To read this blog in order start at July right at the top of the blog archive and progress down in order. This is an account of my battle with anorexia and bulimia

Sunday, 28 August 2011

new beginnings

“without purposeful action, you’re just a passenger, being pulled along without self-imposed direction or control” p134 (Dr Phil, Life Strategies)
That was me in a nutshell. I was drifting along, with no set goals. For at least a whole year I felt I existed. I had fun, but was in a rut. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted, or even where I wanted to be. I didn’t even know if I wanted my job any more. But I was scared to step out and take a chance.
I had the dream about Mim dying, then only a few days after that I dreamt about an ad in the paper about me leaving my child care centre. The thought of that terrified me because it was my first job and I really didn’t know if I would ever get another job. I spoke to Mim about all of this, and she asked if I considered moving back home. I admitted to looking up jobs on the internet, but hadn’t made a definite decision. For a couple of weeks I toyed with the idea of moving, then eventually everything fell into place. I felt comfortable all of a sudden when I thought about being with my family, and being in a familiar town. I no longer felt out of place. For weeks I was on a high because although it was such a big change in life, I knew it would work.
Everything fell into place automatically. Mim’s friend said I could move into his spare room. So I already had accommodation provided. I had a few interviews, and was offered a 2 day a week position at a preschool, so accepted that. I knew it was the right decision to make. Resigning from my job gave me the most liberating feeling. I had done my bit there, and made my impact. I never realised how much I was valued by the parents until I left, as I was showered with numerous gifts. As I walked out the gate I was worried I might cry, but instead I felt as though I had walked into a whole new world.
The saddest thing about leaving the mountains was leaving my friends and especially the family I was living with. I will always consider them my family now. I could never have gotten this far without the help from them.
Moving back was scary, and it still is. I admit that I feel a lot less stressed as the life style is a lot slower, and more laid back. But there are times when I just want to cry. I figured out today what part of the problem is. A hug! It can say so much, and when you miss out on them you feel isolated and alone, and that’s how I feel some days. Just to be close to someone. Mim and I are so close, but there’s some things that I feel better talking to a friend about. I am discovering a new me. A me without the eating disorder. I am meeting new people and at the moment I can sense that people like who I am. Strange feeling! Some one commented that they knew their children would be alright with me babysitting them because of my bright and bubbly personality. That is me without the eating disorder. I was noticed as me, and I was trusted. I wasn’t chosen because I was skinny. I don’t want people to know much about the eating disordered me. That is the past. That is not who I am now.
It’s a fight though and it always will be. Few days go by when it is not a struggle to eat. I don’t fear food, but I don’t always accept it as a part of my daily routine. It is a real effort to eat some days, and it is even more challenging to recognise and feed my hunger rather than feel satisfied that I let it ride and had nothing to eat. I don’t deny that I have lost weight since moving. And I don’t deny that I feel secretly pleased when someone comments. But I can be honest in saying it wasn’t intentional.
I try so hard to stay on track with eating because I don’t want to turn into what I used to be. The door is open for me to step back into the anorexic cage. I want only to get close enough to shut it, but that frightens me because I like where I am at and I am afraid I will be tempted to put a foot in. I still have strange views on numbers. I only like skinny numbers such as 1, 2, 4, 7, and any number over 10 that contains the previous numbers. I don’t like my birthday because it is a number 8, and it is in May and May is a short fat month. I dislike the letter f in my name because it is roundish at the top. No matter how I write it, I can’t make it look skinny. I also dislike the letter s is my name. Well, I just don’t like the spelling of my name overall. These things may seem obsessive, but I’d rather just worry about these abstract things then worry about what I am putting in my mouth.
I know the day will come when I won’t be afraid. I can see already how far I have come in just two years. It’s not easy, but nothing in life is a bed of roses. As human beings on this earth we make choices that contribute to shaping who we are. We can choose living, or we can choose existence. The difference being that living is making something of who we are, to deal with issues, to create relationship with people, and discover our self. Existing is just what the word says. We are here, we are alive, but we are not living.
Anorexia is existing, but I choose to live!! (november 2003)


I simply want to know what life is about and live it well, and not be afraid. To live without regret, without fear, without being locked up in a safety cage of my beliefs. But this is what has turned things around. Before long I became conscious of the fact that I was now living in reality. I was to be a responsible person who took action over my thoughts and emotions. I could no longer run to my eating disorder whenever things went bad. For 13 years I relied heavily on this disease as my way of life, as a coping mechanism. It hid me from pain, numbed me from real emotions, and prevented me from turning into an adult dealing with real life. I went through hurtful times, depressed thoughts for so long without telling people because I just stopped eating as a way to deaden what I really felt. As long as other people had problems I never comprehended that mine could matter even half as much.
In the past year I gradually became familiar with the person I was without an eating disorder. In reality it took at least 5 months to start getting used to the concept of eating dinner with a family, and including it as part of a routine. Then came giving up the laxatives, which took a while to deal with. During this time I still wasn’t confident with expressing my feelings, so it was absolute hell. Sometimes I just wanted to scream and swear, but my personality just doesn’t allow this sort of thing to happen.
So, I have had about 7months now of normal(ish) eating, and at the same time trying to figure out how to express what I feel. Sometimes it’s hard enough to even discover how I feel, let alone knowing what to do with it.
Work was all going well, but a lot of change was occurring. We had to get a new director, Anna came back, staff in my room changed, and I went back to my normal position. Now I
Everything at home is fine. I could never ask for a better family to be with. Jane keeps telling me how much I have grown (emotionally) in the past year. I can
It was like a split second decision, but one that changes you completely, and that is to stop eating so much. I often thought it throughout the year, but was enjoying myself too much to ever take my thoughts seriously. But this time it was different. Something inside me clicked, and it was like food became a poison. I got a drink bottle for work, so I could drink throughout the day instead of eating. As the week progressed I became more obsessive. I had music rehearsals for the musical TOMMY, so was able to escape dinner. The show was to start the week after this, so I had planned that I could skip dinner on these nights as well, and was very relieved, because that was my plan to keep me going for the next two weeks. However, there was a fire at the theatre, so the show no longer is going on. I went into an absolute panic, because it ruined my plans completely and now I didn’t know how to escape from dinner. If I wasn
It didn’t last that long though. I think I conned myself into believing that I could eat again, just because it became easier to say yes to food, rather than thinking of all sorts of ways to get out of food. My psych said that for so long I said “yes” to what other people wanted, not really considering how I felt in a situation. It was always less complicated to attend to other people, and agree with whatever they said, than to stand up for myself. So in that case, I said “no” to food instead. I denied myself of something.
6th July 2003
Nothing really makes sense. I am like a yoyo. One day I can eat, the next day I can’t. It hasn’t been a good week emotionally. Crystal (Jane’s daughter), is getting married. I am really happy for her, so that isn’t the issue. Family is the issue!! I feel I am on the outside looking in sometimes. Crystal and Jane have a very close mother/daughter relationship, and with the wedding plans moving along, this is becoming more and more evident. To hear her say the word mum, and give Jane a hug absolutely hurts. It’s as if my heart is yanked out. I guess I am jealous. So what do I do in return…starve (or try to anyway). At home I am becoming less confident to eat, and more determined not to eat. I will never refuse a meal while I am living here because I know how much it could hurt them. I have been down that road only a few years ago, and I won’t do it again. So my plan is to escape meals whenever possible. At times when the family get closer, I try so hard to busy my own life so it won’t look as though I need them. I would rather pull away than to be pushed away gradually. I know in the sensible part of me that that would never happen. They have fully accepted me as part of the family. But I am too scared to risk that. I have my own family who I am also scared to lose.
One night last week I had a terrible dream about Mim having to drive home on the freeway by herself. I don’t know if she made it home or not because I woke up crying for fear that she may not have made it home. I didn’t have the guts to ring her up the next day because I thought I was just being silly. For the whole week I was just off. All I wanted was my family with me. It was as though I kept reaching out but my arm was never long enough. Hard to actually describe. One half of me was watching a family be happy and content and I was only an arms length away literally, but just couldn’t get in there emotionally. The other half of me was yearning for my family, and my arm was stretching as far as it could go but it was never able to grasp it because I am too far away. So instead I am left in the middle. The most insane part of me wants to wrap up my own family, or lock them inside so nothing will ever happen to them. The dream was a real wake up call, and it really shook me up. I don’t know if I am in the right place or not.
t such an unassertive person, then I could just refuse dinner, but I just couldn’t do it. I eat it and panic. Although the amount I ate was probably about 5 spoonfuls, then I was in such a hurry or I would be late to go out. I make up excuses for the next two nights, and because I am naturally a busy out a lot person, my excuses seem so believable that there is no questioning.
t deny that I have. I am more honest with people now, I often stand up for myself, and I became more comfortable with who I was. But suddenly I am scared, I am so scared. I am letting go of a belief, and also of a way of life, and stepping out as what feels to be naked. It was so easy with an eating disorder, because that was my life, and that was my focus. I lost that focus when I gave up my disorder, but I never found a new focus. I am dealing with real problems in a real world, and I dont like it. It was easier to just be angry at myself, and put on a happy face for everyone else, because then I don‘t have to justify anything, or feel awkward.
m not saying these are bad changes at all, but they are all changes that happened at once. Its relieving not being a director, and to not have that responsibility. But at the same time its intimidating to watch a very very skinny person walk into my role. I felt inadequate, like a child who was trying to be an adult but didn’t really know how to behave, or how to properly take control of a situation. I was watchful with everything I did at work for fear that Rachael (new director) was watching me, and is wondering to herself how I could ever have been a director. I try to be happy at work, but sometimes I cant because I just dont know if I am giving my full 100% at my job. I feel lost.

