Monday, 31 May 2010

I kissed a girl and she liked it

Choices and voices

I feel a terrible sense of guilt for not going swimming for three days. I don't have any intention to act on it, to go walking for miles or to cut back on calories, but it's there, in the background, taunting me.

However much I need to lose the weight and however much I am determinded to go about it in a healthy way, I guess I have to realise that I am in some ways always going to be vulnerable to that eating disordered voice.

And being aware of what is that voice and what are rational, healthy, normal feelings is fucking hard.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The bitter end

"It's a perfect day for letting go..."
- Robert Smith

I weighed myself in Boots yesterday and got a weight of 11st 12lbs and a BMI of 28.5. This is the heaviest I have ever been, ever, even after the year I came out of IP and ate whatever the fuck I wanted for months and then eventually ended up with COE gained upto a BMI of 27 something.

Well, I have some news for you, Eating Disorder, we are about to part ways for good. I do not need to compulsively overeat, to binge, to throw up or to starve myself. COE, BED, Bulimia, Anorexia, EDNOS, fuck off!

I am going to lose three stone and get my healthy, slim body back and see it for what it is. I am going to go swimming every day even if I feel like complete shit. I am going to eat above the 'starvation diet' amount of calories around eat around 1500 calories a day like all the sensible websites suggest. I am not going to use my own scale, in fact I might ever throw it out or at least put it somewhere out of sight and mind.

By the time it's uni again I will fit into a size 10 and be happy with that. I won't want less. I won't want skinny. I won't want anything under 120lbs.

This will not spiral into an eating disorder because it is an eating disorder I am trying to escape from, the evil clutches of bulimia and binging that make me feel a million times worse about myself and my life than anorexia ever did.

This is me and my mind, battling it out, and I WILL fucking win.

When the weight's come off I am going to cut back on the exercise, increase the calories, and maintain a healthy, 'comfortable in my own skin' weight.

Something that has eluded me for nearly a decade.

This is me and I am telling myself that I can and will do this.

That food is going to become neither enemy nor comfort.

That I can be normal.

That my relationship with food will be healthy, enjoyable and rational.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Not so innocent

"I guess I think I'm okay,
walked into the door again.
If you ask that's what i'll say,
And it's not your business anyway."
- Luca by Suzanne Vega

The case about the ten/eleven year olds attempting to rape an eight year old is sturring up way too many fucking memoires and feelings. When people say it's all a big overreaction I start to question every fucking feeling inside me. It's not as bad as murder is it? And kids can't sexually abuse other kids, right?

It may be easier for the world to think that it doesn't go on, that children are innocent and merely experimenting but they're wrong. It should be taken seriously because the consequences on the victim are so much more severe than the consequences of murder. Rape and sexual assault is a way of killing someone without them actually dying. If someone murders you, you're dead, if someone rapes you, you have to life with that every fucking day for the rest of your life. It is worse than murder. It's not a crime of passion or misunderstanding, it is someone setting out to control and degrade another person in the worst way possible. Children of all ages know the meaning of the word NO. Sure, kids play 'doctors and nurses' all the time, but they tend to do it in their bedrooms with their parents downstairs, they don't take a playmate out into an isolated field.

Right now, I'm trying to work through my own shit, the aftermath of an abusive relationship at the age of sixteen/seventeen, but this case is bringing up so much more than that. So many years of being dominated and forced by 'innocent little boys' into stuff I'll probably never talk about because I am that ashamed.

I can't cope with this shit. I just can't fucking cope...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Janet Street Porter and the rise of depression

I have decided to be brave and post the blog I wrote days ago but was too scared to put up. I feel like I'm finding my voice but at the same time it's not easy to say what you want...

The original article -

The backlash –!/note.php?note_id=393742524134&id=29813531299


You can feel free to hate me and tell me to fuck off but you cannot say that I have no right or idea about what I’m talking about. I am writing from the perspective of a genuine sufferer in response to an article, I am not writing the article myself. I am not a journalist nor am I attempting to me. This is just my space to write about whatever the Hell I want to.

First of all I need to get past the fact that it’s in The Mail. I am fundamentally against everything they stand for. I am anti-monarchy, anti-Conservative, anti-racist and above all else anti-homophobic. I am a left-wing creative writing student with tattoos and piercings and dyed hair, I’m bisexual and unpatriotic and think being sensitive about where you’re from (or anyone else if from) is a complete waste of time. In short, I am not the kind of girl you’d usually find agreeing with anything that’s written on the pages of that ‘newspaper’.

