatives but they will just NOT entertain it. I can’t discuss it with my CPN because they don’t deal with eating disorders and have no experience. Psychotherapy team won’t engage until I’m eating. I can’t go private because I can’t afford it. I’m trapped.
Sometimes I sit here and I wonder what the escape route is. Do I just exist like this? Is there a way out? Sometimes there’s a dark answer and it seems a light one.
When I try and fight, when I look at my life as it was (the good bits) and fight for that, the power of this illness really does show its grip. That’s how I know just how ill I am. Yesterday, whilst out walking, I was listening to a song by Anne-Marie. She sang about not caring how she looks, about eating her body weight in chocolate, about loving herself for who she is, about being comfortable in her own skin, about loving herself for her. Suddenly I thought “yes, why am I being trapped like this? Who am I doing this for? Why don’t I like myself?” I started to fight a little. SLAM. Suddenly my couple of miles around the block became a lot longer. I was put in my place. I’m so ill.
So, the masking. It really is a mask. This is the truth. I’m REALLY struggling. I hate it. I want a way out and I can’t find it.
I’m sorry this isn’t more positive. I can’t keep masking. This is my hell.
This post very much follows on from my last blog entry but amends the idea for now. This follows feedback from a book publisher and subsequent thoughts about how best to tackle things. This is especially as, on one hand I’m making tiny little baby steps and, on the other, I’m getting battered by anorexia for even giving it a go. The site is aptly called The Battling Baker and can be found at www.thebattlingbaker.com
The publisher feedback was a reality check, a positive one but one I had not considered. In principle they would have been interested IF I had already been ‘recovered’ or, at least, sufficiently in control of my condition. However, they felt it wouldn’t have been in my best interests to go forward with it until such a time as I was confident that this was the case in order to deal with the pressures that might come with the book being published. An older version of me might have taken this quite badly, but I actually took this with dignity and totally agree. If I can get to a better place this could still happen – and that would be a celebration on so many levels. Also, it reminds me not to rush. True recovery needs time, and as I am learning already, this really will be a long, hard road. I’m not calling myself the battling baker for nothing.
However, I really wanted to share a part of what I am doing. I wanted to share my recipes and a little of the journey I am taking. I don’t want to say too much about the battle itself, that wouldn’t be good for those that are struggling themselves and I realise sometimes I say too much anyway. However, I want people to try my recipes! So, in a condensed form of what exactly I’m doing I decided to launch The Battling Baker. Now I can share my recipes, people will know that I’m fighting because I’m only going to post what I’ve created and tried, and people might just try the recipes out themselves. THAT will give me a massive boost! I know for a fact that bakers/cooks/chefs love nothing more than to hear from people who have tried out their recipes and loved them. So if you try mine – tell me (unless you hate them, then just file it under ‘bin’ and try a different one. They won’t all be bad. Promise).
So that’s it – The Battling Baker. Pop & have a look. Get your apron on. Get a bowl. A wooden spoon. A tin. And…..ready, set, BAKE!! (apologies to The Great British Bake Off).
Finally, it’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week this coming week. I hope that people will really engage with all the media activity that is bound to come and share things on social media. It’s important that we keep pushing for the important matters; things like early intervention in the treatment of ED’s and the right level of funding from central government. I might be doing this alone now (no comment) but I still recognise that the NHS works well for a great many people, it’s only right that they are given the funding they need to do it effectively for all. It’s also important that the public realise just how serious eating disorders are for those of us that suffer. Power, love & strength to all of you that struggle – I’m by your side even in my own darkness. x