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

Wednesday 3 August 2011

unplanned things

It’s funny how sometimes the unplanned things
lead to paths you would never imagine choosing yourself
In the middle of the year the CES (Community Employment Service) organised and held a course for unemployed people to gain skills in different areas. Mim and I both completed this course together. The subjects included bartending, waitressing, computers, cooking, first aid, and learning how to drive. The driving lessons were the main make up and reason for the course. Our lessons were all paid for, and if we got our license first test that was also paid for. It felt a bit degrading at first to do the course simply because of pride and to be unemployed was not where I wanted to be. I couldn’t complain though because everything was paid for and we were gaining more experience in many areas, specially driving. It was a funny mix of people doing this course. There was a vast age range to begin with going from 17 to 50. Some of the people had such a mediocre attitude towards employment. They were so uncaring and preferred to stay on the dole and let the government look after them. I think it was effort enough for them to turn up to class and even then they didn’t put in much effort. Some of the teachers didn’t help though. They gave the impression that they were superior and we were nothing because we had no work. It was difficult working with people like that because all it makes you want to do is rebel. The cooking classes were a challenge because I had to, with Mim’s help think of excuses not to eat what we had cooked.
Eating was actually beginning to drive me crazy now. With doing this course I was waking up earlier, eating earlier, getting hungry at early intervals and I ended up on what felt like a never-ending cycle of eating. Once I told Deanne everything I had eaten thinking it was a lot. She pulled out all this plastic food and showed me everything a person should eat in a day. It was based on all the five food groups. This totally blew me away, especially when she compared it to the small amount I was eating. It probably equated to one quarter if not less of what she showed me. I wondered how on earth anyone could fit so much food into them, and not have a problem.
I couldn’t get away with not eating at tech because I was with Mim every day. Little by little what I was eating seemed more and more. It wasn’t that I was increasing my food intake at all, it was just that I was eating regularly. I didn’t feel the terrible
hunger pains, therefore I simply felt fat. I became very easily frustrated with all things. Mum was seriously starting to annoy me. She doubted that I was even trying to eat better, and questioned everything I did. One day I decided to be honest with her and show her a chart I had filled in for Deanne stating what I had eaten. Mum laughed when she saw it and said I must be lying. If I were to eat as much as I had written down she’d need to buy more food so she argued. Everything I had written was true because I didn’t see the point in lying to the dietician at the time because she’d find out anyway. So, naturally it really hurt when mum said I was a liar. She also clearly said that people like me are extremely selfish. I felt much disrespect when she said things like this. Quite often I tried to share with her when I had a good food week and all she did was belittle and undermine me with negative comments.
The unemployment course was moving along well. It was quite fun working in classes with Mim. We were both getting to know the other people in the course. Despite the fact that they had an attitude problem towards work, they were still nice and easy going people. It was better to associate well with the others than to feel superior or better than them in reality we are no better than others, it’s just really how your attitude is and what you do about certain situations. We all had quite a few laughs together. I managed to earn the nickname of “spilly” or “drippy”. This was a result of my many attempts to serve drinks on a tray but always spilling them. It wasn’t an insult or anything so I didn’t mind. I thought it was quite funny actually. Some days some of us ditched class and walked down town together. The classes we skipped were generally those with teachers who felt extremely superior to us and really looked down on unemployed people.
The driving lessons were never missed. As scary as they were they were also fun and obviously valuable lessons. Unfortunately mum never allowed us to practice in her car. So our only lessons we had were when we had time with the driving instructor. It felt weird driving. The weirdest part of it was taking the control of something, knowing I was in sole charge of operating this object. Our instructor was great. He never made you feel stupid, he only corrected whatever mistake you made with a nice manner. He made sure he said the positives of your driving. The day before my actual driving test he mentioned to Mim that he might give me a quick lesson in an automatic and I may have to take my test in this car. This was because he thought I wasn’t getting the hang of gear changes.
Mim told me this and I was devastated. Now this was a time at which I felt very incapable. Thankfully he decided against his and decided to see how I would go. Mim was away on holiday the weekend of my driving test. I was so nervous. Mim had gotten her license only the week before, and now it was my turn. I totally psyched myself up for it wearing my favourite clothes, wearing my special ring, and even listening to a Mozart piano concerto (meant to help the brain) before hand. Quite surprisingly I passed my test. I couldn’t believe it.
Aside form driving lessons, another compulsory requirement of the course was to complete two weeks of work experience at any place of our choice. For my first week I selected to do this at a vet hospital. At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get into veterinary science or not, but this week really clarified it for me. I realised that this kind of work was definitely not for me. I often felt nauseous observing operations, even only minor ones. I’m not sure if it was the actual look of them or the fact that I hadn’t eaten that made me feel this way. One operation was to take a small piece of wood out of a dog’s leg. I nearly managed to pass out with this one. I also think I had too much compassion for the animals. I saw a gorgeous Maltese terrier in a cage one day who looked rather healthy. I queried the vet as to what was wrong with him. Sadly he told me he was being put down because his owners were going on holiday and as he was getting old they thought it easier to put him down. It broke my heart. The vet said it so casually as if it happened frequently.
The duties I did enjoy were walking the dog’s around the yard, grooming them, or even cleaning out their cages. Grooming the animals was fun because it was taking pride in something. My biggest problem however was feeling and acting rather shy. I barely spoke, and if I did I only felt as though I was a major nuisance. The day I became sick and was sent home was a blessing to me. I wished I was sick every other day there. The only other thing that was great about being there was my freedom not
to eat. I saw it as a week off. I had no one watching me. Mim wasn’t there to keep an eye on me and that was great. I was sick of eating and pretending it was okay. I made a conscious effort to not eat. It was hard for the first day or two because I was so accustomed to eating and my body just wanted food. Yet to feel those hunger pains again was significant. I was comforted that they still existed. To feel them and ignore them was such an accomplishment. I didn’t have to undergo the feeling of guilt because of food entering my stomach. No, I rejoiced at the growls of hunger and the light headedness. I had control back and that meant success. I could feel the pain yet deny it and from that I could only feel I was succeeding.

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