I have also spent nearly half of my life in the ‘crazy’ world of psychiatry and mental health, some of that time on psyche wards, meeting people with mental health issues, talking to them, being friends with them. I am not going to discredit that world at all. I am a part of it. I am, for all intense and purposes, ‘mentally ill’.

Unlike most people I know who have read ‘the article’, I didn’t feel angry or disgusted but found myself thinking seriously about what Porter was trying to say. I get the point that she is trying to make, about being empowered;

"It's bonkers, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, it's more productive to decide what we WON'T do, who we WON'T be bothering to be friends with, and tell ourselves that we are, in our own small way, bloody brilliant every single morning before we get up."

I do think that a lot of women suffer from terrible self-esteem as a result of the pressure to be some kind of 'wonder woman' which undoubtedly causes them problems in their life. But I am not entirely sure that dissatisfaction is the same thing as depression. I agree that the Sixties brought huge changes but it wasn’t all flower power and free love and one of those was a generation who wanted everything and believed that they could (or at least should) have it. If you don’t end up with it you will be unhappy with your lot and if you do end up with it you will be in a constant state of panic as to whether or not you’ll keep it. There is no doubt that this is stress. But stress is a part of life if you want to climb any kind of social or career ladder. It is, fundamentally, a choice that you make. Am I going to aim for the top of settle for wherever life decides to put me? Whether its greed or power or control or just simple self-satisfaction that motivates you makes no difference, it is still a choice.

I am a firm believer in the difference between being unhappy and being clinically depressed. I have friends who tell me that are depressed and I want to punch them because they are not, they are just unhappy with their jobs or their parents or their partners, and maybe that is just life and maybe to some people it isn't and it’s more than they can handle.

I can only speak for myself but I know that I am not a ‘trendy’ depressive. I am not a high flyer; I have very little in the way of career ambition. I have a working class background that is hugely embedded in my psyche, I am passionate about those less fortunate, I believe that poverty should and could be eradicated because there is more than enough money in the world for everyone to be happy and comfortable it’s just not very evenly shared out by governments.

Why am I depressed? Or what makes me qualified to say that what I feel is any different to what these others feel?

When I was sixteen I (unsucessfully) committed suicide just because the debate of whether to or not had been raging in my head for too long I wanted it to stop. It came in one day, for no external reason, it was just there, suddenly, and it consumed me. I take medication and for the most part it’s lost its potency. Things may happen in my life that make me upset or unhappy, but I am always reluctant to use the word depressed because to me, depressed is something so much greater than that.

I spent months in a psychiatric hospital and I know the difference between someone who is genuinely sick and depressed in the true, medical sense, and someone who has bitten off more than they can chew or doesn’t have quite everything that they want and, as much as I hate to admit it I think Porter has a point.

Depression is a word that gets flung around far too lightly, it’s become an adjective, when in reality it is disease that cripples you from the inside and makes the simplest of tasks, like getting dressed and talking to someone, absolutely impossible.

Stress is real, unhappiness is real, and maybe you should talk to someone who can help you balance the weight of things a little easier. But they’re not the same as clinical depression.

Nothing works, just living hurts...

"When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare

So my psych appointment was partially alright...

I managed to be half honest. I talked about my fears of consequences and she said that if I was an adult when the 'abuse' happened and it wasn't done by someone who was in contact with children then it would be up to me what action was taken. In a way I was reassured but not enough to admit the whole truth to her... But at least they know that something bad happened to, right? I feel like a failure for not being completely honest. She prescribed me an extra 25mg / 4 times a day of Seroquel to try and help with the panic attacks and anxiety (which is sort of helping) but I still feel like I'm not being listened to because I said I was suicidal and desperate and nothing happened, I just get sent out and told that maybe DBT is something that I might 'get' later on, like being normal is something I just have to learn. I wish it was that easy, I really fucking do. I went a bit stupid afterwards, felt like shit, taking too many pills, cutting and burning, it’s like I don’t care enough not to because all the fight has gone out of me. I’ve been trying so hard for so long and I just don’t have it in my anymore...

I don't know why but I emailed Carol (my care-co) and asked for an appointment so that I could arrange to have contact with a psych at home. I hate her and she drives me insane and she doesn't listen to me but it's really the only hope I've got of getting back in the system.

Everything just feels completely unbearable. Whenever I'm with people I want to be alone and when I'm alone I just want to do anything to make the shit stop. I know that it won't last forever but at the same time it seems like a lifetime between now and the end and the idea of doing an Ophelia gets more appealing with every day that doesn't feel better.

