Blitzkrieg Bop

O, hai.  How iz you?

Yeah, everyone starts their blog entries, or zine introduction, or whatever else, with “sorry i haven’t posted in such a long time, but i’ve had all this stuff on…”  So i’m not going to, because it goes without saying, right?

Here are some things i’ve been meaning to write about, here in my blog, recently:

  • Going back to Overeaters Anonymous
  • Having a nasty incident and going teetotal
  • Money money money
  • My dissertation/placement
I think there may well have been more, but, well… i’ve forgotten what else.  Anyway, that’s quite  enough to be going on with, isn’t it?  It’s not like i’m an especially prestigious blogger who Must Tell The World Everything.  Even though i am a bit of a bigmouth and can’t seem to shut the fuck up, i’ll admit – part of the point of this blog is so i can Talk About That Shit here and not in my daily life where, quite frankly, i imagine most people i know are sick of me referencing it in every other sentence.  Let’s do ’em one at a time, then.

Twelve-step Fellowships

Yeah, i’ve started going to Overeaters Anonymous (O.A) again.  I’d been meaning to for ages – years in fact – but for some reason never got round to it.

(There’s also A.B.A – that is, Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous – but to be honest i prefer O.A because all sorts go, including anorexics, bulimics, binge-eaters and compulsive eaters; plus there are a lot of similarities between all eating disorders.  You can learn a lot from someone who might, upon first glance, appear to be very different from yourself.  I prefer the variety and i just prefer the style.  Seems many people do.)

So i went back, finally, after what, three years of intending to, perhaps?  Ha ha… never let it be said that i faff about or procrastinate, eh?  And to my surprise, it was very good to be back.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, despite having been before; i wasn’t sure if it’d be any good or if i’d feel weird or uncomfortable or anything.  But no, absolutely not: i was reminded how kind, accepting, welcoming and non-judgemental people can be.  They all have their own stories and real lives and experiences.  They’re all pretty amazing if i’m honest.

Now, i am still having reservations about the whole Twelve Step / spiritual approach.  I mean, what a load of freaky-cult pseudo-religious bollocks, eh?  To be fair, i don’t really think that – i’m just voicing (well all right, typing) what a lot of people think and, to a certain extent, what i did and still do think.  People who dismiss it like that, let’s face it, are the people who’ve never been.  But anyway, i certainly don’t think it’s bollocks, but i do kind of think, well, that’s not going to work for me.  I’ll just go along to listen and talk – you can see how that’d help.  But how do i explain my thoughts on this?  All this God and Higher Power stuff, well i can’t see how i’d do that – i can’t just switch faith on and off – nor, for that matter, can i see why i’d want to.  Meditating and saying i’m powerless and praying to some non-existent deity to ‘cure’ me?  How’s that going to stop me bingeing and puking?

Well, the answer is, firstly it’s not that simplistic.  There are all manner of things going on in the programme and within the meetings themselves.  People who ‘get it’ are there to support each other.  It’s all very well, me half-saying bah, what do i need them for when i’ve got loads of lovely mates who know about my shit?  I’m not isolated or lonely.  It might be a good thing for people who are, but i’m not like that.  Right?

Thing is, i do feel lonely.  I isolate myself, choosing the eating disorder over real life.  And there’s only so much you can talk about with your mates and your family, isn’t there?  They can be caring and patient and supportive – and yes, mine certainly are and i’m incredibly grateful and glad to have such amazing people around – but it’s hard for them to understand what we do and why we do it.  I mean, it’s hard for us to understand!  And let’s face it, it’s a horrible subject and we don’t really want to overburden anyone with it.

As for being so resistant to the twelve step approach itself, well i think i’m just being an arsehole, really.  What makes me so special, so different, that a programme that’s worked for who knows how many other people, won’t work for me?  And when did i get so wise and clever that i can know this before even giving it a proper go?  And finally: what i’m doing now certainly ain’t working, so maybe it’s time to try Something Else.

“Fuck-ups of the world, unite!  You have nothing to lose but your eating disorder!”

What’s next?  Oh yeah…

Having a Nasty Incident

A couple of weeks ago i got really drunk and things went badly.  I’ll point out here that i don’t have a drink problem, as such – but when i drink, i have problems.  I was stupid: i know i can’t take a lot of booze, but still i over-do it.

This time i seriously over-did it.  I woke up in hospital on Monday morning, still drunk, concussed, gash on my head, all my possessions gone.  Bruises everywhere that still haven’t gone.  Seems i slept on the street and maybe got robbed whilst unconscious.  Then i think i tried to walk home across London early in the morning, caught the bus with a complete stranger who paid my fare (perhaps altruistically, perhaps not), went into my local police station to shake the fella off then passed out as i left.