long time between writing (4 months)

I was on such a good run, and was actually telling people it was over. Well, personally I don
In May I went on a holiday, just for a week. It was mainly to give myself a break as being a director had now been fully handed over to Rachael. I couldn’t believe how much a week could change thought patterns. The first few days were spent with friends who had moved to Newcastle. I hadn’t seen them for at least three years, so was a little nervous about it. I knew I had put on weight, and was ok was it, but was worried about how I would deal with anything they said. Hallelujah…nothing was mentioned, except for the look of surprise when I actually finished a whole meal.
From Newcastle I went up North. I was with my friend Pamela in Brisbane when I had, (what I think anyway) a panic attack. She was on the phone to her mother, and I was just watching television. An ad came on about women over the age of 35, and suddenly my life went before my eyes. Quick as a flash it happened. I put together in my head in a matter of seconds that in 7 years time I would be 35, then nearly 40, then sooner or later we’d all be old. I became quite anxious of the thought of dying. I kept watching the tv, and thought about how even after we die, life still goes on. Nothing changes….as humans we are but a spec of dust in this whole wide world. We are here for a mere 1-80 odd years, out of thousands upon thousands of years. In a few years time after our death we would be pointless to anybody, except those who
loved us. I freaked out (and still freak out today) about the limited amount of time we have to figure out our life, and feel happy and right about it. In this series of thoughts I started to question the whole God and Christianity thing. How am I assured heaven, and what is great about eternal life, how do we know it won’t get boring?? As Christians we live by this set of rules, that limit us in certain ways, and well, I don’t like it at the moment. Pamela came down and wondered by the look on my face what on earth could be the matter. I asked her if she wonders if we will ever live again but as a completely different human being, and not know that we had existed before. Her look of absolute shock was one thing, but her question of “are you turning into a Buddha??” made me laugh.
From then on I have been in utter confusion about many things. For a very long time I was into the Christianity thing. To have the belief helped me make sense of many things happening in my life. It was comforting to rely on something bigger than me to be the cause of whatever goes on in the universe. It was helpful to believe that when things didn’t go my way it was because it wasn’t in God’s ultimate detailed plan of my life. I therefore accepted some let downs (not easily I might add, but with assurance that it was for a reason). I don’t know now. I do believe we as humans are created by something, and not just an accident. The world is far too complex to have just happened. I don’t know if it’s God or not. I still believe in God, but my faith is little. Many times prayers go unanswered, and it just makes me wonder if events in life would happen regardless of praying or not.
t think it is ever gone for good, but here I was believing it was. I dont know what has happened, but I could slowly feel myself slipping. My psych (if Id said that to him) would ask me to say more if I said something like that, but its very hard to describe. Ever so gradually I started to separate myself from situations or emotions, and now food

visits to the psychiatrist

The day after, I had the appointment with the psychiatrist. My biggest fear was that he would think I was fat, and tell me he didn’t think I needed help. Instead, he asked probing questions, asked how I felt about certain things at certain times. Because I really want this help for myself, I want to clear these depressive thoughts, I was able to answer. Over the past year I had established many ideas on the creation and evolution of the eating disorder. They included how I wanted my own identity, how I was crying out for help, and how I needed a problem in order to handle my other problems. Interestingly enough he said similar things from what information I had given him about my life in a nutshell. He recognised that although I am an adult now, I am still trying to live out the years I missed because those years were nothing but the eating disorder. He understood that there were many conflicting issues happening in my head. There is the issue of knowing what is right for my body conflicting with the irrational need to look sick, and not be healthy. He recognized my hesitation in trusting people. This is something I had only discovered my self recently, and since then I have been even more wary of people. I explained to him how I often let people into my life, yet somehow they always let me down, and it may be that I just have too high expectations on them. I was relieved when he actually said that he could see why would feel that way. Toward the end of the session he gave a sum up of what he thinks has happened with the eating disorder. He said it has pretty much been a survival mechanism for me. Not physically of course, but more in that I relied on it to get me through problems. Rather than going through problems and becoming tangled in them, I became blind to them and fell to the eating disorder. His goal for me is to create other means in which to handle life, and to sort out the conflicts in my mind.
The second visit
I know he’s a good psychiatrist because it’s the second visit and the second time I have left there feeling depressed. May not sound like a good thing, but it is because it means I am talking about issues that have really bothered me. It took one and a half hours to drive home (because the place is so far away) and I think I cried for most of it.
He mentioned this time my intuition (last week) that the problem was due to feelings I had in my childhood, and he is willing to work with that. This means that for the first time I am being honest in how I felt growing up. And how I felt was lonely. I know that hardly anyone has it easy, and my story is probably a bed of roses compared to others. But it’s not that that counts, it’s how we react in situations, and how we perceived them that matters. As I mentioned before, Mim and I had two completely different perceptions of growing up. We both saw each other as the dream child and as the one mum favoured. I couldn’t see then what mum was really giving me because I guess I had different needs and I could only see that those needs weren’t being filled.
I tend to look for those needs in other people and in other relationships. The psychiatrist pointed out that I often get to a stage in a relationship (friend or other) and I no longer know where my boundaries are. I have a need to be accepted but am unsure how to do that. So I start out the relationship by giving and giving parts of myself and always surrendering to the other person. Then there comes a time when I realise I have needs in this relationship to but don’t know how to get these needs fulfilled. Generally I revert back to the eating disorder because it is the one way to be noticed, then from there I fear I have gone to far and start to distance myself from those people.
Trip 5 to the Psych
I can finally say I am getting somewhere in all of this. I am expressing feelings and events that I have never really felt comfortable before in dealing with. To start this mim and I had one of our best conversations over the past weekend, about mum. Both of us withheld tears as we remembered things that bothered us. A few nights before this I heard the dog running up the stairs (where I am living). The sound was exactly like the noise mum made when she fell over at nights times because she had had too much to drink. It was a pitiful situation, and initially we fell for it and ran to her rescue. In the end it was frustrating, and I felt such an inner anger towards her for doing this. Mim agreed. She recalled endless nights sitting in the lounge room watching television. We were home because we couldn
Talking about this to the psych, and about how I am today I can almost make a connection. It is an ongoing joke here at home about me always being out. I can
t be satisfied if a havent got a week planned of nights out. A night sitting at home freaks me out to some extent. If I choose to have a night off I can be happy with that, because it is something I want to do. Sometimes I just need to stop and recharge. But other times it is this inner drive to always be doing something. I feel guilty if I am just sitting in my room watching television. I feel as though I need to justify what I am doing so no one thinks I am lazy. Its like being in my room is a bad thing because thats how I felt when I was younger. I could never feel comfortable just going into my room to do anything without having reason for why I am doing it. If I was to read a book in my room, it was questioned. Even if I just wanted to sit in there it was questioned. It was almost as if we had to sit in the lounge room because mum wanted and needed our company. s a weird feeling that I have all of these angry and upset emotions over just these things when Mim is fine with it all. The psych identified that there is still a part of me that needs to grow and find out who I am because I wasnt able to do that as a child or teenager. He could clearly see how strongly I felt about all of this and how lost I am now because I just didnt know how to break away and become my own person. There is more to me, but I dont know how to find it. I am afraid about exploring that because I dont know even what I am looking for but I just know part of me is missing.
t go out, if we did go out there was a guilt trip placed over us. Mim always sat so still, never complained about it. I was always so restless, knowing I could be out doing something. I never sat still, always complained how bored I was. I find out now that Mim hated it as much as I did, except she was able to lose herself in a little dream world and accept it for what it was.


