It is the final day of another year. It has been a while since I’ve written anything, despite it being the time of year for snow globes to come into their own. Unlike the outside, the inside of my snow globe is blanketed in white. Icily beautiful. I’m sheltered in the muffled stillness of my hollow tree. For the last week, time has stopped. The world inside my snow globe has been held in the pause between the end of the exhalation and the beginning of the breath in. Still. Muffled. Buried under snow. I have needed the dead time. I have needed time to sleep, to let my thoughts gather around be without having to go to the effort of sifting and arranging them. I am ready for the clock to tick once more, the state of inertia is beginning to bother me. I can feel the thrumming of anxiety beneath the surface, slowly heating the ground beneath the snow.
Inertia is not the only thing giving fuel to that simmering anxiety. On Christmas day – which was as it often is, wonderful and stressful in almost equal measure – after a drawn out mental battle, I decided to give in and let myself eat whatever I wanted. After all, I eventually reasoned, it’s only one day. No. There exist people for whom it would only be one day. There are certain circumstances under which perhaps it would only have been one day. It has been a week. I know that there are people who will read this and roll their eyes because everyone overeats at Christmas and hey, I needed to put on weight. I want to try to articulate why those statements are wrong. I’ve lit a small fire in a pit just outside my hollow tree, do make yourself comfortable and try, please, to put down your preconceived notions and listen to what I am actually saying.
People overeating because it’s Christmas and there are lots of delicious festive treats to be had and me spending a week in binge mode are two very different things. On the surface, it might appear the same, grazing on chocolates and biscuits, nibbling on left overs, saying yes to offers of food instead of no. That is the part that other people see. The part that nobody else sees is that I don’t stop. I’ll eat until I feel sick. Until it hurts to breathe. I won’t even taste what I’m putting in my mouth, I’m getting no enjoyment from it, it’s a compulsion, it’s automatic, it’s always, always just one more mouthful, one more day, one more binge then I’ll stop. I’ve been here before. It’s terrifying. To feel so utterly out of control of something so simple. To have less self-control than a child. To people on the outside who think I’m too thin, it appears to be a solution. It appears that I’ve turned a corner. No. This is not an answer. This is not how to get back to a healthy weight. This is not getting over my food issues, this is the paradox of an eating disorder. It’s terrifying because if I can’t make it stop it and I will spiral back down into the pit I’ve spent the last year clambering out of. Me eating too little might be what scares you, but me eating too much is far more damaging. That is what I wish people could see.
The fire is warm, it casts cosy shadows over the hollow tree, I’ll end on something more positive. I have come so far this year and this week of dead time has not reversed that, it has simply been a reminder that until I can draw up and face a problem head on, it will keep coming back. Things are in a constant state of flux and the way that I think can be flipped on its head in an instant. Instead of being a reason to despair, I think it’s a reason to be all the more grateful for all the moments my head is in a happy place. For all the times I can make good decisions. For every morning I wake up and actually want to get out of bed. So I’m going to end one year and start the next with a list of 10 things to be grateful for.
1. Narnie – For all of the cuddles and fuzzes and phone calls. For listening to rants, for giving me advice, for taking me places, for bringing me back to life.
2. Going back to university. It is still hard. The thought of next term is still terrifying. I’m still scared that I won’t do well enough. But I’m going to try my hardest and give it all I’ve got because despite it all, I love my subject.
3. Being born in the right time in the right place to the right people. When it comes down to it, I was really lucky.
4. The internet, the place the socially awkward can have a voice
5. Harry Potter. In the new year, I will write a blog about it.
6. Jado Kuin Do.
7. Non – you wonderful, wonderful woman. For giving me a reason to smile, so much hope and changing my thoughts on autumn.
8. DAMSA – the Disabled and Mental Health Students Association at uni, for giving me somewhere to belong. For friendship, understanding and cups of tea.
9. My Autism mentor Caroline and Mental Health advisor Sandy, for making point number 2 possible.
10. Ayla, because everyone needs a friend on the other side of the world to share a love of Remus Lupin and 19th century England with.