It’s eating disorder awareness week, and having suffered from an eating disorder myself I always like to acknowledge it in some way. To be honest this year inspiration is running thin. What with my current job destroying my mental health and meaning those eating disordered thoughts are creeping back in and this ME flare up which is relentless could god forbid I could just phone up and call in sick when I’m still climbing. That internalised guilt is real as well as internalised ableism.
Anywho on with the post!
I’ve been in the eating disorder recovery community for years, own recovery My own recovery starting in the summer/autumn of 2013. I’ve been through many a EDAW and had to deal with those before and after pictures. Before I knew better, I may have even participated in this trend myself.
But I feel as though these pictures, this type of awareness misses the point. It caters to the middle class white skeletal female version of what an eating disorder is. It caters to and perpetuates the stereotype which is not at all relatable or a representative depiction of eating disorders as a whole.
This image and reinforcement ignores the fact that anorexia isn’t the only eating disorder, as well as that anyone can get an eating disorder. Anyone of any race, size, socio-economic background.
Most dangerously these pictures continue the misconception that an eating disorder is just about weight. This is damaging on all counts but most importantly on the likelihood of and the success of treatment for the disorder. I know myself, only a tiny part of my eating disorder journey was spent underweight and less of that was spent emaciated. I did have anorexia and further through my recovery compulsive exercise and orthorexia but this isn’t the case for the majority of eating disorder sufferers. Many more have bulimia, binge eating disorder or OSFED who may never become underweight or may be overweight. This misconception is also damaging for those who are underweight or who will in the future end up under weight. It can make everyone think they’re recovered when ED recovery is about so much more than weight restoration. An eating disorder is a mental illness, thus to recover the mind needs to recover and this can often take years.
Instead of posting images that focus on weight I believe we should take weight out of the equation and think about warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder instead.
These can include:
Being preoccupied with weight/shape
Being preoccupied with food
Denying themselves food
Going to the bathroom straight after a meal
Constantly making excuses as to why they’re not eating
Not eating in public
Wearing different clothing than usual – i.e more baggy
Overexercising or exercising with the wrong motivations in mind.
There are many others, but these are just a few from the top of my head. I personally use a traffic light system to maintain my own recovery. Green – alls good. Amber – I’m showing a few personal warning signs but not really acting on them. Red – I’m acting on my disordered thoughts. I find this really helps me keep check on myself.
I hope this helps raise some awareness and explain some of the issues with focusing on just one aspect of a very complex set of mental illnesses!
Today I want to make a blog post about well the title says it all really. I feel it’s a common belief from the none mentally ill population that people are selfish, when infact maybe even unknowingly are suffering from a mental illness. Ive heard many a person say suicide is selfish. But they don’t give any thought into how a person who has reahced that level of depression is feeling. Yes it may come across as selfish but to a person with a mental illness. Suicide or any action isn’t for selfish reasons it’s because they can’t see any other way.
Lets just take an example from today that happened to me. Today I was mant to be going to the races and for lunch for my grandads birthday but this moring I couldn’t handle it. I thought about it. I really did think about trying to go. Trying to challenge myself so hard and I thought about ths not for me. But because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didnt want to be a disapointment as per ususal. But I looed at some sample menues and decided I couldn’t handle it. I mean the fact that they were sample menus would mean a level of uncertainty in not knowing what I could have. What if there was nothing I liked? Nothing atleast half safe? On top of that there wuld be the calorie issue. This 3 course meal would lead to too many calories. Too many unknown calories. Again that uncertainty. Would I get the nutrition I’m after? Probably not. And it’s not just the food it’s the being around people and food all day. It all seemed too much.
And yes I felt guilty for maing the decision not to go and I still feel guilty just not as so now I’ve had some time to think and calm down a bit. I know my mum and brother think Im selfish for sure. Both saying I’m wasting money… And oay my brothers 9, he can be forgiven. But my mum. She knows I’m mentally ill. I would hope she’d be more understanding. Apparently not.
But whatever people think I’m not selfish. Im mentally ill and yes sometimes that may make me come across to others as me being selfish and rude but that is the way things are at this moment in time. The best thing I can do is to work towards getting better and maybe one day I’ll be able to go out to eat even where there’s uncertainty as to the menu, calories and atmosphere.
Today marks 6 weeks since I started recovering from my eating disorder again after relapsing and I thought I’d make a blog post abou what I’ve gained in those last 6 weeks. Other than weight of course.
Probably the most important thing first. Happiness. I’ve finally started enjoying life and feeling actually happy.
