BMI targets and stages of Anorexia recovery

Is it important to have a target weight in recovery?

Some people, professionals included, would say that the answer is yes. Those people argue that having a safe BMI is paramount to being physically safe (it’s all in the name) being able to think straight (should we say emotionally safer)  and having a healthy goal to aim for.

I can see the benefits of this but for me, the most important part of Eating Disorder recovery is recognising that Eating Disorder recovery is not about the numbers (or in fact about food) and if we adopt that strategy we are running the risk of feeding into the illness (Pardon the pun!)

How I see it, Eating Disorder recovery in which weight restoration is a factor is a staged process. This is how it was for me, obviously it might be different for others….

Stage 1

Committing to the idea of recovery and that weight restoration is a part of this picture. If you aren’t committed or open to the possibility, then you aren’t going to restore your weight or recover. Fact.

Stage 2

Tentative change. Small initial steps. Small goals.

Stage 3

Shifting your focus onto what a healthier body will give you. Reaching life and weight goals and hanging out there for a bit (or realising there will never be a time when it feels right and moving to…)

Stage 4

Re-committing to new goals; weight or otherwise.  Start building a different life for yourself. Start recognising that holding your weight at a particular place (healthy or otherwise) means that you have less flexibility to do the muddy, beautiful mess that is life.

Stage 5

Accepting the idea that weight is fluid, changeable and irrelevant to the person you are or are becoming. Reaching a healthy weight. Living, living and more living. Ups, downs and all the in-betweens.

 

It isn’t a linear process. I have to commit, re-commit and re-commit again and again. I move backwards and forwards between the stages. I get scared. I find courage from somewhere. I get scared all over again.

I am going for full recovery from this illness. It’s going to be a fight but one which I am committed (and have re-committed to on multiple occasions so far and expect to have to do so again!) to. My weight is irrelevant in this battle; but I am going to maintain a healthy BMI (There is no escaping this one) but I would also like to point out that I’ve been unwell at a healthy BMI so in short….

Recovery is so much more than BMI but you need for your body to be healthy. If having BMI goals helps you to take those first steps than go for it but at some point, if you feel brave enough and stable enough to let your body lead the way then take the leap. Life is better when you are free.

Love and hope,

Madasanegg

 

 

 

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BMI targets and stages of Anorexia recovery

Leaving Eating Disorder Inpatient Treatment

I have come a long way but I am not where I want to be.

I’m not ready to leave but I can’t stay here.

I want my life back  but what is my life going to look like?

I am petrified but I am excited. One minute I am high on the prospect of buying pegs, the next minute I’m crushingly low when I realise that I’m perched awkwardly bang smack in the middle of all of the things that made me sick in the first place.

Everything is new and with that comes moments of utter joy (think waking up to your cat licking your face and fresh PJ’s in YOUR OWN freshly made bed…..oh and purchasing pegs because you can hang your washing out these days) and utter panic (think the realisation that you and solely you are responsible for your life)

Leaving hospital is like having your roots firmly planted back in soil that has the potential to not give you the nourishment that you need. I’m not talking food here; I’m talking purpose and direction in life, close bonds and people that you can share your deepest darkest emotions, experiences and fears with; people that automatically ‘get it’ without you needing to start explaining from scratch.

You need to and have to (if you don’t want to live your life desperately unhappy) totally change the way you do everything. That can leave you feeling alone, incredibly anxious and overwhelmed whilst you try and juggle the practicalities of what you need to do whilst you….

Change how you deal with emotions. Change how much pressure you put on yourself. Change how you relate to yourself and others. Change the need to be strong and independent all the time and the reluctance to ask for help. Change how you talk to yourself (think you are bloomin on this girl/ you got this/ I think you need a bloomin break- the use of the word ‘bloomin’ is purely optional BUT….

Keeping up doing things differently, keeping up being gentle on yourself and taking your time to find new sources of nourishment in old soil ARE NOT OPTIONAL.

Yes, you can opt out of your meal plan and slip into behaviours that momentarily help. You can slide quickly or slowly back into an illness that sometimes seems to offer you the answers for life difficulties. You can do what you like (here comes that complete sense of panic again) If you get ill again the person it matters for is YOU. Do this for yourself. Try something new because the old got you to….well lets just say, the old didn’t get you wandering happily to a shop to buy pegs listening to 90’s cheesy pop with an utterly ridiculous grin on your face.

Love and hope for your journey,

Madasanegg Xx

 

Leaving Eating Disorder Inpatient Treatment

Relapse

If I was to weigh my sense of humour, I’m pretty certain that some of it will have slipped away; that the scale will weigh lighter than before. The eating disorder is back at full strength. I am relapsing and I cannot even be sure if I care. Or at least I don’t want to care.

But I do….

I don’t want to spend my time weighing cherry tomatoes.

I want to achieve something more worthwhile than laxative induced piles.

I want to eat a pea knowing that I will never see it again, hell I want to eat a whole portion of peas knowing I will never see them again.

I know zombie films are in but I want to look less like I died and accidentally carried on.

I want to be able to talk without fearing I am wafting sick fumes up peoples nostrils like smoke signals.

I want my smile back.

I want my smile back knowing that it isn’t being slowly erased by stomach acid and diet coke.

I want my sense of humour back.

I want to eat.

I want to live.

Relapse

Food for thought

Sometimes when I am sad I squirt barbecue sauce straight into my mouth. I don’t know what I expect this to achieve but it seems to be my default position. Barbecue sauce and the boiler cupboard. One or the other. Or heck, if things are really bad then I might even simultaneously seal myself in the boiler cupboard and feverishly consume barbecue sauce in the darkness. Multitasking at its finest.

When I think about it I am not sure I even like barbecue sauce.