I was outside having a smoke the other night, watching all the cars and buses whizz past and there was a metal barrier between me and the road... If that hadn’t have been there I honestly think I would have stepped into the middle of the road.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

I don't know how I'm supposed to feel

"Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word.
Dr. Wick: Do you know what that means, ambivalence?
Susanna: I don't care.
Dr. Wick: If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would...
Susanna: It *means* I don't care. That's what it means.
Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings... in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action.
Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
Dr. Wick: Am I sane... or, am I crazy?
Susanna: Those aren't courses of action.
Dr. Wick: They can be, dear - for some.
Susanna: Well, then - it's the wrong word.
Dr. Wick: No. I think it's perfect."

- Girl, Interrupted

I walked out of DBT and had a panic attack. That is twice in the last week that my anxiety has got so bad that I’ve been physically sick from it. I’m used to a constant low level of anxiety, although it has got better since I’ve been on Seroquel, but now it is back with a vengeance, plus I have this added fear that it is going to explode. I wake up and feel like I’ve ran a marathon I am that exhausted from the nightmares and the huge effort of trying to wake myself up from them and get myself back to reality.

Reality has become a funny thing – my day time feels like a dream and my dreams feel like my real life. Every so often I am hit with the thought that this isn’t real, that I’m not really real, that I don’t exist, everything is hazy. Yet at other times everything is so vivid and graphic, everything smells and tastes of him, I cannot bare the taste of my mouthwash because it reminds me of him shaking me awake in the middle of the night to get me to give him whatever drinkable toiletries I’d brought in my bag. I can feel his handprint on the side of my face from where he slapped me because I’d tipped his vodka down the sink. I can remember the moment that I gave in and just went with it, because it was just so much easier to drink myself stupid at his request than to try and fight with him to stop.

I remember the night he found out I’d been self-harming and how angry he was, how he screamed at me for hours incoherently and then took me by the wrist and dragged me around the kitchen where his sister and her friends were to show them all my arm. I think that was the most traumatic thing of that night, the shame of being ‘outed’ and everyone’s less than positive reaction to the whole thing. I went into the bedroom, shut the door and drank a bottle of neat vodka and passed out... I could smell him in the dark when he came in, a mixture of vomit and whiskey and cigarettes, I remember telling him to go away because I’d had enough of his shit that I didn’t want to keep putting up with his outbursts. I remember him saying something like it obviously didn’t hurt me too much if I was cutting myself and that I must like violence and that he wouldn’t let me walk away without a fight.

I can remember feeling terrified because I wasn’t particularly strong, I was short and not eating right so I was weak and malnourished and my reactions were slow from all the vodka. I remember feeling cold and wondering where my clothes were or why I couldn’t breathe properly, then I realised that he was lying across my chest and the searing fucking pain between my legs. Then I passed out again and woke up dressed again with a note saying how sorry he was, that he knew he shouldn’t have fucked me but that I didn’t really put up much of a fight. He said that he was stressed out about everything in his life and that I didn’t help him and made it worse and drove him to drink and that I just needed to stop interfering and then he would never have had to get violent. Then he said that he couldn’t stand being alive anymore and that he was going to kill himself because I said I was going to leave him, and he thought that if we slept together then I would stay with him and that’s the only reason why he did it...

And then I never heard from him again (or anyone else who knew him) until a couple of years ago when he sent me an email telling me how brilliant his life was now, how he’d got off the booze and was training to be a teacher, and how he hoped I was alright and didn’t blame him for that night because it wasn’t really anything wrong to do and that he was sorry but he was just trying to save our relationship.

I never replied.

I felt sick and guilty and disgusting about every inch of myself. I kept drinking and drinking and ending up being fucked by men whilst I was too drunk to do anything about it and I didn’t care because I was already a slut, he made me into that person and like he said, it wasn’t really wrong.

The part of my brain that knew it was wrong got lost and I fought it and fought it but now I can’t quieten it anymore. I can’t deny the fact that it was rape because I looked at the law, and the law says that it is, and summer rolls around year after year and relentlessly eats away at my sanity. I feel panic and fear and anger and guilt and hatred. Nightmares and flashbacks and the feeling that bugs are eating away under my skin and that they have to come out somehow, I have to purge or bleed or burn them out somehow.

I am going to see my Leicester psychiatrist tomorrow and I want to get things sorted out but I just don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to get past the fear of not being believed or how painful it will all be to work through and I just want to curl up into a ball and die and not have to deal with any of this.

I don't know how to begin.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession

"Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted."
- Percy Shelley

I just received one of the best compliments of my life from a complete stranger;

“I like your poetry- it’s original which is rare”

I have always been desperate to have my own voice, my own style and to not be a complete and utter cliche and the fact that someone who doesn’t know me (and therefore doesn’t know about my hideous self-esteem and be inclinded to overcompliment or reassure me) means more than I could possible express even with the entire English Language at my disposel.