What i am certain about is that they then called an ambulance and my sister and later my Mum turned up to sort me out.  I spent the morning, a few days later, writing thank-you notes to the paramedics and everyone.  Thank fuck i wasn’t raped and murdered – it means i have another chance to live properly and take better care of myself.

So that’s it for me as regards alcohol.  I know people often say that, myself included, but i’ve never ended up quite this bad before.  Drinking just doesn’t appeal now.  I’ve never enjoyed getting even slightly drunk and i can live without it, thanks, especially if that’s what happens.

Some of my mates have said stuff like, oh, how awful – you must’ve been so scared.  That struck me somewhat.  Fear is not something i experience much, if at all.  No, i wasn’t scared, though perhaps i should’ve been.  If i felt anything much, it was more along the lines of mortified – that i could be so fucking stupid, act like such a cunt, upset and worry other people, piss them off with whatever drunken behaviour i, perhaps mercifully, couldn’t remember.

And all my stuff had gone and had to be reported missing or possibly nicked, bank card cancelled, new phone chosen and figured out (a particularly baffling subject for me), new this and that and the other.  It’s all too much to cope with and just served to remind me what a useless sod i am, no clue how to manage my life or look after myself.  At 33, that’s just shameful.

So it’s time for change.

My dissertation

Oh it’s all go.  Well, it would be, if i could do more than sit around in my pants staring into space with my mouth open.

Obviously i put on a few extra clothes before going off to where i’m doing my placement.  I don’t actually want to get arrested.

But it’s bonkers, how hard it is to fit all that work in around being unemployed.  Yeah, unemployed.  It’s bad enough feeling like a pointless waste of space, when not earning a living; self-confidence wanes and vanishes but time also loses its value.  I end up doing even less now, despite having more time than ever.  I sleep far too much and of course i Do That Thing i Do all the more when my time’s unstructured.

Just to give you an idea: quite aside from what went on earlier in the day, i’ve binged and purged four times just while writing this blog entry so far.  That’s almost eighty quid down the bog today alone – and this is budget bingeing.  Yeah, it seems a bit unbelievable and unreal to me, too; but unfortunately it’s only too real.  This is why everything hurts and why i’m in such a dire financial situation.  As my Mum says, it’s like being a drug addict – and she’d know because she used to work for the needle exchange.

It’s funny, or interesting, though, isn’t it – how ‘addiction’ appears to combine ‘a-‘ (not, or lack of) with ‘diction’ (speech).  I’m not sure it does actually mean that, because ‘diction’ comes from the Latin ‘dicere’ (to speak) whereas ‘addiction’, according to the dictionary, comes from ‘addictio’ which seems to be something to do with… deciding on and awarding property of uncertain ownership.  No, me neither.  I prefer the thing about not having a voice.

My dissertation, anyway – i don’t ‘alf go off on some bloody tangents, eh? – is underway this summer.  I’m on the final leg of my journey to being a qualified librarian.  Of course, there’ll be no library jobs – no fucking libraries, in fact – by the time i graduate.  Bah.  So i’ve been thinking about a move into the wacky world of I.T.  I know, right?  Nerd alert, nerd alert!  Still, it’s quite sobering to think, i’ll be qualified for something; assuming i pass of course.  And i’m nearly middle-aged.  Time to grow the fuck up, innit.

For my dissertation i’m looking at poetry in relation to health and wellbeing.  It’s amazing there, where i’m working.  People keep bringing me cups of tea and i’m surrounded by lovely books.  I keep getting distracted by all the lovely books though and have to make a supreme effort not to just read poems all day.  I’ve already half-wasted three weeks and i really, really don’t want to end up in that situation AGAIN where i’ve got two days left to do three months’ worth of work.

I’d like to write more about librarianship and politics in this blog.  I’d like to write about things that matter to me, those other things that factor enormously in my life.  It shouldn’t be all about bulimia and how miserable and crap i am.  There are other aspects to me, other things that define me.  I have hopes, ambitions, a dark sense of humour.  Libraries are my passion.  I’m a feminist and an anarchist.  I’m a veg*n.  (I mean, i’m vegetarian at the moment, but when i sort my stupidhead out, i’ll go vegan again.)  I used to feel so strongly, get enraged or excited; i used to really care about stuff.  I find it really difficult, these days, to muster more than slight irritation or despair.  I keep telling myself i won’t be this way forever, but then i wonder, is it because i’m getting old and i’m just too tired?  I’m writing a novel (ohmigod, aren’t we all?) although it’s on hold till i’ve finished my Masters.  I love zines (i write one myself) and comics (or comix, as i like to call them).  And my dream is to be on radio four one day.

What about you, dear reader?  What makes you, well, you?  Even if it’s buried under the misery and overgrown with weeds and you’re not sure how to dig it out again, what can you think of or even just remember being really into?  What about now – can you see a way to get back into those things?  Or, if you’ve been through and out the other side, how did you re-discover, well, life?