Everything is great…I have a great life. I am fortunate to have a job, to have a new car. I have freedom allowing me to go on great holidays, to go out late at night. I live with a caring wonderful family. And most of all I have my family (Mim, James, Courtney, and Jesse) who if I didn’t have, I wouldn’t bother about life anymore.
I don’t understand how I can be so lucky to have such a life yet still feel crap about it. I am living, yet still haunted by this eating disorder. It’s not even so much the eating now though, it’s this inner drive to be loved and accepted.
Last week I arrived home from my Christmas holiday with Mim, and was greeted with an empty house as the family had gone to Queensland. I hated it. Most people enjoy being alone, but it freaks me out. Not that I am scared of being alone, it’s more the loneliness side of things. I know I am not being abandoned, yet I can’t help but fear that I have been left on my own.

just when you think it's over

I was having an absolute ball in life. Everything was going great. (Well sort of…work was getting to a stressful point, and I almost resigned.) My friend Deb came down to visit for 5 weeks from Byron Bay. We were practically joined at the hip, with two other guys Mark and Ken. Us four hung out nearly every second night until all hours of the morning eating, talking, laughing. I felt normal and accepted. I travelled back up to Byron with Deb and her daughter, spending only one week there. Admittedly it was one of the best holidays I have had. After such a stressful time at work it was much needed. It made me realise that most things that happen in life are our own choices. Here I was thinking I was stuck in a hole at work, with no way out. I was paranoid that everyone in the work place hated me, and was so ready to leave. But really, it was my choice to stay at work, and it would only ever feel how I made it. If I felt that everyone hated me, in the end I would do things that made people hate me. If I felt people liked me then I would act accordingly. Living in Springwood, and staying at work were my choices because it was my security. I had the option to stay in Byron, or simply just not go back to work. Yet, because I need some direction in my life I need my work to keep me sane!!!
Although I had problems at work, it made me stronger in a sense. Everyone has problems with their work place, and it all depends on how you deal with. Personally I thought the eating disorder was easier, because that was my focus, and other problems went by, and I dealt with them by either starving or exercising. This time was different though. My whole problem at work was just feeling so inadequate at what I was doing. There were overall issues at the centre, and being an emotionally reactive person I blamed all those issues on myself and was paranoid that the staff were attacking me personally. I started becoming distant from the staff because I was so afraid that they hated me, and I couldn’t handle that rejection. I tried avoiding work, calling in sick quite often for a period of a week (which is a lot for me!!!). I was absolutely sure that they were all relieved when I didn’t come in because they wouldn’t have me bossing them around and making it all stressful for them. Funnily enough I didn’t worry about what the children thought. I knew they liked me and trusted me, and I felt the same way about the parents. The trip to Byron really helped de-stress me, and I totally relaxed. I managed to get back to work and see things for how they really were. Admittedly there were issues with myself that I had to deal with (like communicating with staff), which would help the workplace. There were then the problems of the centre overall, which was not my own fault. I didn’t cause these problems, but I could help fix them. I dealt with (well still dealing with) the paranoia about staff hating me, but at least I got through it without resorting to the eating disorder.
I thought that the whole eating disorder had just about vanished by now. I barely threw up food, I was definitely off laxatives, and I was eating breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that I had a pregnancy scare and became extremely stressed and completely lost my appetite. It was a deliberate act with no intention of relationship at all. It’s not until after the act, that I realise how stupid I was for being so careless. It didn’t only happen once that weekend though. It was twice, but the second time was with a different person. The moment we met up I knew we weren’t going to be discussing anything. We had unprotected sex twice that night, then decided we should never do anything like it again and remain as friends. Strangely enough we were never friends from the beginning. I made it clear to him when I first met him that I didn’t like him. One year later I am worried that I will have a baby to him. A million thoughts went through my head a day about what I would do if I was pregnant. Having just bought a new car that weekend, I was unsure on the finance side of things. The thought that I probably liked the most was if I had a baby it would be something I could love and take care of. At the end of the day I was very relieved when I got my period.
With all of that, I barely ate a thing in the last two weeks. The thought of even breakfast made me nearly throw up. I completely turned off coffee, tea, and even chocolate. As ironic as it may sound but I was so frustrated that I wasn’t hungry. Then at times when I was hungry I could never identify what I actually felt like eating. The less I ate then, the more I enjoyed not eating. That is until it took its toll the other night. The evening of the Christmas Pageant I was singing in was on, I started feeling extremely ill. I assumed it was because of my period, so I took some Panadol. I felt worse and worse as the night progressed, and could not stop vomiting. Late in the night I asked Jane to take me to the hospital because I could no longer stand the pain. My throat was burning from all the stomach acid, and my arms and face were feeling numb. Jane rushed me down to the hospital, where I was put in intensive care for the whole night. A series of blood tests was done to identify what type of virus it was, but nothing showed up. I was hooked up to a drip to get fluids into me, and it also had some sort of drug that was meant to make the pain go away, but it didn’t. My urine was tested and came up showing high ketone levels (not quite sure what it means, but something to do with not eating). After that, my heart rate was tested and it came up as low as 45 beats/minute. With the results of both of these tests the nurse became cluey, and questioned Jan about my eating habits. She told Jane that with results like these it is often linked to an eating disorder, and that is what is causing the stomach pain and vomiting. She stated that if I didn’t fix myself up soon, then it would be a re-occurring illness, getting worse and worse each time. It was a wake up call if ever I needed one.
I have been referred to a psychiatrist in two weeks time. I am kind of scared, but relieved at the same time. The counsellor I was seeing was great for the time, but I really feel I am ready to move to more in depth help.
I can honestly say it is a shock that it is all happening now. Here I thought it was all behind me and just a story to tell, but it’s still going. I am really having to make a conscious effort to eat and drink these days though. I really hate eating at the moment. Jane is doing her best encouraging me to eat. She will even tick off on the food pyramid daily, to see if I have eaten enough in all the five food groups. So far in 5 days I have not filled one pyramid. Looking at it in a sensible way I know I should have each food group ticked, with the right amount of servings from each group. That would mean my body is at least healthy. But I can’t help feeling scared that one day the boxes will all be ticked. At the moment for me it means I have eaten too much. I know it’s the anorexic talk, but I don’t have the energy to fight it.

is there an end?

At times I wonder if there is an end to it
In ways I feel as though I have fallen into this deep hole that I know I can get out of but I’m not so sure how to get out. Occasionally my fingers grip the edges and I am coming out of it, but then I realise it’s only external out of this hole. I am only touching happiness with my fingertips, and when they slip so does the happiness.
I went to visit Mim a few weeks ago up home. She had read this up to, I think, the beginning of this year. We had a discussion about the things I had written. She wasn’t very happy with a lot of it, claiming a lot of what I had written wasn’t as bad as I made it to be. It may not have been, but as we are different people she can’t assume that I feel the same as her about all things. What she found hard to grasp was the fact that although she thought she knew me so well, I in fact was keeping so many secrets from her. I can only apologise for that now, but in order to feed my own disease I needed to keep things in secret and pretend I was getting better. I never realised how much I could actually hurt those around me, but I did, and bad too. It actually cuts deep inside how much I hurt the, especially mum and Mim. I was so engrossed in myself that I never gave thought to those close to me. The only thoughts were “they are trying to make me eat” or “why can’t they just leave me alone”. Mim moved out of home so I assumed mum had no idea of my eating patterns. The nights she cried to me I thought she was just drunk. Mim informed me that day we talked, that mum was crying for me. She felt helpless, yet I thought she was only hopeless. There’s not much I can do about that now except pray that mum knows I wasn’t trying to distress her, or put her through pain. I am too scared at the moment to let go of that feeling though. I can’t say in a prayer out loud how I feel because I don’t want to know how I will feel. All I know is that I was only trying to hurt me, and unfortunately others got damaged in the process.
My mother was someone who cared deeply for me. Yet through my own selfishness I could never see that. I was looking through dark coloured glasses as I grew up, so what I have written is how I perceived things. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but I know that Mim has a different perspective on how things happened.
That’s the thing with life…no two events are ever perceived the same by anybody. Fear and anxiety are the emotional or felt reactions to our perception of life events.
Our personalities often are linked to how we see things and react to things. I discovered my temperament type and was not shocked at all. It clearly reflected all of my behaviours…analytical, self-disciplined, gifted, moody (extremely), self-centred, touchy, revengeful, critical, quiet, organised, practical, indecisive, fearful, worrier. A lot of the characteristics I wish I could change, and now that I am aware of them I can change!!!


In a set of tapes I listened to (about 4 years ago) by Neil Anderson, there was a great little story, which I could easily relate to. It wasn‘t until two weeks ago when I read over the notes that I could see such significance in that story.
Once I held in my tightly clenched fist ashes from a burn inflicted on my 10 year old body. Ashes I didn’t ask for, but that were forced on me. And for 17 years I kept my fist closed in secret, hating those ashes yet unwilling to release them, not sure if I should. Not convinced it was worth it, marring the things I touched leaving black marks everywhere, or so it seemed. I tried to undo it all, but the ashes were always there to remind me that I couldn’t. His sweet holy spirit spoke to my heart one night in tearful desperation. He whispered “I want to give you beauty for your ashes. The oil of joy for your mourning, and the garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness.”. I’ve never heard of such a trade as this, beauty for ashes. My sadly stained memory for the healing in his word. My soot like dreams for his songs in the night. My helpless and hurting emotions for his ever constant peace. How could I be so stubborn to refuse an offer like this. So willingly, yet slow in motion I opened my fingers and let the ashes drop to the ground. In silence I heard the wind blow then away from me forever. I’m now able to place my hand gently around the fist of another hurting soul and say with confidence “let then go.”. there really is beauty beyond your comprehension. Trust Him, His beauty for your ashes.

