Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Part #3

So, where were we?!

I don't seem to be able to get a lot of this out in chronological order, so if it starts to get a bit confusing, I do apologise.

All sorts of memories came pouring back to me yesterday after I had uploaded #2 post. Things became rather tough after that, and a row ensued with my husband, wherein I stormed out of the house and drove down to the river, where I sat and then walked in the driving rain, feeling like shit and just never wanting to come back.

The eating disorder 'career' has not been constant - I have had periods of 'normality' and indeed, become considerably overweight, particularly after both pregnancies. I wouldn't say I have been happy to be overweight, but when caring for two young girls, your mind is more preoccupied with them than with your own feelings of low self-esteem in some ways. Does that make sense?

The first episode went on for about a year. This was during the run-up to my first marriage. Anal had already passed the fateful comment about giving me a stone 'either way' and I was paranoid about gaining weight in any way.

I was working for a small firm of accountants in West Yorkshire at the time and I hated it. My mother was in another fug with me and hadn't spoke to me properly since telling her of my impending marriage - that's a familiar occurrence!

It was bulimia first time round. I still recall the permanent state of embarrassment I felt at walking up to the supermarket in my lunch hour, spending anywhere from £5 to £10 on junk food, taking it back to the river where I would sit and fall on the food like a ravenous wolf. It must have looked dreadful to passers-by - a 22 year old woman eating like a pig at swill. By the time I had finished gorging, my stomach would be so distended and bloated that I could hardly walk back to the office. The toilets were located in the reception area which was a nightmare to someone who wanted to throw their guts up and I would have to run the hand drier repeatedly to mask the dreadful noises of my vomiting. After about ten minutes, I would emerge, looking like hell: bleary eyed, red-nosed, sniffling and snotty. It became common knowledge to the receptionists what I was up to and there would either be looks of pity from Brenda or averted eyes from Pam.

At this stage, I was also abusing laxatives dreadfully - at my peak, I was taking around 60 Senokot each day which was screaming through my system. Indeed, I have never had a comfortable relationship with my bowels since and they don't function very well even when I am eating 'normally'.

My wedding dress was taken in three times to accommodate my weight loss. I strove for this. I wanted it to be smaller and smaller - is wanting to lose weight so drastically simply wanting to fade away and disappear? It feels like that today...

My wedding photos were almost laughable. I looked lovely up until the meal, and then the change in my face is dramatic. To my shame, there are splashes of vomit down my dress which were so noticeable, despite me trying to wipe them off. That made them worse, unfortunately! Nothing like puke and water stains to show up on raw silk, is there?!

There was some video of me listening to the Best Man's speech. I look shocked out of my skin at one point where he tells the seated audience about my new husband's visit to a Parisian brothel. I nearly died a thousand deaths. I died inside even more when I discovered photos of him with Thai prostitutes. Beautiful young girls being bought for the week by stinking rich Western men. How abhorrent is that? He didn't try to lie about it (is that to his credit?) and described the process of purchasing them. It made my skin crawl.

Upon my return from our honeymoon, things became worse for me, eating-wise. I wasn't a happy new bride and more than once wondered why I had gone through with it. I used to walk across the fields from our house and sit on some rocks, sipping at small bottles of whiskey, wanting to run away from it all but not knowing where to go. Anal was keen to get out as much as he could and one night, when I begged him to stay in, he screamed at me that I 'always fucking needed [him]'. The thing was, I did! I desperately needed him to be kind to me; to love me unconditionally; to treat me with respect, care and love - but that just never happened.

I sound like a whingeing bitch, don't I?! No, don't answer that one, I may not like what I hear!

Lack of food affects pretty much all aspects of your body's normal functions - not least your state of mind. Depression kicked in badly with me, my stomach and intestines were on fire due to the laxative intake, and I felt so tired, constantly. I would sit in my office with the door shut and a heater blasting at top level. I was permanently cold and it got to the stage where I could only work wearing gloves to keep my hands warm.