I feel validated as a writer when people tell me they like something I’ve wrote and especially when people tell me that it’s moved them or touched them in some way and espeically if people tell me that it’s unusual or unique or different. If people say that it’s MY OWN.

I probably sound like the most pretentious twat on the planet by saying all this but really, I am not arrogant in anyway, I am not even falsely modest. I have genuine, deep-seated insecurities that stop me from feeling pride, or like anything I do is good enough. So when people come along and say ‘hey Em, you’re doing a good job’ it’s incredibly hard to accept it and sit with it and not double guess it.

But today, I am just going to sit and smile and feel…. Dare I say it? Accomplished and proud of myself.

For writing.

Not for starving and losing weight and being generelly fucked-up and mental.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Anorexia and This Morning - who's the 'ignorant' party?

"People need help, advice and love, not websites telling you how to lose your last pound, or scantily clad, deeply anorexic celebrities parading around flaunting their golden bones."
- Billie Piper

I am very, very fustrated that I can't directly message Phillip Schofield and give my own thoughts. Twitter isn't very well designed for meaningful or deep conversations.

First of all, the blog entry that kicked it off and the response;

@ilonacatherine what an ignorant blog. Do you think that we do these things for sensationalism? We had an expert on the condition there who
was very happy in our line of questioning and who had worked with Nikki. She left saying many sufferers would be helped.. the fact that you believe a sufferer of this condition would be helped ...
by us is insulting in itself... That information is available at the click of google, but without the back-up and support we went on to provide. Get into the real world!! oh and what's more, how sensitive of you to dismiss someone who has struggled so much, as Marmite.


Okay, first of all, how can she be ignorant? She is a sufferer and you are a television presenter, I’m pretty sure most people would be of the opinion that she has more wisdom and insight on the matter that you could ever do, unless of course you became ill yourself which is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

You believe that you can get help for this disease by clicking on Google? I’m sorry but you can’t. It’s not as easy as that, it takes months of waiting lists and fitting in of certain (irrelevant) criteria. More often than not it comes down to a post code lottery of whether or not you get help, or the right help, or enough help. This is a lottery with people’s lives. Recently, an acquaintance of mine died, left in the wilderness of forms and funding, yet her family tuned into your television show to see Nikki getting automatic treatment rights because she was on a reality television show, because she was famous. Do you really thing that’s fair on them, fair on any of us? If you are doing it for one sufferer then do it for us all, or send the money you got paid for that show to b-eat.

The Marmite comment wasn’t an insult but a description, some people you just love or hate and it has fuck all to do with how much they’ve suffered. I would never nor would Ilona dismiss someone who is ill, that was not the intention.

The thing that I really feel the need to comment on is this part;

"Her first response was to say that she had tried every trick in the book. Fine. She went on to give an endless list of the extremes she went to in order to trick her doctors into thinking she was getting better. Far from fine."

Nikki is clearly not of sane mind, because you are not when they’re starving themselves and underweight, but you are and prompting her to go into details about how she hid her condition from doctors is plain irresponsible. I am specifically thinking about when Billie Piper ‘came out’ and she REFUSED to talk about the specific details of her illness as she said that she would only have copied them when you was in the grip of her illness and didn’t want other people to do the same.

Do you realise that in the Eating Disorder world, rather than the ‘real’ one you claim Ilona ‘get with’, patients in hospitals spend a huge chunk of their time watching day time television, that a vast majority of them would be clinging to every little trick and tip to stay sick and fool the people around them. Do you really think you have helped those sufferers? I honestly don’t believe that a single expert in the condition worth their weight would have been happy about it. In fact they would have been far busier trying to save people’s lives to want to press their face into the media world of book promotion and sensationalistic memoir writing. Those are the kind of experts who save lives, who I owe my own life to today.

Perhaps you have helped a handful of people to reach out and get help, but are the ones you’ve helped get or stay sick worth it?

Friday, 7 May 2010

I wish I didn't do politics

"We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice."
- Woody Allen

Today feels like one of the worst days of my entire life, waking up to David Cameron's fat gloating face.

To be blunt, I am so angry at the ignorance of people, the fact that probably only a handful of voters actually took the time to read the manifestos or to have a quick look through the history books.

It's about principles, not character and charisma, or atleast it should be.

I remember what my Grandad told me when I went with him to vote when I was little. Tories want to take from the poor and give to the rich. Labour want to take from the rich and give to the poor. Liberals want to take from no-one and give to everyone.

One of those thing is impossible in practise.