Fitness – six weeks ago 20 miniutes of hiit killed me I’ve done 30-60 mins every day since saturday and I’m fine. (todays workout was hard though) I couldn’t imagine ever being able to do that 6 weeks ago. Looking forward to starting up running again in the spring! (Winter running is not fun)
Intelligence – I was two marks of an A* in my business mock. It came as such a shock to me. I know without the carbs that wouldn’t have happened.
Enoying food taste and flavours – I’m slowly learning to appreciate food as what it is and not worry so much. It is still an issue but little changes are being made by the meal.
Energy – I’m no longer constantly zombified!
Sleep – I am sleeping better most of the time. Some night I do still only get 5 or 6 hours but it is better than the 4-6 I was getting before I started recovering again.
I come to you today to discuss energy requirements in recovery.
2 years ago when I started recovery I did not for one second belive that I would need 3000 calories a day. I mean it’s excessive isnt it?
It really isn’t. To come out of my relapse I have been trying to listen to my body, it’s the best way forwards and yes while still counting calories. I found out I have been clocking up 3000+ a day.
This is so scary, it honestly is. My eating screams that it’s too much , that I shouldn’t be eating that extra afternoon snack or that extra pancake. That it will make me fat. I have come to realise that it’s not true. I have a raging appetite because Im under my body’s set point. I need to gain to feel well again. Too succeed in my A levels. I have also now come to realise that.
I completely messed up my law mck on thursday, despite doing plenty of revision and knowing all the material, apart from the last quesion… but my brain was not functioning in the exam I attribute that to not eating all morning. My brain was underfueled, of course it wouldn’t function the way I’d like it to.
On the other hand on monday I fueled my brain for my business mock. Turns out I was two marks off an A*! Amazing really, considering I’ve been a walking zombie all term and the time pressure in BUSS3. I never believed I could do it. But I did.
Our body’s need food, food is fuel. And food is meant to be enjoyed. If god didn’t intend for food to be enjoyed we wouldn’t have so much to choose from.
Stay strong my lovely recovery warriors and keep on fighting!
An eating disorder is the demon inside of you, the one that can’t be got rid of by exorsism or any other religious means.
It’s the voice that is trying to kill you.
It’s the control, for an out of control life.
It’s a voice that pretends to be a friend; lies to you – breaks you.
She takes away your Quality of life, she takes away what living truley is.
An eating disorder is a mental illness which consumes every thought.
She sends you panicking over weight gain, weight maintenance, weight lost. She sends you panicking over that number on the scales.
That number on the tape. You have a 26inch waist lets get it to 24, 23, 22, 21, 20…. She tells you you can never be too skinny, she tells you you must lose more although not everyones eating disorder started because they wanted to lose weight.
It’s just that losing weight, the focus of losing weight. It distracts you from the problems in every day life. Soon starvation has a sense of euphoria associated with it, self destructive behaviours. Purging. You do them to cope with what’s going on with life, it isn’t really to lose weight. That’s just what she says.
If you do this, you will be beautiful.
That’s one thing we all want. To be loved, to be beautiful to be accepted.
And that is what an eating disorder is. The demon inside you, the voice inside of you that promises all of these good things.
She makes you latch on to her grip, get deeper and deeper into it. You never realise that she is out to kill you.
A year today, I started my recovery Journey. At this point I do not think I was underweight, or if I was it was very borderline. That’s because you don’t have to be underweight to have an eating disorder and you don’t have to be underweight to recover.
I have relapsed, ended up “significantly undwerweight” as my triggering doctor mentioned, that day when I entered the room, alone, wanting to recovery but not wanting to recover. I said I ate normally but that was a lie. That was september 1st 2013. I started recovering before-hand. A year ago today.
After a few long talks with my mentor I didn’t want to stay sick. I didn’t want food to be such the controlling power it had become over the past 5 years. I chose to try and fight against it. Actually make an effort to eat “Normally” At first I did lose a little more weight, then I maintained. I was only eating 1200 calories, but it was a good start. I started to increase my calories, knowing I needed to gain weight. 2000-2500. I tried to eat healthily. It was all good. Actually recovery was quite fun.
That morning… that dreadful morning in the summer holidays when I had stepped on the scales and gained 1/2lb. YES 1/2LB So I started restricting again, 900-1200 calories if I remember rightly. I lost 2lb in 3 days…. Don’t ask me how. On Holiday straight after I had a raging appittie and ate 4000+ calories most day, I am sure of it. Although it was all unknown and therefor could not count. I gained 3lb that week. That’s when the relapse really started.
