Invisible.

‘Your condition was very acute’. The words my dad and step-mum said to me last weekend, such an innocent comment so why has it upset me so much?

Yes I want to be better. No I don’t want people to see me as disordered. Yes I’m glad people see me as a smiley person… but sometimes I want my struggle to be acknowledged. Is over 6 years of my life being overshadowed by an eating disorder simply acute? I can understand that only the beginning of my disorder is remembered by those around me who only saw the external weight loss… but does my dad not know that things have never really got better? The discomfort and hatred I feel towards my body has never faded, nor the whirring calorie calculator in my head, I have never felt fully recovered so why is it assumed that I am? The voice of an eating disorder inside my head has silenced my real voice.

The day my dad said this to me, I reacted by purging my lunch. It was almost like a vain attempt to prove that things hadn’t got better and that I am ill, chronically ill. Of course i didn’t tell him I did this… just as I won’t tell him that this evening  I have binged and purged 3 times within a few hours,  I entered a subconscious zone opening cupboards and the fridge to satisfy my unsatisfiable stomach. Then regret, guilt. Then self-induced vomit.

The problem is that this dominating part of my eating disorder is secret, I can’t admit to this disgusting habit so how  can I expect my dad to know the torment I go through. He can’t see that food is not enjoyable, it is a substance that may taste nice but it is also a substance that provides guilt.

I don’t want to be an ‘inspiration’, I don’t want to be ‘strong’ because I’m not either of these things. I have not beaten my eating disorder and if the way I live my life is what others aspire to have then that would make for a melancholy world. I am lucky to live with my mum who has been there by my side for the past 6 years, who has seen that the eating disorder’s grip still hugs me tight, and she doesn’t assume. If you know someone who struggles or has struggled with their relationship with food, don’t assume, allow them define where they are on their journey, allow them to struggle if they need to and make sure you support them if you can.

 

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A house without a home.

When does a house become a home? There has been a change in dynamics in my house; my mum’s partner moving in, my brother moving out, it’s different. I’m living halfway between a University house and a family house, but neither are home.

There are no home comforts at University, the walls shake as neighbours play their music and fire doors slam. As I lie down in my room and hear the sounds of happy, laughing students outside, without close friends I feel so very alone and unsure of belonging. Yet at home, I can no longer spend my evenings curled up on the sofa with my mum because she has new company and I am no longer needed. So I take my place lying down in my room there, hearing the sounds of happy, laughing parents downstairs. Where is my home?

There are so many people across the world who don’t have one secure place to call home for an abundance of reasons. Some don’t even have a roof over their head. Very few people like change and it is even harder when it is a change that upsets the majority of your existence. When the rest of your world throws difficulties at you; work, assignments, friendships, finance, illness etc… it is nice to have somewhere or something secure and reliable to fall back on. So what if that disappears?

As my recovery has progressed, I have found it less and less necessary to fall back on my eating disorder or to spiral into depression. Yet the change and challenges in life are making it more and more difficult to resist, it’s important to have a support network but I’ve never found it easy to make friends because I retreat too easily, I protect myself from inevitable rejection, I know I’m not the nicest person or the funniest person and I’m definitely not the prettiest person.

Finding a sense of belonging is in line with finding your identity, knowing who you are can lead to finding where you want to be. When you are yet to find out who you are or who you want to be, the belonging part becomes all the more difficult.

Perhaps a sense of belonging lies within oneself, in order to take on new things you have to be comfortable in yourself because your body is your mind’s home. They don’t always match up,  certainly my mind doesn’t want to live in my body because my mind has not yet accepted it; it still wants a smaller, skinnier body, one that doesn’t disgust my mind. Body’s change too, but they are always there, they need to be accepted and cherished, we are lucky to have a body to live in and the majority of us are lucky to have a house to live in too. To accept yourself means you can accept opportunities, welcome the outside world and be stable in yourself in order to take on the ever-changing world.