Obviously, I haven’t posted in a while. Exactly five months, actually. It’s something I think about all the time and I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I had nothing to say. I’ve been empty of words for the last while, in many respects. The high that I was riding after my progress during my inpatient battle with anorexia began to take a downward turn. Living alone, I struggled to feed myself and stick to any semblance of a meal plan after the wealth of support, both from staff and other patients, while in the hospital. My insomnia began to escalate to a whole new level; right now I’m running on about three hours a night and sheer stubbornness. I feel low. Even trying to express now how the last few months have been is difficult; I feel as though I should be keeping all this to myself and with every word I’m releasing a drop of poison from my fingers to you, through your computer screen. In terms of numbers (remember I don’t talk actual numbers), I have made no progress in weight gain. The anorexic thoughts are loud in my mind almost all of the time. I am anxious, depressed, on edge, over-tired and under-fed, my self-worth is a dot in the distance and self-love is something mystical that I hope I can find one day.
These are the real reasons I have not posted in a while. I felt like I should be saying things to inspire people; that’s why I decided to be open about my eating disorder journey from the beginning. I wanted to show people an arc; illness – acceptance – seeking help – entering treatment – waging war – battling, every day – weight gain and all the emotions that come with it – emotional and mental revelation – recovery – weight restoration – normal person – normal life. I entered treatment, I went to war, I did battle 6 times a day during 6 meals and many times in between. During treatment, I met my weight goals and often extra, at every weigh-in. Unfortunately, I have had no revelation. I don’t know why, or even exactly when, I developed an eating disorder. Frankly, I don’t know how I am supposed to overcome it without that knowledge. Just eating regularly and putting on weight doesn’t seem to have cut the mustard. It makes me sad to say that I now weigh less than I did on my discharge date. So, I guess I’m ‘in recovery’ since I’m still trying, my head is still above water, but, unfortunately, weight restoration, normal person and normal life remain exotically elusive.
- Am I the only person affected by an eating disorder that struggles this badly?
- My story is not following my scripted arc; does this invalidate my experience?
I thought so. I thought I was a failure and that to share my struggle would come across as whiny and indulgent. Worst of all, I was afraid that it would be triggering for my readers, my Yogilateral Warriors, that are struggling with ED. Full disclosure? I am a prideful woman. This is just another casualty in the mounting piles of things ED tears from you. My lack of progress felt, and feels, like a personal character flaw; if I tried harder I would be better now.
“You are pathetic, weak and entirely helpless. You need me. What the hell would you do without me, you piece of shit? That’s what I thought.”
- Are positive stories with perfect outcomes the only ones worth sharing?
Again, I thought so. Or I made myself think so, because the alternative was so intimidating. But, I’ve come to a point of clarity; at least I think I have. It’s fantastic and inspiring to read people’s success stories, but; those people are probably part of the minority. Anorexia is such an insidious illness, anyone who manages to vanquish it first try is extraordinary. I’ve always been a high achiever. I have never struggled to do anything I have set my mind to. Interestingly, this is a characteristic of many ED sufferers. ‘Failing’ at recovery feels like an insult to my very person. I am not someone who fails. I am, however, representative of far more men and women who are ‘in recovery’ then most statistics will tell, or most people will admit to. So, perhaps there is a place for my voice here. Perhaps it’s time for a Sorta-Kinda-Not Really-Work-In-Progress-Success Story.
So here I am. Over 7 months since discharge from hospital, apparently progress-less. My voice is valid, as is my experience, my journey, my struggles and my triumphs, my highs and lows, my fallibility, my femininity and, most of all, my humanity. I know I am not alone. It took me a while to see past my own sense of shame and realise that that was a direct symptom of the disorder. ED wants you to feel shame, and, more than that, He plants it deep in your mind so you are not even aware that not all your thoughts are your own. He is insidious in His execution. He thrives on secrecy, deception and lies. So, he and I are going to war. This story is not going to go like I thought it would. Every post from here out will not be a success story. There will be highs and lows and each of those experiences are as valid as the other. At times, I believe that the story of the lows may prove more helpful to other ED Warriors as the highs.
There is no arc to my story. It cannot be neatly wrapped and packaged, stored and stamped ‘COMPLETE’. At times, maybe it will be inspiring. The rest of the time, I hope it will be enlightening, at least. I am not perfect. I am human and I am flawed. But; this is the only story that is mine to tell, and if I help even one person then I’ll have done something priceless.
So, strap in. It won’t be pretty. Well, maybe sometimes it will. There is still a lot of beauty in my life. A lot. In many ways I am blessed and that is what keeps me going. I’m going to try to do this. Some days will be easier, some harder, but I’m learning to acknowledge the little victories that come my way. It’s not going to be a journey, it’s going to be a trek. Highs and lows, smiles and tears, good days and bad; I am still Clodagh, I am still human and my story is still valid.
If you have any questions or comments, there’s a box down below. I will reply to you! And to all the amazing people in my corner, I love you endlessly. To my Yogilateral Warriors, you are the ones that get me up in the morning. And, to my ED Warriors; you are not a failure. You are not disgusting. You are made from stardust. You are so much more than flesh and bone. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of recovery. I believe in you, because I have to. I believe in all of us. So, let’s do this.