Letting go of those clothes was so important. It was such a tremendous relief to finally donate them and know they weren’t in my life any more.
My girlfriend had left me a few pairs of jeans that she’d grown out of, and it felt wonderful to have clothes that fit me well. In addition, in a beautiful gesture, she had ordered me a collection of t-shirts online in a more comfortable size.
I have to recommend this for anyone struggling with the weight gain that can come in recovery. Go out and buy clothes that fit you well. Don’t worry about the size. Cut the size tags off! (I did) You will feel so much more comfortable in clothes that aren’t reminding you of how small you used to be.
This was a really big deal for me. I had so many clothes that had fit me when I was at my smallest, and the idea of throwing them away terrified me. It was like admitting to myself that I was going to be fat forever (it should be noted that in all likelihood, I was not fat, I just felt like I was).
I remember getting unbelievably upset about this one skirt. It was just a skirt, nothing special about it, but it had been my one work skirt that fit me really well and made me look feminine. Now, what you need to know about me is that I often dress in an androgynous way for work, but on some days I like to look girly, both to express myself and to avoid workplace stereotypes about how lesbians look (don’t even get me started on that conversation). When I realised that I couldn’t fit into this skirt any more, I felt like I was losing my ability to express my femininity, and that I would be judged for always wearing slacks to work. It felt like a really big deal. If you add to that the fact that I was feeling pretty fragile at that point in my recovery, it’s not surprising that I ended up in a teary mess about it. The problem was, I genuinely could not convey to the people around me (in particular my poor mum) why this was so important. To everyone else, it just seemed like I was getting incredibly upset about a dumb skirt.
I think these kinds of situations occur pretty regularly during recovery. As a word of advice to those supporting loved ones with eating disorders, depression or anxiety: even if it doesn’t seem important to you, even if you don’t get it - if your loved one is upset about it, that means it matters.
This was such a shock to me when it happened. I’d been seeing myself all this time, but the image I was seeing was so different. All of a sudden I was looking at myself and seeing a reality - seeing how underweight I’d been. I couldn’t understand how I’d looked so thin and been unable to see it. I finally had some insight into the shocking image my girlfriend had been presented with all those months ago.
It was actually my girlfriend who encouraged me to tell my mum. She knew that this whole thing was becoming too big for us, and that we needed extra support. My mum didn’t really know what to say, but she wanted to help if she could. She’s remained a source of support for me ever since, and has even come with me on some doctor’s appointments. I feel very lucky.
Regular blood tests are just a part of life with an ED. You may think you can bluff your way through, but they’re very telling. I still count myself lucky to have a GP who’s so attentive, even though at moments like these I feel so ashamed of myself.
I really struggled to value myself, and that led to me choosing only the cheapest food when I was cooking for myself alone instead of my girlfriend and I. Here’s a tip: chicken necks are disgusting. Don’t buy them.
Periods in which my girlfriend was away were a huge challenge. She was an incredibly healthy influence in my life, and we always ate in a relatively balanced way. We would sit down each week and plan our meals, then make an event of shopping together, which felt very loving. It made the whole food thing seem like less of a problem. But planning and shopping alone? NIGHTMARE. Everything seemed overwhelming again. My challenge was to try to keep my eating at least somewhat on track while she was gone.
I was very lucky in this instance that the women I was speaking with all responded with genuine curiosity. They hadn’t had any experience ‘up close’ with anorexia, and really wanted to learn more. I felt like I was providing something valuable, and didn’t feel at all judged. If anything, they encouraged me, giving me a sense of pride about my journey so far.