I was underweight already but 3lb. It was too much! That was when I started restricting to a MAXIMUM of 900 calories a day. I tried to fight it. Part of me still wanted to get better. I tried to challenge myself, I just felt so awful. I thre food in the bin, pretended I had eaten it. I remember once I had awful knee pain and wouldn’t take ibuprofen. Do you know why?
Because of 0.5 calories
Now that’s just a little extreme right? I had to be empty, I barley at any of dinner with my family, but just enough to keep them unsuspecting. As the weight dropped off the fights started. I found it hugely unfair that my brothers didn’t have to eat dinner but I did? It wasn’t even like I had much of an appitite by that point, I could only eat a few mouthfulls and I felt sick to my stomach. It was awful.
As I had said previously, I was trying to fight it, it was just so hard. That was when I started to binge and oh god did that make me feel awful. See I have this phobia of throwing up and I had binged 4 times within a week. That sunday evening I couldn’t sleep. I felt so sick, I knew it was because of the food. I remember spending nights purposfully keeping the window open, leaving off the duvet, doing endless sit-ups and lunges. Anything to burn off all that fat. Discretly burn off that fat, without my parents knowing.
I remember when my form tutor said “It’s because you are slim.” SLIM! SLIM! That wasn’t good enough for me. When a class mate said “Your so incredibly skinny.” That was good enough for me. “Skinny. Skinny.” Yes I liked that, being refered to as skinny.
So at some stage picked myself back up, I got my dad to make me breakfast to make sure I ate it. 2 slices of toast. 1 Jam. (NO BUTTER OR SPREAD) 1 Marmite (NO BUTTER OR SPREAD). That was when I really started to get better and also when recovery turned into some sort of living hell at times. When I realsed how triggering the world truly is.
Not many people knew about my eating disorder, at first. Eventually I learnt to become more open about it. Which is why I started blogging. I want to raise awareness and show people that they are not alone in this.
The weight gain stage is terrifying, stepping on the scales is terrifing. Even today. There are some days I can’t bring myself to eat cake, some days I can’t bring myself to eat lunch, or dinner. Some days I majorly overeat. (Like today) But I can honestly say things get better. I am in a better position both mentally and phsycially than I was this time last year. I’m happier, I can walk up the stairs without feeling like I’m about to have a heart attack and I actually enjoy life; even though most of it is spent in my room atm cause exams and shiz.
I weighed in at 9st this morning. I still feel fat, I still feel like it’s too much and I havn’t come to accpet my body fully yet but I am getting there and I am working towards it. I give myself days where I don’t count calories atall. (Weekends) and only rough estimate some of the time. Now I am trying to learn to listen to my body. It’s hard, but in the end I am sure that it will be worth it.
The last year has been a whirlwind full of emotions but if there is one thing I would like to end this on, it’s that:
If you read my last post you would know that recently my climbing ability has plummeted to an all time low. Focus. I don’t focus. I don’t think. So until I get my talent back I am going to be focusing on focusing. I’m going to start climbing things down. I climbed at my best at the end of todays session when I really slowed it down. I didn’t care about the grades or the colour of the hold just focusing on getting to the top. Aiming for a hold and getting that hold int he easiest and most technical way possible. So that is what I am going to be practicing. Focus. No grades. No colours. Just learning how to focus again. I do have a comp in two weeks! It would be useful for me to have my focus back by then to it at-least looks like I can climb something. On a plus climbing was better today as I did not let my ED get to me and I did not compare myself to everyone else. Yes I am the worst climber ever but as long as I enjoy it does my ability really matter?
Who wants some?
So today we had cake at climbing and I said I didn’t like cake “What you don’t like cake?” Ok everyone who knows about my eating disorder knows that me saying I didn’t like cake was a complete and utter lie. I LOVE CAKE! My eating disorder makes me feel bad for even admitting it… *sigh*. So yes I told a little lie cause I couldn’t tell my climbing instructor about my eating disorder. I see why it would be useful but I worried about the follow-on conversation. I’m way to fat to have an ED. He probably wouldn’t believe me even if I did say. So ok. I let my eating disorder dictate whether or not I ate cake. I couldn’t eat it at the climbing gym. JUST NO! Looking at the cake sent my heart racing. 1000 b/pm. The sound of cake made me want to try and engage my pathetic gag reflex and purge it. I’ve never successfully made myself sick before and I did not want to use my behaviors at the climbing gym. It’s a place for fun not to eating disorder behaviors. I’ve used various behaviors at school and I’d rather not take them anywhere else. It’s really unprofessional and people would probably find out at climbing. I do admit previously I’ve gone climbing just to burn of calories… but that’s as far with behaviors as I ever want to go with using at the climbing gym and that really needs to stop. So yes cake. Love cake… I was offered a muffin earlier but no I opt for the 94 cal areo moose. Damn ED. That blueberry muffin was calling me. Strange thing is it feel good I’ve denied myself cake and muffin today… like i like that I have enough self control to say no and not eat junk like that which is loaded with calories.