During the 'episode' I am currently struggling with, again, I am permanently cold. Poor circulation (Reynauds Syndrome) means that my extremities turn waxy and white and the pain is pretty intense. Lack of minerals leads to many cramps in my feet and arms (have you ever had cramp in your arms? It is a bizarre experience!) and by around lunchtime on some days, I can barely walk for the pain in my buttocks, thighs and knees. Sitting is painful, standing is painful and I can't lie down all the time when there's work to be done! Lying in a hot bath helps to a degree, but unfortunately, due to the lack of fat along my spine and pelvis, the hard bath ends up bruising me. The only way to be comfortable for any length of time is to lie with my hands tucked underneath me.

I feel lower and lower each day, to be honest. I don't know what to do with myself. I don't know how to handle the dreadful thoughts whizzing around in my head - thoughts which don't even leave me alone in my sleep, wherein I wake up crying and moaning with nightmares, which must drive my husband potty as he loves his undisturbed sleep (don't we all?!).

I have visited our doctor three times now. Each time, he has given me different tablets. The first were anti-depressants. I have never experienced such dreadful paranoia. I think I took them for about three days and by the third day, my whole body was jangling and I couldn't keep any of my limbs still for agitation. I jiggled and tapped, fretted and almost walked a hole in the carpet. It got to the stage where my husband called the doctor who then prescribed Beta-blockers to calm my heart down, and stop the palpitations and agitation. I took these for about a week - the side-effects on these were dreadful nightmares - full of violence and terror. I wasn't just waking up crying, I was waking up shouting, jangling and petrified of my dreams. A new prescription was offered. Slow release Beta-blockers. One night, I thought my heart was going to stop...

I refuse to take anything but sleeping tablets now. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have escaped with drink - I will admit that. It pains my husband dreadfully, and he abhors it. Alcohol abuse is not a pretty sight in a man, but definitely not in a woman. The alcohol has eased the pains in my bones. It helps me run from my thoughts, too. I don't even like the bloody taste of it, you know...When I am OK, I don't need the booze. But when I am not, I do. I have had conversations with other ED sufferers who have said the same: the booze helps you to oblivion-seek. It doesn't mean we are alcoholics; it just means that we are trying to escape.

I am trying to get counselling and have been referred to an Specialist ED Unit. I was referred there once before but was not deemed 'ill enough'. I am not holding my breath this time, either - particularly after my doctor looked somewhat glum and admitted that he had never had any success with them in the past. There's a six-month waiting list for NHS counselling - you could be dead by then - and so my only other alternative is to go private. This costs an arm and a leg. As I am not working at the moment, I am not getting paid. I don't really know how we can afford it. Do I return to work as soon as possible and risk passing out like I did two weeks ago, bashing my head on the toilet bowl and coming to sporting a beautiful purple egg on my forehead?

This has been a particularly hard post for me to write. I am admitting things here which make me feel very ashamed and very uncomfortable. I want to ask you not to judge me for my confessions. Bizarrely, I want to be liked by any visitors to this blog! How pathetic is that?

But, duty calls and it is now time to rouse the household. Bad dreams woke me at 4.30am and I thought I would put the quiet time to some good use.

I will be back!


Charles Parsnip said...

I think that you are so brave in getting all of this out, and down onto (internet) paper.

Whilst I have heard most of this, it is a good place for me to come and remind myself of the pain and suffering you have had to endure over the years. Some of us could never imagine the horrors you have had to put up with, and can never possibly imagine the pain you are going through.

This takes great strength and courage. Believe in yourself Annie and keep it up.


Linda and her Twaddle said...

Agnes: Many, many years ago I would go to a local cheesecake shop, buy a huge cake, eat it and then vomit it up. The sight of a container of Ford Pills just makes my skin crawl. This post reminded me of things that have been semi forgotten. That odd lonliness and shame that goes with it. I just cannot tell you how important it is to just write it out and take a step back to look at it objectively. You will hopefully be able to one day put away that small, needy girl who lives in you and pulls you down and let the brave 38 year old woman come out and run with life.

