My personal training sessions perfected my technique and I paid extra for more effective weight loss equipment. Two days before my ‘breakdown,’ as a petite size 8 I was wearing a waist belt to break down fat before a high cardio session to maximize its intensity.
My body was broken. My memory and concentration deteriorated; I was irritable, had mood swings and developed a complete non-stop, uncontrollable obsession around food, weight and exercise.
I could blame my emotional trauma but I now know my rapid cycling bipolar had been triggered and the enormity of my ‘breakdown’ was expanding by the minute. The web of confusion, self-hate and low esteem was enraptured by an eating disorder that despite its destruction it somehow gave me a focus, but only temporarily.
There is no longevity in an eating disorder. No good ending. Only the need to delve deep, unravel and work towards recovery.
The inner voice of the eating disorder creeps up over time. We all have an inner critical voice. ‘You look too fat in that dress.’ ‘Your stomach is hanging out.’ ‘That colour looks awful on you.’ But usually these thoughts pop in and out of our heads and they don’t take over our entire thought processes, feelings and then impact every decision and behaviour we make.
The eating disorder’s inner voice takes over until that’s all we hear. If we weigh ourselves and are 1lb over what we expected we tell ourselves to punish ourselves and miss a meal or burn each calorie off. If we eat more than we should have we have failed and hate ourselves.
“Our brain trains us to believe that food can reach out to us like a friend but snatch that hand away and leave us lying their alone on the bathroom floor.”
Skinny, no eating, empty stomach equals achievement, whereas any food in your stomach is disgusting and a failure. And so the vicious cycle begins.
Women comment on your weight loss, you lap it up and it motivates you further. People say you look healthy, which in your mind means ‘fat’ and you need to work harder. You stop going out to eat for fear of looking at food that is banned from your head. You lie about having just eaten and sometimes eat a few mouthfuls to ‘prove’ to people that you eat to stop the questioning.
No-one warns you of the lack of sleep. No food in the body is like no fuel in the car. It doesn’t work properly. I often went to bed with an empty gnawing feeling in my stomach and could never get to sleep, managing about four hours maximum, convincing myself not to give in and eat.
I used to lie there and visualize my troubles in life and try to box each one up and bury it, hoping to empty my head and give myself some peace.
I think scientifically my body was screaming for food to the point my brain was being internally stabbed to respond.
For the first time in a long time I cooked a meal for my work friends, but got drunk. After they left I scraped each plate and gobbled the contents. Then, with a sudden taste for ‘substantial’ food I went to my freezer and defrosted old cakes, slice by slice, in the microwave, chewing on dry pasta sheets in between.
I filled my stomach like a balloon and I wanted to kill myself. I had broken the cardinal rule and invited distress, pain and failure into my life. I ran to the toilet and made myself sick. As I looked up I saw a slim, red faced, blotchy girl, with snot on her nose and eyes tired and bloodshot. She looked a mess and she looked broken.
The immediate relief of all the pain was attractive to me and I began the vicious purging cycle whenever I felt I had eaten too much.
Until the day everything unravelled.