When people talk about ED’s around you.
Is it just me or does that really annoy you? Especially when it’s someone who knows about your eating disorder. Earlier my nan was talking about how this person on one of the soaps she was watching has an eating disorder and it was so annoying and triggering cause I was trying to eat dinner at the time. CAN YOU PLEASE NOT TALK ABOUT IT AROUND ME? ESPECIALLY NOT AT THE TABLE! Gosh! The earlier at the end of science a group of girls who sit next to me where talking about how apparently this girl in my history is pretending to have an eating disorder and wants to be a size 6 for prom. One of them even said about how people make themselves sick disgust them. I hate it when people are so judgmental about eating disorders and believe we want them.
Who would choose to make themselves sick or starve themselves to get skinny? It’s not a choice… not a choice in the slightest. More people really need to realize that.
Eating disorders in the climbing community are kept kinda hush, hush, Yes there was the so called climborexia phase but now climbers realize technique also plays an important part. This being very true. Technique is important. But how does climbing place
in the role of a developing or success of recovery from an eating disorder.
Sport and eating disorders.
Well research has shown that people participating in competitive sport are at higher risk of developing an eating disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa. OSFED (Previously EDNOS) is also a cause for concern as it has been highlighted as the most dangerous of eating disorders. I guess sports can be categorized into Technical, endurance, aesthetic, weight dependent. ball games and power sports. Amongst these Aesthetic sports carries the highest rate of eating disorders with weight dependent sports coming a close second.
You may ask. What does this have to do with climbing? Well to be climbing is not one sole category but a multitude. One of those being weight dependent. Not forgetting technique and potentially endurance and power sport. This however is all dependent on your chosen area of climbing. Be it sport, trad, Alpine,bouldering, mountaineering or competition.
So of course your ability to climb at any given time is partly down to weight to muscle ratio. Fat won’t help you get up the wall.Specially in female climbers pressures to be thin are added. This could all lead to the development or severity of an eating disorder. There are some very thin climbers out there.
There is also the pressure factor. Be it from family or your coach. There is the potential that climbing families can apply too much pressure on the child. The potential on a coach pushing a young person too far. To a predisposed individual talk about simple things such as weight- to – muscle and healthy eating could play a part in the cause or increasing severity of an eating disorder when mixed with other known factors such us; bullying, perfectionism, pressure from school, abuse or death of a loved one.
Your eating disorder may portray itself to you as a way to excel in your sport. It may start as a fitness plan or a healthy eating plan and rapidly spiral out of control.
Climbing and recovery.
This section I guess specifically focuses in indoor climbing and competition climbing. When grades are most important. While in recovery from an eating disorder simple things such as putting your harness on or your chalk- bag round your waist may become triggering. Maybe the feeling that your going backwards instead of forwards. The inevitable weight gain. This can all effect recovery. Not just mentally but physically.
We all know that exercising at a low weight is extremely dangerous and can be the cause of heart attacks and premature death. There is also the fact that exercising during the weight gain process can cause you to overshoot your natural weight. Of course us climbers can’t just not climb. It’s like a drug and to many sufferers of eating disorders exercise is like a drug.
So yes not only can climbing be a cause or reason for an increase in severity it can also be a hindrance during the recovery process. Especially when not many people know of your disorder.
Well I’ve had an Eating disorder for six years. EDNOS. About 18 months ago I started climbing. I was rubbish at it but I loved it. It was just for fun then really. No weight-to-muscle to triggering coaches, no targets apart from those which were self set. May 2013. I climbed my first 6a. My instructor said something about how I was light so it was easy for me. Not that this was the cause of the increased severity in my eating disorder as many other factors played a part but it was something I remember almost a year on.
June 2013 I had lost A LOT OF WEIGHT. Ok probably not that much. We don’t have working scales at home so I can’t give definitive numbers but people were commenting. June 2013. Marking the start of recovery. When recognized and openly admitted there was a problem. June 22nd, I went to my friends party. A buffet. Ok I didn’t eat a huge amount and refused to eat dinner that evening. I also proceeded to do some silly amount of sit ups that evening but it was a step in the right direction.
I guess I was fighting for recovery from then on really. I was however still losing weight. Late July I gained a whole 1/2lb. This freaked me out like hell. Returning from holiday in august things started to slip again. Thing is with this slip my climbing was noticeably better. I onsited a 6a+ Not just climbed, no hours spent. Just straight up. No effort what-so-ever. I was so tiny it was all so easy.