It almost brings tears to my eyes writing that out and realising that the ashes I hold in my hand are the eating disorder, and the lies I believe about myself. I always felt I left a mark somewhere. A mark of annoyance and hatred. In my fist was something I hated so much, that made me hate myself and I was utterly convinced others also disliked me. I am still anxious about trusting God to give me beauty for my “ashes”. I can only gradually feel my fingers loosening up letting bit of the ashes out. It’s like holding a fistful of sand, then loosening the tightness of your fingers and allowing the sand to sift through, ever so slowly though. There is so much to let go. To let it go in one lot I would never understand it, I would never see the small steps God is leading me through. It’s so important to be aware of the letting go in order to understand the areas in which I was so tightly in bondage, the things that were causing me to hold onto the disease. This way I can look back if I am ever regressing, and see my negative thoughts turned into positive ones.

self worth.........

Self worth is not based on personal success or your desires
After reading a book called Victory over the Darkness, by Neil Anderson, I am beginning to see things more clearly about why I am doing the things I do. I spoke earlier about being a Christian, and lately my faith had dwindled. I was really doubting there was a God. I couldn’t figure out why I had to suffer this eating disorder. Through reading this book though I understand that it is not God who is making me suffer with this. It is myself! I am believing lies about myself that are not true. I struggle to understand a lot of the evil verses good, so if you are a non-believer reading this I just ask you to read on anyway and try to appreciate what my experience is with this. I can be a bit apprehensive about a lot of this stuff myself too, and what really struck me about this book was the honesty about how people get caught in thinking they are so unworthy, and how they form wrong perceptions about themselves.
I have only started realising that my self worth as a person, as me, is not based on how skinny I am, or how I can or can not control my eating. If it were then really I would have no self worth at all. I have blinded myself into thinking that if I can stay skinny people will think I am successful and a great achiever. It was also my way of getting people to care. It was my desire to get as skinny and as sick as I could so people would notice me, so they would talk about me. My desire was so unrealistic and faulty, that it’s no wonder I sank in to a depression whenever that desire was crushed. Neil Anderson writes himself (p129)
“depression often signals that you are desperately
clinging to a goal you have little or no chance of

My desires weren’t met, and I therefore believed I am a failure. Anderson states that a desire depends on the co-operation of other people, or on events and circumstance beyond one’s control. When something or someone gets in the way of that desire, there is instant disappointment and sense of failure. In another book I have read recently (Motherless Daughters, by Hope Edelmann) it even says how the motherless daughter is always looking for someone to take over and care for them. They try to master their environment with achievement and success. Their self worth is dependent on ATTENTION. I was blown away when reading that. Firstly I had a wrong desire to find a mother figure. I placed any person old enough to be my mother on a pedestal, and poured my heart out to them about my eating disorder. I wanted their ATTENTION and their care. When they didn’t meet that desire of mine to look after me and be like a mother to me I thought it was my fault. I then attempted to get skinnier, so maybe they would notice then. I wanted their pity, because I believed it was the only way to get their love and attention. I wasn’t willing to let go of the eating disorder because I didn’t know what it would be about me that people may actually like or think about.

a little TLC

I am now living with a great family. I tread carefully though because I never want to intrude. I am living with Crystal’s family, actually in her room because she has moved out. The funny thing about living here is that Crystal also suffered an eating disorder. I can’t run away and hide here, because Jane (her mum), knows it all. I am feeling like the child again, who needs to be accepted and loved, who needs to be acknowledged, and all these things I am getting. When I was so sick and couldn’t leave my own bed, Jane was there looking after me, giving me juice and just checking how I was. I remember mum always doing that. After she died I so craved to be looked after like that. Mum used to have us lay out on the lounge if we were sick, and look after us there. It’s funny how even at 26 years old I want to be looked after when I am sick.
They are what I call a normal family though. Each person is an individual, yet they are aware of the others in the house. They go out, on their own and as a family. I feel too lucky to be here in some ways. Jane is a great support for me with the eating. I think because she knows exactly what’s going gone, and how tormenting it is, she can understand it a little better than most. She actually helped me stop taking laxatives, which is the biggest relief. I gave the whole box to her, and feel too guilty to buy another box. Occasionally I raid my room in a desperate search of them, but never find any. I have even started eating dinner regularly. Some days I absolutely hate it. When dinner is served all want to do is hurl it across the kitchen and say “stuff your bloody dinner.”. I know Jan wouldn’t put up with that for starters, and she would talk me through it, being totally aware that it is just the eating disorder talking. And me being how I am I just o along with whatever pleases everyone else. I feel privileged I have spoken to Mim recently about some of what Liz and I talk about. I never knew if she still wanted to know about the eating side of things so I usually avoided it. One day I told her something brief about it, and she sounded positively interested, and questioned why I never talk about it with her. The only reason I could come up with was that I thought she would be absolutely sick of hearing about it now. We started talking about Mum and her struggles, and I am starting to understand that Mim and I view things very differently. I never thought it was fair that we were both raised by the same parent, yet have developed so differently. Mim is a great person and the best sister anyone could ask for. She has a very strong personality, is independent, fairly secure, and always sees a positive side of things. I am pretty much the opposite. I crave security, am dependent on others to some extent, and I don’t always see the positive side of things. I have developed an unhealthy anger towards Mum for our childhood, because I feel we missed out on something. Mim on the other hand understands with maturity the struggles Mum went through, and just dealt with things differently. I guess that’s where different personality’s also fits in. Everyone is born with different temperaments and different personality’s, and therefore will seek different needs in their life. My need was to be recognised and nurtured by someone. The one way I could achieve this was through my weight.
I wanted to be cared for, yet also be my own person. I often day dreamed on our back step about all the things I could do if I was by myself. Mum always cared for and loved us and I will never ever doubt that, but there was something missing or something not right in the family picture. My counsellor gave me a wonderful illustration on how I felt. She drew a few individual circles surrounded then by one large circle, which was to represent a family - many individual’s in one family. She then drew three interlocking circles in the form of a triangle (each circle had the other two joined into it). That was our family. All of us were individual’s, but also joined together, therefore not having total individuality. Liz suggested that I didn’t know my own personality,
and decided to create my own, which ended up to be the eating disorder

enough to live here, and never want to ruin it by seeming ungrateful like that.
This year I started seeing a new counsellor too. There was one session when I was talking about work, and how I just felt so on the outer. That whole week I felt out of place and so uncared for at work. Then the more I thought about it the more upset I became about it. Liz (counsellor) acknowledged that I am searching for a person to care for me and to nurture me. As soon as she said that I just cried and cried. I hate crying in front of people but it just wouldn’t stop. For so long I felt that, that need to be nurtured. She pointed out that that could be part of the problem - this is my way of getting cared for. For her to say that meant so much, because it meant that what I was feeling was okay, and it wasn’t just me being silly. She described that I probably felt all abandoned again, and that the only way I could grab the attention of the others was to lose weight. She was spot on. It suddenly felt safe to have the thoughts and feelings I had. It was like a big release actually.


Along came the month of May. And with it was Melinda’s wedding. I had built up such a hate for her that the thought of playing violin at her wedding made me even more angry. I still had such resentment toward her for leaving me. I didn’t talk to her at her wedding, not even a congratulations. Times after this became even more difficult. Melinda tried being friendly to me, but I showed more and more bitterness.
One day a mutual friend of Melinda and I, rang me up about work. We got talking about Melinda and she said how sad it was that Melinda and I weren’t talking anymore. She admitted that she used to envy our friendship. After talking to her I realised how childish I had been. It was only my feelings of being abandoned that made me angry at her. It was as though I was resenting the fact that Melinda was moving on in life and was happy.
I swallowed my pride, and arranged to have coffee with Melinda. I apologised almost straight away for my behaviour and for being such a bitch to her. She said she couldn’t figure out why I was being so hostile toward her, and was actually going to give up being friendly to me eventually. I admitted how I felt deserted by her, and by others in the church. I was seriously at a point where I hardly had any friends because I separated pretty much from all of them. Melinda truthfully told me I can sometimes be a hard person to be friends with. That hurt like a kick in the gut, mainly because I knew it was true. She went on to say how many people in the church really do care about me, but don’t know how to help. I was reminded of how sometimes she would try to help me with the eating disorder and one day I may be willing to talk about it, but the next day I would become defensive and not talk about it. If people aren’t really experienced with eating disorders and the depression that comes along with it and can be very hard at times. I know myself I suffer great mood swings, and a lot of the times they are food related - either hunger, or anger because I had eaten. At times I just felt so unworthy to be around people. All I worried about was people thinking how slack I was for eating. It was easier to not spend time with people in the end, because I just was too anxious about how they perceived me.


