Can you be surprised by the fact that you have an eating disorder? Can you be surprised by the fact that despite having had two eating-disorder unit admissions, you have relapsed? Yes. Yes you can. And it’s shit.
I entered 2017 on a slice of hospital and will be ending 2017 on a slice of hospital. Two slices of slightly stale bread, with 365 layers of much of the same crap in between. I want to be optimistic. I want to look back on this year and say that I reached some goals, did some things to make myself proud, got stronger and healthier, perhaps learned to love myself a little bit more. It didn’t turn out to be that way, as, I guess, sometimes these things don’t. Don’t get me wrong, in some ways this year was great. In one way, it was the best of my life. On balance? Put it this way, 2018 already has a head start.
Of course I received some negative comments, however, the purpose of this blog post is to celebrate and salute the many, many people who have sent me beautiful messages of encouragement, who have gone out of their way to wish me well and tell me to keep going. Some of them were from people I knew, some were from students of mine, most were from absolute strangers.
You may have noticed, and some of you may be curious as to why I havent shared many numbers in this blog despite being so candid in other areas. I thought long and hard about it, and I came to the conclusion that knowing what I weigh in kilograms is irrelevant, knowing what my BMI is is irrelevant, and for anyone struggling with an eating disorder these figures could be anxiety provoking. People with eating disorders are notoriously self-critical, I do not want someone following this blog to be holding me up as a standard by which their own eating disorder is to be measured. For young people who have been deluded by the media that the thinner you are the happier you will be, those numbers might appear as goals for themselves, which, given any number of variables may be entirely innapropriate.
That being said, I am very happy to share a figure in a positive way. Thursday is our official weigh-in day and the day we see our 'multi-disciplinary team' (I think it's just the consultant, her registrar and one of the ward nurses), so it's a day where a lot of things can happen.
Firstly; I am very proud to say that at the end of my first week, I have made a weight gain of .8kg! The patients who are on a weight restoration plan are expected to make a weight gain of between .5kg and .8kg every week, so I'm pretty much winning right now! The team also decided to allow me off Level 2 and on to Level 1, so I can now go off the ward for short periods of time, go to an art group or grab a coffee, that sort of thing. I'd say they knew how much I needed it, I'm like a wild animal and the longer they were keeping me locked up, the wilder I was getting! I had to be cajoled into bed sometime after midnight the last three nights, even though I am exhausted.
We were warned about this sense of exhaustion by a few of the different members of the team involved in the programme. Having been eating so sparsely and so erratically for so long, one; your metabolism gets very sluggish and confused, and two; your gut motility is extremely slow. Despite the caloric increase and the assumed energy increase, in fact, so much of that energy is consumed by the body's digestive system's process of actually trying to break down the food, and the physical things that happen within the body to make that process happen- peristalysis, release of enzymes and digestive juices, etc, etc. Then comes poor Mr. Metabolism and he's like an auld drunk fella that doesn't remember what day of the week it is, let alone perform a job of critical importance to the overall functioning and productivity of a large firm. Right now, my Mr. Metabolism is being whipped into shape, he's going through Iron Man training, knocking back six raw eggs for breakfast, he's like Rocky fighting an imaginary opponent to Eye of the Tiger. His training howeer is at my expense (as was his fall from grace, but we will gloss over that) and it is taking it out of me, big time. I am totally exhasuted, in that way where you find yourself nodding off while sitting on the toilet or looking into your coffee cup.
My gut motility is extremely sluggish, I'm bloated, I have heartburn and indigestion, trapped wind, constipation, flatulance, cramps, extreme feelings of fullness, constant thirst and a nasty headache. These are the things you aren't warned about before you come onto an eating disorder unit. The flatulance is unlike anything you would experience at any other time. All of the patients are farting silent, deadly farts, all of the time. It is an unspoken rule that it is never asked who had made the latest contribution. You imagine as smelly places go, you might pick a boy's footall dressing room or the gorillas' enclosure in Dublin Zoo; you would be wrong. You do not want to be in a room of anorexics a half hour after a meal. This is the ugly, smelly truth! If any of you are reading this and thinking that there is something glamorous about an eating disorder, as this blog goes on you'll realise more and more how entirely unglamorous it is.
Up almost a kilo, you can see that I am still very thin, my collar bones and shoulders are protruding, you can see the bones in my chest. This is why I am documenting with pictures and why I'm not sharing weight or BMI. I am so confident that in a few months time I'll be posting a similar picture to this one and my face will be filled out, my chest and shoulders are going to be fed and toned and I'll be a Delty Diva once again! Scales are for fish and weight is only your relationship with gravity. I'm excited to see my transformation over the next few months and compare the photos and actually see the difference, to see a glow of health on my face, to see a supple, strong, healthy body where this boney imposter has currently taken residence.
Thank you again to everyone that's taken time to e-mail me, you have all been such a source of drive and encouragement. Those of you who have e-mailed just to wish me well and encourage me, those of you who have written to share your own mental health story, and those of you who have just wanted to ask me questions, everyone of those e-mail have been like budding flowers to me. You have no idea how much it means to me.
As always, my Yogilateral Warriors, I love you, I'm here if there is anything you would like to ask me then go for it. If there is anyone I can help, I'm here.
I am Clodagh.
I am a yogi, an entrepreneur, a feminist, a teacher and a writer.
I am pro-choice, pro-democracy and pro-pineapple on pizza.
I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece and a cousin, a friend and a confidant.
I am a gym lover; a squatting, lifting, running, jumping, pushing, pulling, fitness freak.
I like the smell of old books, good Rioja, the thrum of jazz, incense and fairy lights.
I am many things. One of which, is an Anorexic.