Eating Disorders and Collateral Damage

It’s tough being the partner, friend or relative of someone with an eating disorder – or any kind of disorder or addiction.  In all the fuss around the person with the eating disorder, the other people involved are all too easily forgotten.

Pretty often, people ask me: how does your girlfriend cope with you being bulimic?  Doesn’t it upset her, that you’re doing that to yourself?  Why do you still do it?  Why hasn’t love ‘cured’ you?  Is she OK about it?  Or, what can i do to help so-and-so who has an eating disorder?

Well no, of course she’s not OK about it and of course it upsets her.  She may be going out with me, but she’s not a complete nutcase.  She copes because she accepts that she has to.  We all have to accept people’s bad points as well as the good, if we’re to accept a person at all.

That’s not to say everyone can tolerate something so distressing.  Anorexia and bulimia have destroyed some of my relationships in the past – one of them quite spectacularly; this is, sadly, one of the realities of Living With An Eating Disorder.  It’s wrenched some people out of my life; it’s pushed some people away gradually and over time; yet others can’t accept it and maybe have chosen to not think about it and carry on as if it’s not really happening.

I suppose to an extent that’s what i do.  I’m altogether too good, to be honest, at not thinking about things – all sorts of things – just putting them away in a closet of my mind where i can’t see them.  Yet at the same time, i do acknowledge and accept things the way they are, more and more as the years drip by.

Perhaps things change as we get older.  We can accept things we couldn’t accept before, such as that we’re actually not that powerful and we can’t change other people.  I’ve accepted that, no, love does not cure everything.  I suppose we all have to calm down in order to survive: we get more worn out and tired – that includes people who haven’t got an eating disorder (or any recognised disorder) too – we get subdued by major stresses, yes, but also just by life, work, mundane worries, etc.  It all takes its toll.

As time slips away, we feel things less strongly, we feel less angry, less passionate; we no longer belligerently feel like we SHOULD have all the answers, nor that we MUST change the world or control how other people behave anymore.  I have some grey hair now; i’m always tired and have aches and pains all over the place; i no longer have the energy to stomp my righteous boots till 4 a.m.; i don’t actually have the inclination.  I can’t even finish a book in less than a week these days.

That probably sounds all very depressing, but actually, from my point of view, it’s just another thing i’ve come to accept.  We all have limits and we must know what they are.  I mean, i don’t mean to sound like the veritable octogenarian dishing out wise advice.  How can i, when i clearly don’t have the answers?

There’s a lot that’s wrong with the world, but there’s also a lot that’s right and good and wonderful.


Are you the friend, partner, relative, colleague, teacher or anything like that, of someone with an eating disorder?  Have a butcher’s at this – it might help:

http://www.mind.org.uk/help/diagnoses_and_conditions/eating_distress#friends

The thing is, my girlfriend, my mates and my family DO mind that i’m bulimic; and at times i get very sad thinking about how it affects them.  But like i said, i quickly pull my thoughts away from such things, rather than get upset.  If i didn’t, how could i get through the day?  But i think people need to know it’s not their fault, not their responsibility, not something they can do anything about… and not to take it personally.

Oh, there are always theories, aren’t there, as to why someone like me Ended Up Like This.  This or that factor in her childhood, or this or that incident or event drove her bonkers.  But what good is laying blame anywhere?  How does that help anyone deal with now?

If you want to help someone with an eating disorder, you do need to accept that this is the way they are, AT THE MOMENT; that “here and now” is the only place anyone can start from, and they’re the only one who can change things.

As anyone who’s ever had anything like an eating disorder, addiction or similar will know, of course, it’s not as simple as just “choosing” to get better. None of us chose to get ill. It takes a lot of work to even realise where you are, mentally and emotionally; often people will SAY they want to get better – that they’re ready, even, to get better – but they may not realise that they just aren’t yet.

A typical example might be someone with an eating disorder who’s underweight: they hate the way their life is, because it’s fucking miserable, but when faced with having to put on weight, they think, oh no. I want to get better, but i don’t want to put on weight.

Well, there’s no such thing as half recovery. If a person wants to recover, they can’t pick and choose. They have to take it all. And that’s REALLY fucking hard, especially as it will mean giving up the one thing, or the main thing, that makes a person feel ‘safe’.  Such as… retreating into food, as if it were a shelter (and it is, in a fucked up sort of a way: it’s familiar and we know how it works; it’s something we know how to do; it’s a distraction; it rarely brings surprises).  Like being underweight and therefore visible or even invisible.

It’s different for everyone – i hardly need tell you that, dear reader!