alone: left alone without being cared for or supported (Encarta encyclopaedia)
I’d never really considered this word before, or would never think of actually describing how I felt as this. It wasn’t until somebody said I was angry at others because they abandoned me that I realised it is how I feel, or how I fear to feel.
Sometimes I feel so alienated to the world, unsure if I even should be here. The first few months this year were really testing here too. Living arrangements were all up in the air, and so were friends.
I thought I had everything worked out. I knew Melinda was moving out soon, but Amy assured me we would move out together to a new place. In this time Mim and James bought my share of the house up home, so I meant I had money for a deposit on a house if I wanted to buy. It sounded perfect to buy a house, live in it with Amy, and she could pay rent to me. But she had other plans which she wasn’t going to tell me until later. With only two weeks until we all have to be out of the house we were renting, Amy informs me that she is actually moving in with her brother Tom. She gave me a few reasons as to why, but the anger building up inside of me didn’t allow me to hear them before I exploded some not nice words to her and walked out. Angry and hurt were some of my feelings. I had all of two weeks to find somewhere to live. I resented both Amy and Melinda then, because they both had somewhere nice and secure to go to, and I had no where. I resented and hated the fact that I didn’t have family like Amy who I could just go running to. This is when I really started to feel alone and isolated. I could no longer sleep. Tiredness just didn’t exist for me. I usually stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning, and slept for all of maybe 3 hours. Sometimes I’d get quite restless and go for a walk down the street. Nobody knew, because neither of them were home most of the time. I was alone and hating it. Nobody knew if I ate and threw up, nobody knew if I took 20 laxatives, nobody knew that I went for a walk in the middle of the night. And nobody knew if I cried. Only I knew and that made it feel even more lonely.
The weekend of moving came. It was all real. I made such a joke of it stating to others that I was now officially homeless. In some sense I was as my furniture was being stored in a friend’s garage, and I was moving around staying where I could when I could. My mail was even being re-directed to my work address. I stayed with Suzi and her family for the first week. Suzi is a friend, and also worker. The first hurdle to jump was eating. I laid down my rules flat when going there, and told her I was not to have meals with them. To do that would mean giving in, and having to say yes every other night. I couldn’t do that. I had myself to look after, and I wanted to be strong with what I believed, although I didn’t really know what that was myself. For that week I did my best to avoid any contact with any sort of substantial food, and swallowed handful of laxatives each night before I went to bed. Suzi knew exactly what I was doing, yet just wasn’t able to understand, like most of us can’t either. One night there I just broke down and cried in front of her. I couldn’t keep up with myself anymore and just wanted to give up. I wanted her to then take it all away from me, to hug me and tell me it was all over. But it didn’t happen and it won’t ever happen unless I let go. I knew being looked after by Suzi was only a temporary measure for that week, but the bit of “motherly” contact I had for that week I really liked. I got the big hugs when I was sad, and I got the stern look when something that I did was wrong (like not eat). I was like a child that week, being looked after, yet at the same time I knew it wasn’t for long so I still looked after my self.
The next few weeks after staying with Suzi, I house sat with friends. The first place was for Georgia and Samuel (Georgia being my boss), and I did this with Donna. Toward the end of our first week there, Donna had to go on a camp with the church. I totally freaked because it meant being alone, something which I really did not like. I had different friends lined up to come over, just so I wouldn’t be on my own. The worst was the weekend though. The anniversary of mum’s death. Donna was the only one who ever remembered, but she was away. I didn’t know what to do, if I should tell anyone, or let it go. If I told people was I expected then to be sad, or would they think I was such a bitch if I just carried on as normal. I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me so I just let it go, and went on doing my usual stuff. That night I was actually rostered on to play violin at church. I arrived feeling fine, but as we practiced I began to feel depressed. I was surrounded by people yet felt so isolated. They were all happy and laughing, and all I could think was that 5 years ago my mother was a night away from dying and not one of them knew. I couldn’t wait to get out of there that night, except for the fact I knew I would be going to an empty house. Fear came over me because I just didn’t know what to do. I tried text messaging my friend Jan to see if I could come over, but got no reply. I drove home fighting back tears. Tears I couldn’t even identify as missing mum, or as feeling so lost and alone. I needed to beat the pain I felt, and when I got home I took a handful of depression tablets. It wasn’t an attempt to kill myself, or even to make the “depressed” feeling go away. I knew neither would happen, but I knew it would make me sick and sleepy. Ironically enough as soon as I swallowed them Jan wrote back and said I could go over there. As soon as I got there Jan had open arms for me and I just cried and cried. I told her what the day was, then told her what I had done. I felt rather stupid and small. Jan talked me through a few things, then eventfully I felt too sick and just had to get to bed. To this day I still don’t know what I achieved by doing what I did. The one thing I know is that it was my only way of saying “hey, I’m here, and I’m upset yet don’t know how to deal with it.”
A few days after that, Jan came with me to talk to Pete, the youth pastor at church. He said what most people say, that he knows I have a few eating problems, but I appear to have it all together and am always happy, so there was no need for concern ever. I hate that. The one reason for an eating disorder is because things aren’t under control, not even the eating disorder itself. Just because a person appears happy, it doesn’t mean they are. I sometimes hate myself so much, and hate my life, but I’m even too ashamed to admit those feelings to others, so the next best thing is to carry on like the “happy go lucky” person I was always perceived as a child, and not let others in on the hurt. I rarely feel worthy enough to let others in on how I feel. My feelings are only minor compared to what they go through. I have only myself to deal with when most others have a whole family to look after. I want so much to be part of a family yet as soon as I get close to it I suddenly feel like such a burden on others.
The best feeling I had was a sense of running away from everything. I went on a one week holiday, somehow getting myself all the way up to Brisbane. My trip started by visiting the Charles and Lana (who I lived with a few years ago in Lawson) in Laurieton. My biggest fear was that they may comment on my weight gain, but thankfully they didn’t. Here were another group of people I felt abandoned by, although they would have been completely oblivious to this fact. I was the one who moved out of their house to find my own independence, but they were the ones who moved right up to another town. I had lost a connection when they went. They were there for me through mum’s death, the first anniversary of it, and through the worst of my eating disorder. There was so much of me they came to know, and that I gave and then they moved away. It was great to see them again, and to actually have fun with them, and eat with them. Michelle was only 3 when I moved out of their house, yet at the age of 6 now, she remembered me, and she liked me. She asked me one day while I was there “why did you always stay in your room?”. I didn’t know how to answer that, so I just said I had a lot of work to do. The real reason was if I ventured out of that room I would come into contact with food and people. I was always grumpy and snappy so it was best o stay in that room. I’m glad she didn’t remember that side of me. From there I went to Brisbane, staying one night in Byron Bay, visiting a friend. I had an absolute ball the whole trip. I was free, doing what I wanted. And although I was alone I was enjoying it. I wasn’t worried about time for a change, or about what I would do the next day. I planned on the day for the day. I was happy.
That was the bit of freedom I decided to give myself before jumping into co-directorship at work. This whole issue itself raising feelings of aloneness again. Both Anna and Georgia were going on maternity leave, and selfish as it is, I felt as though they were ditching me. Interviews were held for a teacher/director to replace Georgia. All the while they wanted me to be director, but didn’t think I could cope on my own. The most suitable candidate, Kylie, agreed to take on the position of director, when I offered to share it with her. I realised for once that my position at work is actually valued and taken seriously. Only after I agreed to everything, and papers were signed, did I realise with great anxiety what I had done. I honestly felt as though I had set a trap for myself, not on the work side of it, but with allowing Kelly to work there. Kylie is my age, and has her own mother, but has known Suzi for so long that she is like a second mother to her. I imagined that Suzi would just forget me and only talk to and care for Kylie at work. Work was the one place I felt sure of my position, and suddenly I felt very insecure. I wanted to set up a little corner for myself, with a sign that read “remember me”.
I must thankfully say that it has turned out nothing like I imagined. In fact it is great. Suzi hasn’t changed one bit, and in no way plays favourites. I guess it’s a childish worry about which one would be liked the best, but it’s a concern of mine. It’s more like who will be cared for the most.


What do you do when you’re all alone
It seems as though no one cares
The pain and the fear are deep inside
Anxious to be made aware

The body is crying out for help
Wanting to be let free
Free from this trap that has
                                                            Such a hold, free to let me be me

The trap is a cage
with me locked inside
Trembling and sad
Trying to hide
To hide from society
To hide from the lies
The lies of the voices
That come from inside
I want to be free
To get out to live
But what does that mean?
I have not yet lived.
Steff 2002
The beginning of the year things changed for me. I can’t describe what it was, or why it was, but I was different and didn’t really want to be with people. I became extremely addicted to swimming in a desperate effort to lose weight again. It was too hot to walk most days, so a quick swim in the pool was actually refreshing. I started once again to distance myself from friends, stop talking about meaningless things, and even made up excuses for not going out. The more I did this, the harder it was to start going out again. If I had my choice, and didn’t need the money I would also have chosen to stay home from work.
I was becoming more and more obsessed with eating disorders and having the internet opened up a whole new world for me. I found some great chat sites, where I’d be talking with people who also had eating disorders. The more I did this the more doors it opened up for me about what is “normal” (as far as an eating disorder can go), what other people feel, why it happens to some. a lot of the girls I talked to were in recovery and come into the chat rooms to chat about their experiences. I formed some good connections with a few people, who I still chat to regularly 6 months down the track.

