I will just come out and say it- I have had eating disorders of some form since I was 11 years old, maybe even younger. There!! Everyone in my family knows it but it is a shameful thing- never discussed and the worlds worst kept secret. Well- I am not ashamed. I don’t understand what happened- why at 11 years old I would drink warm salt water to make myself sick after food. How did I even know to do that? There was no social media back then.. no real media never mind social media. We had a maximum of 5 TV channels. This was 1989. Ireland. We barely had electricity. I don’t know what triggered me. But I hated myself. I self harmed. I was depressed. It didn’t take long to move from drinking salt water to putting my fingers down my throat after every meal.. After dinner I would say I needed a shower and with the running water I would get rid of what I had just eaten. I didn’t lose weight but it felt good to purge. Until I fell pregnant with my first child at 34 I was bulimic, then anorexic, then bulimic again, then anorexic again, I discovered laxatives pretty early on too and thoroughly abused them on a daily basis. Oh boy- I got myself into some ‘uncomfortable’ situations when the laxatives would kick in and there wouldn’t be a toilet nearby- or someone was in the toilet. It took every fiber of my being to hold it until I got to one! I know- it is gross but I’m writing this because I know I am not the only one who lived/lives like this- and if you can relate and if it makes you feel a little less alone then I will suffer this slight embarrassment. The self harming wasn’t really harming, in my eyes- it was a release. Sometimes I felt my head was going to explode from all the feelings and pain I felt- I had to release the pressure. I started at my wrists but then in some peoples eyes it was attention seeking (maybe I was attention seeking- I needed attention – what is so wrong with that?) I moved it to the tops of my legs- somewhere no one would see. I enjoyed the pain and I really felt a release when the blood would come. Again this behaviour was on and off until very recently.. my last big one was when Michael Jackson died!! It may sound ridiculous but I loved him… from as far back as I can remember. He was the only constant friend I had. His songs saved me from myself many times. I escaped my own head when I listened to them and then there were the songs were he spoke just to me and made my world so much less lonely and I would sob my heart out. When he died- I didn’t know how to process it. He was my best friend (don’t judge me- okay judge me) but I didn’t know him! I sliced MJ into my upper leg and the blood was a release of feelings I didn’t know how to navigate. Goodbye MJ x
As I mentioned before I grew up in rural Ireland- back when it was rural. I have 3 brothers and my mum and dad. I am the second eldest. I had a great childhood- running free through the fields. We prayed the Rosary every night. In the summer we stayed out until it got dark. My grandparents lived down the fields and I adored them. We spent all our free time there. In term time we walked to school. We wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry but when we saw the school bus pull up we ran for our lives- every day the same pattern! We walked home from school- taking about 3 hours to get home, stopping off in granny’s for her freshly baked soda bread! In the evening we were sent back down to out grandparents for milk. They had a dairy farm and we got milk from them. There was such freedom. I am sad my children will never know that freedom. I passed my 11 plus and was put into one of the top classes in high school. I don’t remember being unhappy there but I started getting kidney infections and coming out of school early. My GP recognised pretty quickly on that I was depressed. He asked me and I burst into tears. How did he know? He sent me to counselling. My parents were mortified. What did I have to be depressed about? I just needed a boot up the arse. Maybe I did. Counselling didn’t do too much for me. I had the Catholic guilt for being depressed on top of being depressed- I couldn’t reconcile the two.. I had no right to be depressed but I was so deeply sad and I hated myself. I was in and out of counselling until I was 27. At 27 I was going through my anorexia phase and had to go once a week to me weighed. This weigh-in just motivated me to lose more weight every week! I stopped going and started partying- literally. I would go to parties at weekends that lasted 72 hours then after work back to the pub. I was losing weight and having a great time. I slept- I worked, I partied. I didn’t eat. The skinnier I was the happier I was. I knew it was the answer to all my problems! Then I met my now husband and he saved my life. I do tell him this. He partied but he ATE and he played sport and he worked and he was SOOOOOOO confident. He was almost cocky (Okay he was completely cocky but I could see more to him) He caught on fairly quickly that I had a problem with food and he did his best to understand. He stuck by me even though I gave him hell. He loved me and I still hated myself. His love truly helped me. He helped me see there was something worth loving. I started eating and he still loved me. I had meltdowns over eating and he still loved me. I had anxiety and he still loved me. He still loved me. The partying stopped and we spent nights in. We argued A LOT. I won’t take all the blame. New relationships are difficult. But I know I pushed him away at times, to test him. He always came back. Thankfully. He quickly became my safe place. He has seen me at my absolute worst and at my best and all the bits inbetween and he still loves me. I still have anxiety attacks. I STILL DREAM about making myself sick!! I still have some form of an eating disorder. I don’t make myself sick(very occasionally I might get one in- I mean once every 6 months- not even) I don’t starve myself, I don’t take laxatives (maybe once every couple of months) But I have a controlled eating- I can’t let myself feel full or I will want to be sick and take laxatives. I know I don’t eat very much and definitely nothing nutritional. I survive on tea and toast when my husband works late and when he’s home we eat salads and some form of meat/fish (healthy when he is there) At the weekends I save all my calories for cheese! Every week I was going to start again but I don’t know how to eat. I haven’t eaten properly all my life. I have to relearn everything. When my GP said he wanted to check for MS it was a real wake up call. How could I expect to be healthy- I don’t feed myself. This is where I am today. Starting a healing journey – hopefully.