It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. I tend to want to write a constructive blog with a purpose, not one as an avenue for me to complain. However It’s been a difficult few months and I want to get this out of my head. 3 months ago I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital following treatment for an eating disorder. On discharge I initially did quite well with recovery, I ceased all exercise, stuck to my meal plan. I found the support that I was having wasn’t helpful though and a return to work has triggered a slow decline back into poor coping mechanisms & unhelpful behaviours. I am currently eating enough that I can exercise without feeling too week, this has become an obsession as I have set myself a minimum amount to do each day. This takes away the enjoyment of exercise and at times I have been weeping with tiredness from working all day, but unable to ignore the compulsion to keep going. In my mind If I exercise it means I can eat ‘a little’ and this is what keeps me safe. Since my weight has increased I have managed to start walking in the mountains again, this is a place I feel most at home, in the peace and silence away from the confusion of people and noise of the city. There have been shards of almost joy. This weekend I went away to the Peak District, the process of even getting there nearly broke me and there were lots of tears. I am not sure what possessed by brain when deciding a weekend away in a communal environment (YHA) would be a good idea! In the week leading up to the trip I’d been struggling to eat, just about maintaining 3 meals a day of soup/porridge and small snacks. I hadn’t taken into account the impact this would have on my body.
Half way through our first walk we had decided as part of our route to cross the plateau of Kinder Scout, for those who don’t know this area it’s essentially a high moorland plateau with undulations called ‘groughs’ which are essentially deep channels where the peat has been eroded. When they are filled with soft ‘sugar’ snow as they were on our walk it’s like trying to wade through deep fine sand. We’d already had a difficult hike ascending a stream which is usually a scramble, but the deep snow made it a tricky climb trying not to fall in hidden holes or to slip into the stream which was flowing fast with snow melt. Halfway across I had to accept that getting to the other side was not going to be possible, my chest was hurting, my vision blurred and I wasn’t feeling good at all. The sheer frustration caused a complete emotional melt down with me attacking myself and struggling to regain control. I felt I had eaten enough that day, having pushed myself to eat more than I’d done in weeks, but the sheer amount of energy expended in snowy hiking left my body demanding more. I did manage to pull myself together, eat some more snacks and to engineer a shorter route, but I felt like my eating disorder was defeating me and getting down off the hill was difficult.
The following day I made a concerted effort to try and eat more despite the pain my distended stomach was in, our walk was an even tougher one on Bleaklow. At times it felt quite terrifying when all you could see was white, punctuated by the odd mountain hare scurrying off or the surreal startled call of the grouse. Our route wasn’t as easy as we’d intended as we failed to pick up a path due to the depth of snow. I’d eaten all my food by mid afternoon and my body was starting to display all the warning signs of low blood sugar, as I fell into yet another snowy/wet hole I really questioned whether I would be able to continue the exhaustion and dizziness was so all consuming. I conceded to having some of my partners food and we eventually picked up the path we needed to be on. I’d never knowingly put myself at risk of needing mountain rescue, I have always been very cautious in the hills, this was an unexpected warning sign of how far I still have to go with my recovery. I really did think that I wasn’t going to make it off the mountain, which is a frightening thought.
Being back home has been a challenge, no longer able to justify large volumes of food due to less exercise I am back to a restricted diet. I felt very bloated when I returned home due to the slowing of my digestion. My mind feels like it has a disease which I can’t punctuate no matter how hard I try. My weight is within a BMI range of not being dangerously unsafe, but it’s not in a healthy range either. So I am left in this strange limbo land of being well enough to attend work and function (and the expectations which go hand in hand with this functionality), with 50 minutes of support a week from the ED team, but as a half shell of myself unsure of how to find a way out of the darkness. This weekend was certainly a lesson in terms of how far I have to go still and highlighted the need to scale back my adventures this winter until I am in a better place physically and mentally. It’s also, in my mind, an important point about judging someone by how they look and present themselves, it’s all to easy to hide what’s beneath the surface or assume that someone is okay because they seem to be functioning so well.