breaking up ain't hard to do

It didn’t go down to well on his side of things. Inside of me was a mini celebration, but he was devastated. Mim, James, and Courtney came down for that weekend and witnessed Tom’s obsession with me. Even after breaking up he was still sending me SMS phone messages, letters in the mail box, and thankyou cards. This all happened within two days. One of the cards was for Mim, containing a $100 note in it. Tom asked her to help me seek professional help for my eating disorder. Mim got on the phone to him and told him he’d better leave me alone or she would ring the police. I didn’t hear anything after that.
Aside from the Tom matter, having my family visit was fantastic. I could finally show off my much talked about family. Courtney was so excited to see where Aunty lives. We did all sorts of things like go to Featherdale, catch trains, shop, have water fights. Finally I was happy.
My weight didn’t really bother me anymore, for the moment anyway. I felt as though I was ready to cope with it. Well I really felt I had no choice but to accept the weight gain. I even went on shopping spree’s to buy new clothes that would fit me better. I didn’t care because I was actually having fun in my life. I had developed great friendships, and had a period of real happiness for a while. Weekends were spent with friends, just watching video’s, or having dinner, and having fun. I couldn’t have asked for much more.
In June, my nephew Jesse was born. That was a pretty awesome thing to happen. While Mim was in hospital for a few days, it gave James and I a real opportunity to get to know each other again. We had resolved things already, but we never really talked much. We made decisions together about dinner, and when to visit Mim. The best was that we were both looking after Courtney and he didn’t try and disrespect me in any way. It was such a privilege to be able to look after my niece, and be responsible for her. We had an absolute ball going shopping, cooking stuff, and eating.
The day after Jesse was born I was involved in a car crash. It wasn’t anything major, but more a hassle than anything. Before coming up home I had formed a friendship with this guy, Rod. Anyway, I told him about the accident and he was really supportive. I could feel something there between us, but was afraid to admit it. He rang up every day, sometimes twice a day just to see how I was.
When I got back to Springwood, he was the first person I went to visit. His first comment was that I had lost weight. I was nicely flattered by this comment. The night went on, and we kept on talking, eventually admitting to each other that there was something there between us. Next thing we were having sex. It was strange because there was no love, or no real caring. We talked a bit afterwards and discussed how neither of us wanted a relationship with each other, and that it was just something that happened. And then it happened again and again.
His biggest fear was that I would fall for him. All he wanted was sex and that was it. I couldn’t see myself falling for him but was angry at how he thought he could just sleep with me and just say “I have no feelings for you”. Even friends have feelings for each other. I went on a downhill spiral from there. With both of us being from the same church I found it very difficult to even tell anyone what had happened. I felt odd and separated from people. I had this hurt I couldn’t describe to others because it meant telling them what happened. All I ate for a while was apples, apples, and drank tea. My friends were becoming quite concerned. I hardly talked to them, then the less I talked the harder I found it to even look at them. If friends were over at our house (too see Melinda or me) I stayed in my room with my door shut, or went for a walk. If anyone asked how I was I had to fight back tears. I couldn’t believe one guy would make me feel like this. On top of feeling used (but I couldn’t even really say I was used because I was involved to) I was also hungry. Physically hungry and emotionally hungry. I gave part of myself to someone I thought cared and then I get pushed away and warned that I am not allowed to fall for him. It was as though he was telling me I wasn’t good enough. That’s exactly how I felt. I wasn’t good enough, I was inadequate, I was just a piece of flesh with no feelings.
As the eating got worse, so did my moods. They were fluctuating immensely, one day I was happy, then all of a sudden I snapped and became very depressed. Melinda and Amy tried talking with me, but I just thought they were the enemy and that they didn’t really care. They had their own lives, so why would they be interested in mine. I avoided talking to them at most times, because I just didn’t have the energy required to maintain a positive conversation. I twisted everything either of them said to me and assumed they were having a go at me, putting me down. I became very defensive and snappy at them, which was very unlike me.
I went to the doctor to get a referral for some blood tests required by my counsellor. The counsellor was concerned that my electrolyte balance may have been out of whack because of the laxatives. I was half praying that it was going to come back a bad result. I told myself that I would stop if it came back bad, because then I would know I was physically doing damage to myself and I would have accomplished something. Unfortunately (in my mind) the tests didn’t prove o be too bad. I was very low in iron and had low counts for other stuff but nothing too serious.
Funnily enough the doctor was more concerned about my mood swings over anything else. She prescribed me with anti depressants, and also encouraged me to eat a little more because it may help some of the symptoms. She wrote a list of possible foods I may feel comfortable eating, so I nodded in agreeance with her, telling her I would try my hardest. The whole time I knew I wasn’t going to try and eat.
The tablets proved to be a great hit. I had them figured out in no time. I accidentally took half more than I should have because I took then in half doses, not realising the short interval of time between the two halves. They made my head go very spinny, and I felt very nauseous. I passed out at work and was sent home afterwards. I never really bothered with the tablets after this (unless I felt like it), because I didn’t want my moods to be controlled by a tablet. My moods were caused by my emotions, not a chemical imbalance. year, new house, new relationships, new car

The year started with me in Tamworth, eating, eating and eating. I almost couldn’t stop. I had put on weight, but didn’t really think about it. I don’t know what it was but I just felt different. I didn’t care about weight.
I went back to the mountains, and kept eating. It was almost like I didn’t have a problem (except for downing 5-7 laxatives each night, and sometimes during the day). I was focussed on friends, like Amy and Melinda. We were in the process of finding a new house for the three of us to move into, and eventually we found it.
Naturally we had a house warming party. Actually we had numerous parties at the house, we were known as the party house. Over the last year, Melinda and I made quite a few friends at our church, which just so happened to be down the road from us now. So most Sundays after church people would pop in for a chat. Back to the house warming party though. It was one of the most fun party’s I had been to. We had water fights, grape fights, played games etc. To cut a long story short, this party was when Tom and I got together. (Tom is Amy’s brother). We had met previously, but I never considered him as anything such as relationship material. But for some reason, that night I was drawn to him. My lifestyle changed drastically from there. I was out every single night at his house (he lived around the corner), and usually left there at 3 or 4 in the morning.
I was happy, but I wasn’t happy. It’s hard to explain. It’s actually hard to write about this relationship because it makes me feel sick. He was basically besotted with me and I just couldn’t get that. Every day he had to tell me at least 10 times a day that I was beautiful, that I had a beautiful body. Each time I told him not to say it (because I didn’t believe it, and because it got annoying), he said it more. It got to the point where we’d fight about it, and I’d leave his house. I ended up telling him about the disorder. I think he tried to understand, but I knew he couldn’t. One night I was showing him a video of my family, and there were a few parts in there of when I was at my skinniest. He made the comment that I looked ‘repulsive”. I mulled on this word for a little while, then told him to get the fuck out of my house. He thought I was joking until I said it again. I couldn’t believe what he said. It was like he thought he was trying to help by telling me that I wasn’t attractive then but was now. What I heard was “you were skinny then and are fat now”. What I hated the most was the acknowledgment of having put on weight, and the continuing of putting on weight. I got to about 53kgs. At the time I thought I’d just have to deal with it and get over it finally. I came to the conclusion that the battle was finally over. I wasn’t even taking laxatives anymore.
I still wasn’t happy. There was something wrong and I couldn’t pin point it. The weird thing was that I was disliking spending time with Tom. The more I knew of him the more I disliked him. I not only felt trapped in my fat body, but also in this relationship. The only thing was that I just assumed the relationship would get better. I spent less and less time with him, and more and more time with Donna.
It wasn’t until our house had a green party for St Patrick’s day that I realised I didn’t like him. I was actually ashamed to even introduce him to my friend’s who hadn’t yet met him. That night also showed his possessiveness over me. He was actually jealous when I talked to others because he wanted me only to talk to him. He became extremely cranky throughout the night, then mellowed out to a quiet depressed like person. But I didn’t care. I felt as though I should have, and that I should have been nicer, but I was having too much fun without him near me. I was glad when he went home that night.
The day after the party was the 4th anniversary of mum’s death. Donna, having known this, stayed the night at my house so she could be there for me when I needed her. Tom had no idea, and I didn’t want him to either. Mim and I talked that morning, and she knew something was wrong. She said she could tell I was unhappy for so long, and had a feeling it was Tom. I just cried and cried on the phone to her. I didn’t know what to do. I hated my life and hated who I had become. I was a fake person pretending to be happy with a boyfriend who I didn’t like, and pretending to like the fact that I had put on weight. I got off the phone, and luckily Donna was there, because I would have hated to be alone at that moment. I decided then that breaking up with Tom was the only option. After making that decision I suddenly felt as though bricks had been taken off my shoulders, the next step was to tell him. Amy knew there was something up, and eventually got it out of me. I was so worried she would put this against me, and write off our friendship because I hurt her brother. The exact opposite happened. Instead she was supportive of whatever decision I came to and stood by me. I talked with Melinda about it too, and her first reaction was that I was just being selfish (she wasn’t trying to be mean about it, she was more concerned). She knew how much I was struggling with my weight at this point, (I was up to 52kgs), and she was concerned that I only wanted to break up with him so that I could revert back to my old eating habits.

