Tag Archives: eating disorder

Past, present & future

16 Years ago I: Was 5. In kindergarten at my local primary school. I was in a composite K/1 class and I remember making pancakes and writing down the recipe – it’s still pasted in my mum’s recipe book. I went to my friend’s house after school everyday because my parents worked. We spent a lot of afternoons taking their dog for walks down the fire trails to the river and painting empty coffee jars with glass paints.

10 Years ago I: Was 11. I’d changed schools into an accelerated stream at a school about half an hour from home. I travelled to school each day via train, bus and walking, which took me about an hour each way. I had gymnastics training four days a week and was playing netball, sailing and continuing to learn the flute & piano. Each day for lunch I packed four vita weats with vegemite, and I remember one day one of the teachers wouldn’t let me play soccer at lunch because they said I hadn’t eaten enough. I was self harming daily – usually with broken glass that I would collect on my walks home from school. Often I would pretend to be sick in order to stay home alone and smash beer bottles from the recycling bin. I got in trouble for refusing to take my jumper off during hot days at school. My older brother was getting heavily involved in drugs, which all came out towards the end of the year.

5 Years ago I: Was 16. I spent the year mostly in hospitals, both public and private on general psych, mood & eating disorder units. My birthday, christmas and new years were all spent on an eating disorder unit with a tube up my nose. I started seeing a private psychologist after having discharged myself from the child & adolescent area health service, but refused to speak about what was going on for me. I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I had an eating disorder – despite the hospitalisations and clearly failing health. Twice I overdosed, waking up in hospital and pronouncing that I was fine. Thankfully, they didn’t believe me.

1 Year ago I: Was 20. Had to quit my job as a nanny for two amazing, amazing children. I should have died several times, but thanks to my treatment team, my friends and some helpful strangers, I didn’t. I spent a long time under a legally ordered treatment plan, locked in a public psych ward, having 3x weekly ECT. I also spent time in a private hospital’s ICU – where I found that the thing I missed most was fresh air. I somehow continued to take a full time load at university studying by distance. I don’t have many memories and my journals don’t make much sense, but I know that on December 2nd I was discharged from hospital on the first effective medication regime in seven years, which (along with more work than I ever thought possible) has changed my life infinitely for the better.

Yesterday I: I woke up, healthy, with the knowledge that the world hasn’t beaten me. I attended the final day of the 8th Australian & New Zealand Adolescent Health Conference, and it was incredible. I left feeling capable, inspired, and motivated that I can make a difference. I came home and did some study for my biopsychology exam next Friday. I went to the doctor, then dropped by a friend’s place to drink tea and watch a movie. By the time I got home I was exhausted, but feeling as though I’m finally in the right place, headed down the right road.

Today I: Slept in and had breakfast on the back porch with my kitten. I spent a couple of hours studying biopsychology and going over my statistics notes for exams, then had an afternoon nap. I’m now watching Community (hilarious!) with my sister. I should probably be studying, but I’m still somewhat exhausted post-conference.

Tomorrow I: Will continue to study for biopsychology and statistics. I will be grateful that I’m alive, that I have wonderful people around me and that I am entirely capable of doing and being absolutely anything. I’m sure I will learn something new, and find some beauty where I haven’t seen it before. I will be ready for whatever comes.

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Memories & musings

Disclaimer: this post is a bit all over the place, my brain seems to have reached its limit from studying. Apologies.

Today I saw my doctor at one of the hospitals I’ve spent a lot of time at over the last six years. I hate going back there – seeing patients I know, smiles from nurses who have watched me grow up, tiny stairwells and intermittent duress alarms going off… but for me I think the worst reminder is the smell – the stifled, musty air that you become enveloped in when you’re living in a place with no opening windows and round the clock air conditioning. It’s so easy to forget that there is a whole world outside.

I saw my doctor today to get my scripts for overseas sorted and to have him write me a letter for customs. We covered the basics: sleep, mood, anxiety, university, friends – and then he leaned back in his chair with his hands folded beside his head, and smiled. “It’s so good to see you doing well. This has been an amazing year for you”. While I already know it myself, it’s always nice when someone else acknowledges how far I’ve come.

He has asked me whether I would be interested in talking to some of the eating disorder inpatients about my experiences. I haven’t yet given him a definite response. It’s been just over three years since I was last discharged from the eating disorder unit, and I’m not sure that it’s a place I ever want to set foot in again.

My first admission to this eating disorder unit I was fifteen, weighing the same as I had at age eight. The next three and a half years saw me getting slightly better, slightly worse, slightly better, a lot worse. Screaming matches with staff, learning how to remove and re-insert my own nasogastric tube, running on the spot for hours on end, hiding ipecac in the ceiling tiles. I’m not even sure how things got to where they are now. Little by little, life without an eating disorder became more bearable, and I learnt to trust myself. While I can’t be sure that I’ll never need another admission to the acute or mood disorders unit, I know wholeheartedly that I will never let myself end up on unit four again.

I no longer feel jealous when I see the skeletal girls sitting in the smoking area, talking about their meal plans, who is on medical bedrest and who is in wheelchairs. Eating disorders used to be so alluring – the pull can be unbearably strong… But finally, I no longer feel it. I’ve been there, and I’ve come back. I’ve seen that there is more to life than numbers and obsessions.

It’s a strange experience for me, to not be one of the patients. More often than not I’ve entered or left this hospital via the back doors, reserved for ambulances and police. Being admitted, sedated, transported via ambulance from a public hospital, or leaving, completely out of my head in police custody after my doctor has written up a legal schedule. Today I walked out the front doors, into the sun, got in my car, and drove away.

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