I am sick of hearing how brilliant Nick Clegg is, the one hit media wonder who's 'support' didn't quite manifest itself into votes. Big fucking suprise there. Do people realise that the Lib Dems have about only a 4% approval rating? How full of empty shit Clegg was. I am sick of people saying how against the Tories they are and yet how they're too lazy to do anything about it or to make that sacrifice and realise that sometimes it is not about voting for who you want, but for tho one who is most likely to keep the ones that you really don't want out. It's marketed as a three horse race when in reality it's just a two. The party that I am in support of didn't even have a representative in my area.

I don't know if I am the only one who feels the weight of past genreations when it comes to the election but I feel it so hard.

I am angry and upset and I have an exam in under an hour that I will most definately fail because I cannot focus on anything.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Nearing the end

“Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates.”
- Abbott Lawerence Lowell

Right, it's the last week of uni, all my assingments are done and ready to be handed in, I have two exams to get through and then it's all over.

As most people do, I have gained rather a lot of weight over the course of it. I've heard people talk of the 'freshmen fifteen' and that has most definately happened to me. Not only do I have that excess weight to carry around (which has put me firmly in the overweight BMI range and at my heighest ever weight) but last summer was a tough one and a situation occured that lead to me eating in an incredibly erratic and unhealthy way, neglecting the fact I am vegetarian, binging and gaining and binging and purging yet still gaining. Other than that uni has mostly been okay, I overdosed in October and SI'ed serverely enough to be medically hospitalised overnight last term but mostly I have tried to grit my teeth and get through it. I'm in DBT but still struggling a lot with the BPD diagnosis and the stigma attached. In a way I don't feel like I am treated as someone who has mental health issues but who is just 'awkward', I don't know how much of that is fact and how much is just my own insecurities manifesting themselves.

Anyway, this time next week it will all be over and I will have survived my first year. There have been times when I've felt validated as a writer and those moments alone have made the whole thing worth it. I would have liked to have had flatmates but my accomodation was crap and I only made friends from my course so I got quite lonely and spent a lot of time coming back home. I think that loneliness contributed to a lot of the 'slips' that happenened and increased my depression.

I'm fairly certain that most people didn't expect me to make it but I have done, and I am at least in part a little proud of the fact that I am still in one piece.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Ink, metal and hair dye

"In all ages, far back into prehistory, we find human beings have painted and adorned themselves."
- H.G. Wells

Some girls need to wear full make-up before they'll even leave the house. Some wear designer clothes, showing off their material wealth with a little logo you can barely see unless you're looking for it. Some girls get out of bed looking like they've just been to the hairdressers. I am not and have never been one of those girls. I have never been 'beautiful'.

I was never taught how to put on make-up despite having three older sisters, I was overweight and ashamed and either wore my school uniform or tracksuits and I had a terrible fear of hairdressers from the age of six onwards and only in the last few years have I conquered it, although still not entirely enjoying the experiance as most girls do. Despite this I had beautiful hair. Long, wavy and naturally a brilliant shade of brunette.

At fourteen I'd had enough of being overweight and bullied so I went on a diet that turned into and eating disorder that turned into severe anorexia nervosa. When I was eighteen and at my worst the lack of nurishment made my hair fall out and fade into a dull, lank, lifeless mess. Fairly representative of the girl I had become. I turned to hair-dye, pinks and purples, bright colours to take any focus away from my body and face. When I got out of the hospital I cut most of my hair off for the first time in my life because it was no longer beautiful. It was an incredibly liberating experiance. I kept dying it different colours. I wore band t-shirts and jeans and genrelly didn't attract any attention elsewhere.

Over the last couple of years I've been more drastic, prefering to wear short, androynous styles dyed bright shades of red and purple and I have discovered clothes and stopped being afraid to stand out. Settling for a style that's somewhere between vintage and soft goth. I take my inspiration from Vince Noir and buy things that I love no matter how bright or shiny or glittery. I got my lip pierced and wasn't scared of the attention it might bring to my face.

I recently got my first and second tattoo and I can honestly say that I adore them both. I was sitting in the bath just ten minutes ago and staring at my ink and feeling completely in love. They are beautiful and they are a part of me. Therefore a part of me is beautiful.

My body image isn't great right now, a part of me doubts that it will be. I am at my highest ever weight with a BMI of 28 which is above what is considered medically healthy. Yet, in every other way my self image is better than it has ever been. More than that, I feel like I am developing my own identity, becoming the person that I have always been too scared to be.

I am not afraid to stand out, in fact I rather relish in it.

Ink, metal and hair dye are not only a part of my body but a part of my personality, and they make me feel just that little bit less hideous and sometimes just that little bit beautiful.