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To use my previous anorexia to cope for now.

(37 Posts)
Honestadviceneeded Wed 28-Oct-20 12:33:04

Hi all.
Just after some insight/advice. I have always struggled with my mental health. I developed anorexia at age 14 and battled for 18 years, making what I would say is a full recovery when I finally had my daughter.
However, I have struggled with bouts of depression and panic attacks that are really impacting my life. Recently, a family death has triggered some past things that I honestly hadn’t remembered and suddenly my life feels like it is falling apart. I have no clue who I am anymore...I am struggling to get through each day and to stay grounded. I’m experiencing really awful flashbacks and nightmares and I’m just generally struggling to cope. I am now on medication and am having counselling but I just don’t feel like I can get any control over my life. The only thing that helps me to stay grounded and as if I have any control over my life is to push myself so hard it hurts when I exercise and also to feel hunger. I feel like I’m real if I hurt or am hungry. I’m restricting my food intake to 1 meal each day and have upped my exercise levels. This is helping me emotionally more than anything else I try.
I wouldn’t say I’m anorexic again because this time it’s a choice and I’m in control of it.
Is this a dangerous line to tread or can this strategy work as a temporary coping mechanism until I find another way to gain control. Right now pain and hunger is all that works...
Btw I am aware how deadly anorexia is and in no way mean to be disrespectful of those who suffer...ive been there and I honestly know the hell that it is... but honestly right now, death does not scare me at all. The only reason I am keeping going is for my children. I can’t really describe fully the mental pain I feel and hunger and pain are al that will help to make it stop....

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Star8181 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:29:13

Hello @Honestadviceneeded. I’m not sure I have too much advice to offer, just a handhold perhaps. I’ve been there, still am, and completely understand how anorexia is used to cope when things are tough. Have you mentioned to your counsellor how you are coping with regards to food and exercise? I’m sure you know it can be a slippery slope back to anorexia and it’s so hard to pull yourself out once you’re there.
Take care of yourself.

Honestadviceneeded Wed 28-Oct-20 13:48:28

Hi @Star8181 thank you so much. A handhold is very much appreciated. So sorry you’re in a bad place too; it’s just so hard, isn’t it!?
I have skirted around the issue a bit with my counsellor but have been nervous of revealing the full extent of my restrictions on food. I have been honest about exercise though. My psychiatrist previously told me that he didn’t like working with anorexics because they are dishonest and manipulative...and that puts me off telling her because I would hate for her not to want to work with me. I’m only just getting over the fear of her deciding against working with me and walking away. She’s a fantastic counsellor and I don’t know what I’d do without her at the moment and I don’t want to giver her a reason to drop me.

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Rustnot Wed 28-Oct-20 14:03:30

I think you probably already realise that using food as a coping mechanism is not healthy. I don't have anorexia but I do have an ED diagnosis. A big part of an ED is how it convinces you that you are in control, but the reality is that the ED is. Please speak to your counsellor about how you are coping at the moment.

MacbookHo Wed 28-Oct-20 14:13:17

I’d tell your counsellor that you are very tempted to use hunger as a way of feeling “real”. And explore those feelings with her, and find an alternative.

She didn’t say she wouldn’t work with anorexics, did she? It was someone else? So you’ve no reason to believe she would turn her back on you if she knew the truth.

I haven’t been anorexic but I would think it’s a dangerous method for coping with things. It can spiral. I wouldn’t risk it, especially as you had such a long experience of it in the past.

Can you ask your counsellor to suggest other coping tools?

Rustnot Wed 28-Oct-20 14:13:48

Just seen your second post. I think it's very unfair for a professional to describe people with anorexia as manipulative and dishonest. Some of the behaviours might present in that way, but that is very much the nature of the illness.

Perhaps not what you want to hear, but I think you do need to ask yourself if your counsellor is right for you if you are worried that being completely open might have unwanted repercussions.