anorexia as an object

I had to see my doctor for some reason or another. She did know about the weight problem, and asked how it was all going. I told her it was up and down. And she said something so true to me. Having suffered an eating disorder herself, she knew exactly how it felt, and what a struggle it was. She described keeping your weight down is like trying to keep a cork under water. It stays down for a little while, but the whole time is a constant battle, then eventually it pops back up again. I saw how true that was. You can’t just push the cork to the bottom of the water, hoping it will stay there if you walk away. It won’t. It’s not meant to, they weren’t designed like that. It’s like a person, we were born with certain body sizes. It’s not meant to be such a struggle or fight to be the way we want to be. People, like myself, expect the unexpected. I fight everyday to make sure this weight won’t go up. If I walk away and leave it alone it will do what it is meant to do. I’m not sure what that is yet because I haven’t let go of the fight for long enough. I’m too afraid.
My counsellor asked me once to think about the eating disorder as a separate being, or person or something. It took a while to think what it actually meant. But I described it as a black plague, getting a grip on anyone it can. To describe it as a person was different. If there was a person named Anorexia, I imagined they would be greedy and possessive. They’d be the type of person who hates seeing other’s enjoying their own life. The friendship me and anorexia had was not a great one. Some people would be best friends with it, or so Anorexia would like to think so. To be best friends with a person means that it has them totally sucked in, doing everything it orders them to do. But for me, it was not my best friend. I argue it, fight it. There was always another friend trying to pull me out. Anorexia doesn’t like it’s friend to spend time with anyone else, it drags people away from their friends, and socially isolates them. When Anorexia is your best friend you are not allowed out with your friends to eat, because those friends won’t want Anorexia there. They will reject it, and Anorexia will get angry. So, then it’s better to stay at home. And the more a person stays home the less they will be asked out. The person will stay at home with Anorexia then, and not have a fun time. Anorexia is a scared friend though. Very insecure about the friendships it has formed. It tells its friends things like “I can get you noticed” “I can make you feel valued” “make you beautiful”, just to keep this friend. It has to make the person believe this otherwise it will lose their friendship. Some people have a friend called Bulimia though. Bulimia is very influencing and deceitful. It tells you to leave Anorexia at home for a day or so, and Bulimia will take you out to eat. It makes you eat, then belittles you for eating. It tells you you are disgusting and fat. It tells you that to get thin again you need to throw everything up. What it doesn’t tell you is that it is lying, and throwing up doesn’t keep you thin. So there’s two horrible friends associated with an eating disorder. Some people swing between both friends, and are caught in the middle. The ideal friend is Healthy. It allows you to eat at proper intervals, keep your food in, and not stuff up any of your insides.
Anorexia likes its friends to get sick. And that’s what I sure did. In the space of only a few weeks a had some sort of flu or cold. They were absolutely rotten, and I couldn’t even go to work. Each time I tried I ended up going home again. One time I was so sick in bed on a weekend when Melinda’s mum and step dad were up visiting. It was awful. I had never felt like I wanted my mother more. Melinda wasn’t too well either, and her mother was able to care for her, give her the cuddles, the glasses of water or whatever else she needed. Meanwhile, I laid in bed with a temperature of nearly 40 degrees, feeling alone and depressed. If mum were alive I would have rung her up and asked her what to do, but I couldn’t. The fact that I couldn’t made me miss her so much more then. The only good thing about being so sick was not being able to eat. The only thing I wanted was juice, I craved it so much, and drank it like there was no tomorrow.
* * *
Soon enough Mim found out about the laxatives. That was the one thing she didn’t know I was doing from that book. She went to get something out of my luggage bag, like I asked her to. As soon as she went down to my room I remembered that I hadn’t hidden them anywhere. My heart was in my throat as I heard her come back down the hallway. She was so upset with me, it was like this was the last straw. I had no answers for her, no excuses, nothing. I think I was more embarrassed and ashamed than anything. Mim gave me an ultimatum and it was or either fix myself up when I go back to the mountains, or move back up home. If I didn’t get off them she told me I wasn’t allowed back up there to see Courtney. It killed me to hear her say that, but the anorexic side of me knew I couldn’t give up those tablets. I had a goal to lose weight and nothing was going to get in my way this time. I didn’t think she’d stop me from seeing Courtney anyway, I refused to even believe her. I was pathetic enough to stay on the laxatives, and lied to her each time I went to visit, saying I wasn’t taking them anymore. Mim isn’t stupid, so she would have known the truth anyway.
Mim told me that Melinda knew about the eating disorder, and that they often had discussions about it. So, when I went back home I made a point of talking to her about it. She said she knew from the moment she met me, she could just tell. It wasn’t until I started losing weight again that she became concerned though, and that’s when her and Mim would talk. I have to say it was gratifying to know they were discussing me. I didn’t think to even care that they were genuinely worried about me. All I cared about was the fact that they were talking about my eating disorder. Knowing that Melinda knew a fair bit from Mim I felt comfortable to talk about it with her. What she couldn’t get is why I just couldn’t want to eat to get better. I guess she didn’t grasp the whole head thing that goes with it. In some ways it made it easier that it was out in the open. But on the other hand it was harder because I was paranoid now that she would be judging everything I ate.
* * *
Towards the end of the year, things were becoming more difficult with Katherine our flat mate. She then gave us notice that she would move out before the actual lease was up. Melinda had her friend Amy in mind to move in with us. All three of us met up for dinner and to discuss this possibility. It all went ahead, and Amy moved in just before Christmas. I was having too much fun to even worry about food at this time. It was the kind of life I wanted. Fun friends, freedom, laughing all the time. Some nights us three just sat around singing stupid songs and laughing ourselves silly. Work was even so much fun. Anna and I were really good friends both in and out of work, and all we ever did was silly things. This year for the end of year concert we both got dressed up in the kids dress up clothes, and got up on stage to entertain the parents for a few minutes. The funniest part about it was that nobody knew we were even doing this.
Although I was having all this fun and not worrying totally about food, the thoughts were always there. That’s got to be the most disappointing part about remembering fun times - remembering the food thoughts and panic attacks that went with it. When confronted with food in situations such as staff functions, or even a dinner party it always gets freaky. Then there’s the comments that go with it. It was like it was a crime to eat sometimes, because when I did people would laugh and tell me I shouldn’t eat that because it has too much fat in it. I wanted to shout “well shut the f*** up”, but couldn’t.