Picking myself back up from the relapse. Eventually I guess climbing wasn’t a problem until 2014 came along. Since the new year I have been gaining and gaining and gaining. This is due to a failure to be-able to intuitively eat. A failure to be-able to eat what my body needs when not in control. Sometimes it feels like I’ve developed Binge eating disorder. I may have climbed my first 6b about a month ago. Bouldered my first v3 along with that. Following a series of recant injury’s however climbing the crack was near impossible last Friday. My arms are just too weak for it. They never used to be. I can only attribute that to the impeding far growth on my stomach. I can’t deny it to myself. It is there and it is real. There could of course be many other factors attributing to a drop in performance. This could include how I hadn’t eaten lunch and how my shoulder was not actually fully healed. There is also the fact that the recant injuries meant training had been lacking.
So now I’m sitting on the fence. I don’t gain as much enjoyment from climbing as I once did. I swear I’ve gained atleast a stone since the Friday…A lack of workouts and being at my nans. She forces food down my throat and I feel pressured to eat it. Writing about it makes me feel so guilty. I need to be skinny again. I need to lose weight not give in to this.
I guess I can’t quit climbing for another 9 weeks. It would be unfair on my mother. Maybe in those 9 weeks I will find new perspective. When I get home tomorrow I will beable to train again. Maybe if my parents allow me to become a vegan that will make a difference. Or maybe my climbing ability will not get any better and I may still be climbing worse than everyone else but I will have learnt to accept that and stop comparing myself to others. There is a chance that one day I will be-able enjoy climbing once more. Not for the competition and not for the grades but out pure love for the sport. The sense of freedom and challenge. I guess there’s no point in me climbing if it’s to “be the best”. I never started climbing to be the best. I started out of pure enjoyment. The feeling I get when climbing.
Maybe happiness well come and one day I may find my passion once more. Climb for enjoyment not to be good at it and not let my eating disorder allow me to believe anything about how I should lose weight, need to lose weight and how my BMI is way to heavy for a climbers. I need to learn to climb for fun and not competition. Only then will my love and passion return.
Getting back on the blogging train and am going to write about weight gain after my nan made my put on my prom dress just after I ate 2 1/2 biscuits.
So being the number fixated person I am and the fact that since Christmas I have gained a stone in weight I have had a very bad body image and there have been a few little slip – ups as far as my eating disorder is concerned. It really started to get worse after I reached 9 stone. 126lb. 57.27kg. Heavier than I’ve ever been from memory. Ok it argues that I may have been heavier at some stage or that weight at some stage and just didn’t know about it because I do not always have access to scales. We currently have none at home and often during my eating disorder they broke. Also even if 56kg was my heaviest I was 13 then! Yes I may not have grown much since being 13 but I’m 16 now so logically I am going to be heavier. All of this freaking out and near relapse was basically over nothing. 9 months into recovery. A number on the scale still being the thing that fuels my eating disorder. Now you could just say. Don’t weigh yourself! It really isn’t that easy and those with eating disorders would now that especially those who at least used to be good and used to, or maybe still do; enjoy maths. The scales call me. I feel bad if I don’t step on them at every given opportunity. Slowly I am working through that though and it is getting easier.
What isn’t getting easier however is dealing with the number on the scale. Now my fears had just proved to be wrong. I have not gained pure fat since Christmas and actually some of that weight is for the best. OK I need more muscle so I can climb as hard as I could while lighter and maybe some hard technique training but I don’t live to be a good climber because face it I’ve been climbing since September 2012 of course I’m not the best 16 year old climber there is. I know tons of people better than me, some even younger. If I lived just to climb better than everyone then I might aswell be dead.
As the bolded part of this post states. I had to try on my prom dress. The thought of that. Panic attack inducing alright. I was convinced I would have to restrict severely in order to fit into it again. Too my surprise it fit and yes if I don’t wear heals it will have to be taken in so it sits properly round my waist and I don’t trip over it. (Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!) Yes my hips, bum and thighs are bigger and I have gained some fat. Not an overwhelming amount though. I would even go as far as saying my body needs what I’m eating. Yes my weight will not stabilize but I abused my body for 6 years and rarely stated the minimums stated on youreatopia. That and the fact I exercised A LOT during the weight gain phase scared all I would gain was fat without. So yes I may overshoot and yes I may still be gaining weight and yes my prom dress may not fit me come June. Is that really a big problem though? Does it really matter? The answer to that would be no. As long as I’m healthy and happy at the end of it all. That is the only thing that matters.