Thisisnotnormal69 Wed 28-Oct-20 14:16:07

Sorry but I think it is naive to think that you are in control of this. You don’t sound like you’re in control at all, completely the opposite. I’m so sorry things are tough right now

persheptions Wed 28-Oct-20 14:18:42

I think you know the answer to this.

BorderlineBob Wed 28-Oct-20 14:22:15

I'm sorry you're struggling but I don't think you're in control of this.
I also urge you to consider your daughter (genuinely not trying to make you feel guilty) - it's not healthy behaviour to be modelling for her.
I think you'd be best to discuss it truthfully with your therapist and perhaps another supportive adult (a partner if you have one) who can keep an eye on your eating habits at home. Sometimes we need other people to monitor and support whilst we are not entirely well.
Good luck, I'm sorry you're going through this.

AppleBlossomTimeNow Wed 28-Oct-20 14:25:15

It's a strategy but it isn't a healthy strategy. Somewhat akin to an alcoholic saying they just need a drink or two every day till they get through a rough patch - you may feel like you are in control & that it is helping but it is a very slippery slope. Please discuss these feelings with a professional who understands ED & try to find other ways to cope. Be kind to yourself & your body x

TooManyDogsandChildren Wed 28-Oct-20 14:25:20

You are right that it is a coping mechanism but it is a dysfunctional one which will do you more harm than good.

I don't like the sound of your counsellor - really not on to say something so judgmental and totally contrary to the practice of the counselling regulatory bodies. Can you look for a different one who does specialise in working with anorexics?

Amber0685 Wed 28-Oct-20 14:27:44

Please be careful it is a sneaky disease.

Honestadviceneeded Wed 28-Oct-20 14:38:25

Sorry, it wasn’t my counsellor who said anorexics are deceitful but a psychiatrist I saw when previously being treated for anorexia. I hated him... he used to threaten me to put on weight or he’d section me, telling me it was a spoilt little girl’s disease and he didn’t have time to have my blood on his hands.

My counsellor would never say anything like that... and I do think she is a good fit for me... I think it’s my own issues that prevent me from being completely truthful. I think what my psychiatrist said in the past still really stings and although logically I know he’s in the wrong...part of me thinks what if my counsellor thinks that too and is just too polite to say it.

It’s hard to describe how I feel in control... like I could stop restricting food at any time...it’s just that I don’t want to because that is what is getting me through...
Then I suppose writing that and reading it objectively....I can see it’s perhaps not the best idea.
My counsellor has given me so many alternatives but nothing seems to work like pain and starvation...
It’s all just such a mess... I don’t know how to get out of this...

And I totally see the point about my daughter. In fact it’s one of my absolute fears that she develops an E.D. I hide it SO carefully. I just put less on my plate, ouch it about and then when everyone is finished clear and scrape all the plates together and nobody notices. Also, although my weight is slowly dropping, my body looks no different.

Thank you for the replies... they are making me think.

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persheptions Wed 28-Oct-20 14:47:21

Nobody notices?

I'd notice.

Children notice everything.

Thinking you could stop and actually stopping are totally different.

Doughnut100 Wed 28-Oct-20 15:19:39

Sorry for your situation I do really feel for you. I have worked as a care assistant on two eating disorder inpatient units. I'm no expert but I'm no stranger to EDs.

Your old psychiatrist sounds horrible. However by being dishonest with your counsellor you are very slightly proving him right. And stopping your counsellor from being able to do her job in possession of the facts. She won't reject you because of this. Give her a chance she might be able to really help you.

You are not in control. People with all kind of addictions claim they are not addicted because they could stop any time. Until you actually have stopped that is just a fantasy.

Stop for your daughter. The behaviour you have just described with food I have witnessed a lot. It isn't as subtle as you think and children notice everything. Your daughter is absorbing this information.

Sorry I don't mean to sound harsh in any of that. I really do sympathise and I wish you all the best. Please reach out to your counsellor and find a new coping strategy. X

Honestadviceneeded Wed 28-Oct-20 16:54:38

You’re right @Doughnut100 but I don’t mean to be deceptive...I haven’t all out lied but I have hidden the full truth...which is lying...