how minds can be led astray

During my time up home I actually read an excerpt in a magazine about a girl who had recovered from anorexia. I was fascinated by anything with the word anorexia in it, whether it be in magazines, books, newspaper articles or someone’s conversation. I just had to have this book now as it intrigued me, and I’m not sure whether I was more interested in how she lost weight or how she attempted getting better.
I ordered the book in and started reading it straight away. The book had become my friend, something I could relate to. I began underlining all the common features I shared with the girl in the book. I wasn’t half as bad as her but I really ached to be like her, to be so thin, nearly dead. Without realising it I slowly copied some things that the girl did. Crazy things including walking round and round the block so late at night. Sometimes it was 1am and I would walk around the block. It was freezing cold but I didn’t care. I knew I would warm up as I continued walking, so I did. Shadows frightened the life out of me, and I just prayed that I would remain safe.
The thing I vowed never to do as an eating disordered person was taking laxatives. I never ever wanted to get addicted to them. But it worked for the girl, so it had to work for me too!! I can never forget my first experience with them. I bought the chocolate ones, and had two squares. Nothing happened so I ended up having nearly the whole packet. Still nothing happened for the whole day and I began to wonder if anything is meant to happen at all. I caught the train home that day from work, and as I started to walk home from the station I felt an almighty pain in my stomach. It was the worst cramps I had in a long time, and I knew I needed a toilet very soon. Home seemed so far away at the time and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it. To run was too painful, yet to walk seemed like a lifetime of agony. Finally I made it home, and to that toilet. I thought it was over then, but was sadly mistaken. It went on for the whole night at all sorts of intervals. Out I crept from my warm comfortable bed, to walk out into the cold rooms and spend an eternity on the toilet. I felt absolutely wasted afterwards, sick in the gut.
Mim could see I was changing. She hated the change. I hated her noticing the change. I hated eating. I hated fat. She said I had become moody and snappy lately, like I used to be when my eating was bad. I denied it as much as I could, but knew I was lying to her and she knew it too. We ended the conversation on a very sour note. Rather than become upset by it, I blamed Mim for it. She was the one causing the trouble, the one being a bitch. I couldn’t admit to even myself that I was actually the cause of the fighting. I become defensive instead, and let the eating disorder take over and ruin things.
A few weeks later I finish my book. I was completely lost without it. It was as though I had lost a friend when I finished this book. A “great” friend who slowly helped me start to self destruct again. The question that struck me most at the end of the book was “what does it prove?“. A question I could never answer. Why is it so important to be skinny?? I was becoming more unlikeable I think. I didn’t care what people were thinking of me at times. And my sister was right in saying how snappy I had become.
During my next trip up home, Mim confiscated my book. She didn’t tell me at the time what she was doing, only that her friend Rachel wanted to borrow it. I believed her. It wasn’t until a few months after this, when I asked for the book back, that she told me I wasn’t to have it. I questioned her as to why I couldn’t, and she told me she noticed I was becoming like this girl and didn’t like it. She hated seeing me destroy myself, and if taking away the book could stop me then that’s what she did. I was furious. It’s hard to explain how much I wanted it. The more I fought her, the less she wanted to give it back to me, because she could only see the eating disorder in me getting angry. It was the eating disorder that needed this book to keep tabs on how to do it right, how to lose more weight, what tablets to take next. I yelled and screamed, and eventually she gave in. once I had it I was alright, I was safe again. A year or so down the track, I met a soul mate eating disordered friend, Crystal. I made the mistake of lending the book to her. I don’t know why, especially after knowing the effect it had on me. Luckily Crystal was stronger than to do what I did. Instead she recognised the how bad the book was and told me she wanted to burn it. So we did! We sat on a big rock near her house and tore the book up burning it page by page. It was a very gratifying experience for some reason. And I didn’t even regret it. I fought so hard with Mim to get this book back, and then end up burning it, but it didn’t bother me.
My weight was going down again and I was proud. Clothes would fall off me, and people were starting to comment. Food no longer phased me, I rarely even got hungry. I used to sit for hours with a little kilojoule and fat book, writing endless lists on what I could eat. I added up so many foods I would eat a day, making sure it didn’t go over 2000kj. If it did, I crossed it out and started out all over again. At work we gave the children supper, which was jatz biscuits with spread. Usually Suzi and I had a few with them, but I stopped that too. Not even one was allowed because I knew how many kilojoules it had. Suzi was starting to cotton on and I could tell just by her look that she wasn’t happy about it. That made me want to try even harder, because I knew she cared and if I kept losing weight, she would keep on caring. I trusted Suzi, and felt I could just talk to her if I needed to. The only problem being that she didn’t know about my long existing problem. I didn’t know if I should tell her or not, because it would mean going through the whole “does she believe me” “am I skinny enough to be believed” “I’ll need to lose more weight then she’ll believe me.” I decided to let whatever happen happen. I did tell her later on, and she gave me the biggest hug.
My best friend Donna was actually pregnant and was due for her baby in August. She had lost so much weight over the months that I was beginning to panic. Since she lived across the highway from us, we visited each other a fair bit. After each visit I kept asking Melinda whose legs were fatter. Quite often she just looked at me pathetically. My biggest fear was if Donna would lose even more weight after having her baby. I didn’t know if I could cope with the competition.
I was blessed with the opportunity to actually be at Donna’s birth. It was the most mind blowing, beautiful experience. Grace was born on 1st August. I was so excited to be a part of this experience with Donna. But soon after she came home, I tried my hardest to become distant and not spend time with her. Why?? Because I was worried that the next time I see her she would be skinnier than me. The less time I spent with her, the more I missed her. I realised that our friendship meant more to me than how much each other weighed. Luckily that was a friendship I didn’t lose

2000..a new life and a lack of control???

I don’t know how else to describe it at the moment. I can only look back on it now and see it in two different ways. One is that I was freeing myself unconsciously of the disease, eating because I was actually happy with the way my life was going. Two, is that I simply lost control.
Over the Christmas period up home I just ate and ate. A finger bun here or there didn’t seem to worry me because I had the thought in the back of my mind that once I go back to the mountains I could stop eating again. That was a safe thought for me, and a way to excuse myself for eating. I was enjoying eating!! And I was enjoying myself. Little Courtney and I had a few shopping trips by ourselves, and I felt so proud. I didn’t care how I looked because I knew she loved spending time with me any way. One day we went into town and as we walked along she sang out loud to herself. It’s funny how the innocence of children can just make you forget about the things you worry about sometimes.
Only a few weeks after getting back to the mountains, us three girls moved out. My plan of not eating had not started yet. I now used the excuse “I will stop eating next week, so it’s ok to eat that biscuit”, or something similar. I was losing it. Food was surrounding me, in a house that was my own. I had control over the fridge, and what was in it was everyone’s to share. The girls didn’t know about the eating disorder, so I didn’t have an expectation of not eating to live up to. Also, no one was forcing me to eat, so then I actually wanted to eat. And I did.
Moving into a new house, it was natural to have people over for dinner parties, which of course involved food. I still felt scared when confronted with a meal, and didn’t eat much of it, but it was more than what I’d ever done before. Grocery shopping even became a normal part of life for me, where I actually chose foods that I wanted to have.
Everything was just picture perfect in my life at this time. I had developed new friendships, independence, started going to a new church, work was great, and I had a car. It was mum’s little orange car, Hugo. I was too scared to drive on my own so I had lots of different people helping me out. It was such a strange feeling having control of this metal thing. I was so paranoid that other traffic couldn’t see me though, and they would just ignore me and smash into me. Eventually I gathered more and more confidence and was soon driving on my own. It was a whole new concept not having to rely on other people, but instead being so independent and going out on my own. I loved it.
With driving I became much lazier, then gradually I realised how much extra I was eating and decided to start exercising again. Walking was my first option, so nearly every morning I walked for almost 1 hour to catch the train for work. Sometimes I would get energetic and do the exercise shows in the morning on television, but I felt quite stupid actually, copying some person on the television. I never felt quite “worked-out” and like it did anything for me, so I gave that up pretty much as soon as I started it.
I had no scales, but I knew I was putting on weight. Sometimes it bothered me, and other times I just thought “oh well, I guess it’s time to move on”. Nobody commented either way about how I looked, until it was Mim and James’s wedding. One of mum’s old friends came to give Mim a gift at the house. The one comment that really struck me was “gee, you’re looking good, you’ve put on quite a bit of weight”. I could’ve slapped her, and Mim would have helped. All I wanted to do was cry and cry, and cut every bit of fat from my body. It was the most humiliating comment anyone could tell someone, especially someone you don’t even like. If I intentionally put the weight on I could have felt comfortable with her comment, but instead I was at a loss of words. My first reaction was to not even eat dinner, how could I let that person see me eat, knowing that each mouthful I swallowed would be yet more weight gain. Mim didn’t understand, and became upset with me, thinking I should just forget about it. I pretended I would be alright, but I knew that I had to lose it all.
Mim’s wedding was beautiful. After the comment I had though it was hard not to feel paranoid and fat in my dress. The one consolation I had though was that my boobs were still not big enough, and I needed to wear shoulder pads to make them appear bigger. That ended up quite funny, as I lost one under the table at the wedding reception. I knew that day too the focus was not on me, and often I had to remind myself of that.
The week I left home again was the week I reduced eating. I arrived back home to meet Melinda’s mum and step dad. We all went out together, and they shouted lunch for us. It was then or never, so I said no. All I wanted was the cup of tea I ordered. I stared at the food they all ordered and reminded myself how fat I was. I was about 50kgs I think, so not really fat at all. They kept trying to convince me to eat, becoming quite concerned, but I stuck to my goal. We went home, and her mum cooked dinner. I said no again. It was working, I was gaining control and slowly losing weight.

Moving on and becoming independent

Now that I was earning more money, I felt it was time to move on and find a place to live. I knew also that Charles and Laba were going to be moving soon, away from the mountains. This meant I needed a place to live as I could no longer stay there once they moved. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be on my own or to flat with another person. I read one ad in the local paper about a girl looking for a person to share with her. I went and had a look at it, and it was actually pretty good. She sounded quite positive about me moving in so I got my hopes up. A few days later she rang and left a message on the answering machine that she decided her boyfriend will be staying there, so I wasn’t able to move in. I was a bit lost about this because I was scared I would have no where else to go. I took the initiative and wrote out my own ad to place in the local supermarket.
About one week later I gave up, and prayed that God will help me find somewhere to live soon. I wasn’t as faithful as I probably should have been, I was more anxious than anything. Little did I know that where God guides, He provides. One day at work a girl rang up and wanted to know more about my ad. I couldn’t tell her much as I was at work, so I quickly got her phone number and told her I would ring later.
And that I did. We had a great conversation. We clicked instantly, then throughout the conversation found out that each other were Christians. We both knew from that, that we were meant to live together. We arranged to meet up on Friday. My biggest fear was that she would be really skinny and she would think I was fat. I considered my wardrobe carefully about what to meet her in so I wouldn’t look fat.
I got off the train to meet her, and to my blessing she was a normal person. We looked at a few houses that day, then went out for dinner. I felt comfortable eating with her because she so did not discuss food, or weight or anything like that. Being with a person who was comfortable with themselves was very comforting. Although the only thing with that was that I formed some bad habits for myself.
I actually was happy for a while. I was beginning to form new friendships, going out for dinner, having fun. I actually looked forwards to the nights we arranged with friends to go out for dinner. I can’t really remember how I felt about dinner while I ate it, but the fact that I actually wanted to eat it was something. I didn’t think about food every second of the day. I had other things to worry about like finding a house to live in with Melinda.
Eventually we found one, and also another flat mate, Katherine. It was all so exciting. We had the date set for moving out the following year, and boxes were starting to get packed. I never realised how moving out with others would affect my weight. Control over living equalled loss of control in that department. It was like a whole new life