Agnes Mildew said...

Charles: I don't think I could do any of this without your help, love and support. Thank you.

Linda: Thanks for your comment - and the lovely emails you have sent. One of these days that small girl will be exorcised, alongside all of her demons. I just hope it doesn't take too long.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if commenting here is for better or worse. Yet when I read that you wanted to be liked by any 'visitors' to the blog I felt I should.

I wanted to commend you on your honesty and your strength. I'm familiar with what anorexia can do to someone, having supported a loved one through it again and again, and to hear the raw emotion and force in your words has brought me near tears here.

Thank you for finding it within yourself to share your story, an I hope you and your husband find the peace you deserve.

Sorry for the random comment. I almost felt like I was spying if I didn't say anything.... if that makes any sense.

Thank you again... really.

Agnes Mildew said...

Anonymous: Thank you so much for your visit and for leaving a lovely, kind comment.
I am sorry to read that you have been affected by anorexia, too, albeit with a loved one.
It is a rarely acknowledged fact that family and friends also suffer the effects of an eating disorder and whereas there is little help for the sufferer, there is next to nothing for the carer.
Thank you again for your visit and please do keep returning.

Karen ^..^ said...

This was painful to read. When you've read someone's blog for a year, and enjoyed it immensely, as I have, you develop quite a relationship with the characters. I can tell you that you are no fraud. I can tell you that anorexia and bulimia in no way define you or who you are. Your true self still shines through, and your true self is beautiful, lovely, and good. This post brought tears to my eyes, because I have felt the same way you do so many times. What you are going through is so relatable. No, I never suffered with an eating disorder, but have felt self loathing more often than not. My affliction is surrounding myself with people who are not good for me, always has been.

People will read this and wonder, why not just stop this cycle of self abuse? They won't be able to relate unless they have been through a similar experience. I can tell you that when my sister suffered from this horrific affliction, I had a very hard time understanding it. I had a very easy time understanding WHY she felt the way she did, as I felt that way too. I just didn't take it out on my body the way she did. I took it out on my soul. what happens for eating disorder sufferers is that it steals your soul while it eats away your body. And yes, I fully beleive you were trying to in a sense, disappear.

What you are doing takes enormous courage, but with the risk, you are opening yourself up to so much that is wonderful. This really CAN help you. Writing and putting it out there for the world to see takes all the stigma away from this. You will come to find that you aren't alone, and that people, even those who've never met you, genuinely care about you due to having formed a relationship with you through this and your other blog. You really are quite a woman, and I am so glad I came to find your blog. Keep up the good work, and may you recover very soon. Take care.

The biggest hurdle is to unlearn all the negative stories your bitch mother told you all during your young life. This is not as easy as it seems, as it came at a time where we are such little sponges and are in learning mode. This is what I am having the hardest time with. Once I finish that, I'll be fine. Reading "The four agreements" helps too. I read it often.

Agnes Mildew said...

Karen: Thank you for such an insightful comment. And very supportive, too. I do, greatly, appreciate your words - and everyone else's, too.
I saw a shocking poster not so long ago which divulged the odds of winning the Lottery. It was something ridiculous like 1 in 10,000 - just for £10.00. It then went on to say that mental health problems affect 1 in 8 people. So, we're all playing a Lottery in some ways. I know very few people who haven't suffered with something, at some point - be it Post Natal Depression, Anxiety, Manic Depression, Self-harm, ED, low self-esteem...the list is endless, isn't it? I guess it depends on how deeply it affects us, how soon we can get a grip on it (before it gets a grip on us) and how we admit to it before taking any further action.
All I know is that I have admitted this for years and years and still don't seem to be getting anywhere.
But I have to agree with you (and Linda) to write this out might just be the best thing I have ever done. It's certainly better than the rotten drugs I have been prescribed!
And, HexMyEx is still a great catharsis for me. I do enjoy writing it again now, although I had my 'block' for a while. A bit of humour provides my balance.
And I definitely need that!
Thanks again!