But for as long as a person ‘needs’ to cling onto any aspect of their eating disorder – and they will have good reasons, weird though it may sound – for as long as they are unwilling to completely let go that piece of driftwood to which they’re hanging on so grimly, for fear of drowning… they’ll never be free.  They need to trust, just trust that they’ll be all right – that they can swim.

So why am i still gripping that bit of flotsam, when i obviously know SO bloody much?  I dunno, maybe i’ve got so cold from being in the water so long, that my hands have frozen and i can’t uncurl my fingers.  OK, this metaphor’s getting ridiculous now.

Importantly, partners/friends/family need to think a little more about themselves and their own needs.  What do you need to do, to keep yourself OK?  I mean, if it means distancing yourself, so be it i suppose.  That’s what i’ve said to people i’ve ended up having to lose in the past.  You can be a friend without being a lover, you can be a good mate without being a best mate, you can step back but stick around, if that will mean YOU can cope better. Because you coping better means you can be there for someone, whereas if you’re not coping, you’re not helping – in fact you can end up dragging them down.

OR, you can hold on as you are, in the relationship you have with them, and you can accept that everyone’s got problems of some sort or another.  You won’t meet some miraculous person with no baggage whatsoever – anyone who reckons they haven’t is either deluded or lying!) – but you must just work out whether this is a problem YOU can deal with.  Just remember, you haven’t got a magic wand with which to make everything better – or how you want it to be.

Because all too often, in life, we really really REALLY want something, but we just can’t have it.  And there’s nothing we can do.  And that’s just how life is.

Many authors have said that life is a series of obstacles to overcome. That’s the point of life. You’re faced with a problem, you solve it, you move on to the next problem, rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. Sometimes the “solution” is to accept that there is no solution, that there’s nothing you can do right now, if ever. That’s all life is.

The best thing, in the end, is Honesty And Communication.  That’s what it always comes down to, innit?  Talk.  Don’t pretend.  Don’t hide.  Don’t make out like everything’s OK when it isn’t.  Forget pride and forget shame.  They don’t help anyone.  We need to understand, not avert our eyes.  We need to stand up and let people know more about these things, not hide away in denial.

If you want to help someone, talk to them, ask what it is they need.  They may not know yet.  But Rome wasn’t built over a single cup of tea.

The only person who can work out what’s going on inside someone’s head is that very person.  Deep down (maybe very deep down) they know what will work for them.  It takes a lot of patience and a lot of talking, but anyone who’s capable of giving that level of support to another is a Seriously Remarkable Person.

We need more people like that in the world.

Published in: on 11/05/2011 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Tidy workplace, bombsite at home: i’m a mess

Aarghs!  Still haven’t finished my assignment.  Got another to get on with as soon as possible.  And i didn’t make it to the Zine Symposium – one of my favourite events in the whole world.  I miss out on so much because… well, i’m a stupid waster: my life’s a mess.

That’s how i feel anyway.  Although i must admit, it’s odd.  I’m always telling myself i’m worthless and no good, even though at the same time i know i don’t really think that way.

Anyway, today’s burning topic is: disorder.  No, not affray, but physical and mental chaos – in relation to each other.  A bit.

It’s surely very telling, something any half-decent psychologist would jump on as blindingly obvious, that while my work, my handwriting and all the outward, professional aspects of me are incredibly clear, small, neat and meticulous… somehow my bedroom, my hair, my clothes and my personal diary are a complete shit tip.

Even someone as (relatively) unscientific and (thoroughly) bonkers as i can tell that the latter is a reflection of my state of mind; of my life in fact.  I am a mess.  I’m under no illusions as to how much of a mess i am.  I’m a disgrace.  Bulimia alone shouts this fact from its lofty throne (‘scuse pun) even if you haven’t seen the chaos within which i exist.

They – by which i mean eating disorder specialists; i’m not going to spout some kind of “them and us” conspiracy theory – reckon a characteristic of eating disorder sufferers is perfectionism.  Let me assure you, this does not apply to me.  I’m a shoddy, slap-dash kind of a gal.  Just look at my hair, my clothes, the way i ‘play’ guitar in my shouty punk band.  I’d LIKE to be more organised, more dedicated, turn out a better standard of… well, everything; but as i’ve already explained, the eating disorder has always got in the way.

Bulimia consumes time as it consumes confectionery and earnings.  It chews up self-esteem and munches away at any hope of a brighter future.  It gulps down opportunity and pukes up any hope i’ve ever had of being any good at anything.  It devours me and so many others like me.

Even whilst anorexic, time was there to be endured, seen off, while i waited for my life to “begin”.  I’ve never wanted to wish my life away, yet i waste my time and my life in the midst of a filthy illness that makes no sense.  I don’t have the answers.  If i did, i wouldn’t be in this mess.

Published in: on 24/04/2011 at 4:31 pm  Comments (4)