But I don’t think about that at the time.

I’m pretty sure not thinking is exactly the point.

A long, long time ago in the days where I believed a Penguin was just a chocolate biscuit, 7 year old me discovered an ability which does not appear to have left me to this day. The ability to discreetly ingest an abnormally large amount of food and dispose of the wrappers down the side of the sofa or push them firmly into the soil of an unsuspecting flower pot.

Not that I do that these days. Abnormally large amount of food; yes. Wrappers buried beneath my cactus; no. And this isn’t just because I don’t own a cactus.

What I mean is that one thing stays the same. The secrecy. The shame. The “I appear to have eaten all of the edible items in my house” moment.

The word ‘binge’ is tinged with the taste of guilt. It is the sort of word which I find hard not to whisper. The sort of word that brings with it loud and difficult questions.

Where has all the cheese gone? Don’t you realise I have other children to feed? Why is there a collection of Penguin wrappers gathered under my chrysanthemum?

I shy away from the years I have spent eating away the emotions I just can’t deal with. I hide them out of sight.

Over the last 10 years I have fitted myself neatly into more of the ‘categories’ of weight and eating disorder diagnoses than I care to admit. I have moved between them. Backwards and forwards. Over and over.

Binge eating. That’s where I rest now. A potent and private world of self-disgust and hatred. Feelings which I felt I could ‘solve’ if only I could stop. I stopped. I starved myself instead. It didn’t go.

After years of different eating disorders, different labels and different words; each attempting to describe the chain which links food and emotion in my mind, I have decided that that they aren’t so different after all. You feed yourself too little- you aren’t looking after yourself. You feed yourself too much- you aren’t looking after yourself. So why do we beat ourselves up? If you ask me regularly and silently filling yourself up with food to the point that your stomach feels like it’s going to burst, to the point that you want to cry or to the point that you don’t even taste the food you are eating; that isn’t something to give yourself a hard time over.

Each time when I find myself in the boiler cupboard with only a newly empty bottle of barbecue sauce for company, there is very little else to do other than say out loud “default position” and have a laugh at myself. I stand up brush myself down and wander into the bathroom and run myself a warm bath. Sometimes I binge. That’s OK. It has to be because I’m not ready to stop. Beating myself up more isn’t going to help. I’ve done that enough already….

After all, I’m not even sure I like barbecue sauce.

Food for thought

A puzzle induced epiphany

Puzzle induced epiphanies aren’t an everyday occurrence in my life but today, sitting on the floor putting a particularly difficult puzzle together I had one. Or rather I had two. The first was along the lines of “I could be outside enjoying the sun but instead I am spending my Sunday slotting oddly shaped pieces of a pig picture back together. I should go outside.” The second was slightly more helpful and marginally more profound.

Stay with me on this….. A puzzle is kind of like recovery.

There was a point in my life when I didn’t know who I was. I was defined my eating disorder. I wanted people to see it rather than me. I wanted to hide behind it because underneath my calm exterior and my togetherness I didn’t want to face the fact that I was falling apart. That in fact I had no idea who I was or what I wanted from life. That I was tired of getting hurt and it was easier to hide. That things that that had happened in my life and the chaos of my eating disorder had left me feeling a bit like a scrambled egg…..Or a box of puzzle pieces.

I’m not saying that underneath my eating disorder I’m a dismantled portrait of a pig but instead that….

  1. I have no idea if all the pieces are there.

I broke the golden rule of Puzzling (Yes there are golden rules). Never buy a puzzle from a charity shop. You will get towards the end and realise that a face is missing an eye, a flower is missing a petal or a landscape is missing an.…erm….bit of landscape. When you set out finding out who you are without your illness you just have to trust that if you keep going then you will start to emerge. Trusting that isn’t easy, especially when….

               2.  You have no instructions.

Nobody can tell you what you will be like. You aren’t going to be the person that you were before you got ill. You learn so much about yourself; deep stuff (I am passionate about people having a voice, I want to use my experiences to help other people and I never give up no matter how bad things get) and not so deep stuff (I love standing on my sofa dancing to Chumbawumba- Tubthumping.) There are so many things to gain in recovery but you also have to face that…..

               3.  Some bits don’t fit

I like a challenge and, in a moment of madness (among many) I thought it was a good idea to get a puzzle which had some extra pieces which look like they should fit but just don’t. Much like this, there are things in my life which I wanted so desperately to keep hold of but they just don’t fit with who I am anymore. A close friend of mine just couldn’t accept that I was getting better. We had bonded at a time when things were really hard for both of us and neither of us wanted to accept that we were drifting apart. No matter how hard, sometimes you have to let go of things rather than mashing them in where they don’t belong. Which brings me nicely onto my next point which is….

                4. I’ve lost pieces

Years after began a Snoopy puzzle (You are getting the wrong impression of me, just to set the record straight, I’m not actually an avid puzzler!) I found a piece inside a sock. Who knows how it got there or if I had worn this sock since, what I am trying to say is that things get lost along the way. One of the hardest things that I have lost during my illness and subsequent imperfect recovery is pieces of my teeth. Chunks washed away by stomach acid. Sometimes it makes me sad when I see myself smile and I think about how much this illness has changed me and how much of my life it has taken away. But I use that to keep myself fighting. I don’t want to lose any more than I have to which means that….

                5. As Dory would say “Just keep puzzling (or swimming if you prefer)”

Never give up no matter how bad things seem. The next piece is just waiting to slot in place.

So there you have it. Some of many the many reasons why recovery is like a puzzle. I am sure there are plenty of reasons why recovery is not like a puzzle as well but I think I may have taken the puzzle analogy slightly too far already! Time to stop methinks.

Keep fighting,

Madasanegg xx

A puzzle induced epiphany