I will try to bring it up with her in my next session...for some reason it feels like a really big risk...And I’m scared that by telling her, this coping mechanism will be taken away and I just won’t be able to cope anymore...

This is all such a mess.

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Doughnut100 Wed 28-Oct-20 17:47:19

@Honestadviceneeded telling your counsellor won't remove the coping mechanism. Only you can do that. The fact you are so scared of having it removed shows you are not as in control as you claim. You need support in getting to a place where you can stop using it. Anorexia is vicious, I'm so sorry you're going through this but there is hope. It's similar to alcoholism in that many drinkers start drinking as a coping mechanism and then the drink becomes a bigger problem than the initial one. Good luck. X

Star8181 Wed 28-Oct-20 17:48:30

Honestadviceneeded

Hi @Star8181 thank you so much. A handhold is very much appreciated. So sorry you’re in a bad place too; it’s just so hard, isn’t it!?
I have skirted around the issue a bit with my counsellor but have been nervous of revealing the full extent of my restrictions on food. I have been honest about exercise though. My psychiatrist previously told me that he didn’t like working with anorexics because they are dishonest and manipulative...and that puts me off telling her because I would hate for her not to want to work with me. I’m only just getting over the fear of her deciding against working with me and walking away. She’s a fantastic counsellor and I don’t know what I’d do without her at the moment and I don’t want to giver her a reason to drop me.

What an awful thing for a psychiatrist to say to someone with an eating disorder. Please try and be honest with your new counsellor, it’s really important to be honest so she can help. When is your next appointment?
I know that feeling of being terrified about your coping mechanism being taken away. I’m still trying to figure that one out...but I’m still here and surviving, so it must be possible.

ArsumLardis Wed 28-Oct-20 17:55:15

this time it’s a choice and I’m in control of it

That's the little sweet song your mental illness (the ED) tells you. You're in control. This is fine. No reason to worry. I hope you find a way to resist that siren.

Alternista Wed 28-Oct-20 17:57:41

You’re not using your previous anorexia. You’ve relapsed into anorexia again. Right now, today, you’re anorexic.

I’m so sorry, it’s a horrible illness. Please be honest with your counsellor and get help now, before you slide further into it.

Honestadviceneeded Wed 28-Oct-20 18:39:06

Ok...this is all hard to take in...I’m really grateful for your honesty although I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear, I probably have heard what I needed to hear. Especially the last few comments. Thank you all for doing it so kindly.
My next appointment is next week, I will bring this up openly and honestly and take it from there. I did not ever want to be in this place again...

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Alternista Wed 28-Oct-20 22:06:48

So sorry lovely. I know it wasn’t what you hoped to hear.
I believe you can be well flowers

Thisisnotnormal69 Wed 28-Oct-20 22:34:00

I would also agree with others that I think your daughter will be noticing you not eating, however hard you try to hide it. They notice these things, and it will have a significant impact on her. I’m not saying that to be nasty at all, just to encourage you to get help as you plan on doing. That takes such strength flowers

And your previous psychiatrist sounds like a piece of work. Did you report him for those comments/could you? Sorry if you’ve already said this. Wonder how many other young girls lives he has damaged further with his attitude

PurpleDaisies Wed 28-Oct-20 22:41:35

You need help now. flowers

Is the appointment next week with your general counsellor or an earring disorder specialist? You really need to talk to your doctor.

Honestadviceneeded Thu 29-Oct-20 09:01:15

@Alternista thank you!

@Thisisnotnormal69 I was really young at the time and actually believed him so I never complained. It wasn’t until I got older that I realised that what he said was wrong. I doubt he’s still practising now...he was quite close to retirement age when I saw him...I think...

My counsellor isn’t an ED specialist but does deal with EDs. She knows my history with anorexia and also the trauma (saying that word still feels odd) that I’m dealing with now. I need to work on trusting and so I think I need to tell her. Starting again with someone else feels a bit too much right now.

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