Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones…

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I have a friend, she’s called Kate, and she’s into running. Running in what can only be described as a Forest Gump kind of way. Kate is also one of the millions people in the UK affected by an Eating Disorder, but more importantly, Kate is actually one of the 45% who make a full recovery.

Because she is now “powered by beer and biscuits” she is doing all she can to help raise money, awareness and generally just proving to people that recovery is possible and that eating disorders are not fun, not a choice and not something to ignore. And I cannot thank her enough for that, because aside from the hours of ear bashing she puts up with when I declare I’m feeling squiffy or fat, when I need a friendly, knowledgeable voice to tell my anorexic brain to shut up, that food is good, Kate is always there, always smiling, and not willing to stop making a nuisance in the name of spreading a very important message.

Kate Anna-Louise Jayden - Dem Bones

Read my site, and you’ll know that I’ve been fighting anorexia. A fight, which thanks to support, dieticians and a very good therapist, has over the last year swung in my favour – I’m making huge steps forward, I’m eating more, not enough granted, but more. I don’t weigh myself and I don’t count calories, no longer recording every last pound, ounce or stone and life is more often than not existing near the realms of normality. Whatever that is.

The problem though is that anorexia doesn’t let go easily, it hides, it’s sneaky, it’ll appear at the exact moment you think you are strongest, days without fear and then something as simple as milk in a coffee, or an extra piece of fruit at breakfast enough to unlock the box, to allow its voice to echo and linger mentally throughout the day. Constantly questioning, reminding, demanding you give it back the control, follow it’s advice. But it’s wrong. It tells you that an extra apple will make you fat, that a sandwich will make you bloated. That you don’t need anything more. Setting rules on the basis that they worked before so why try and break them now.

But there is an obvious flaw in it’s argument: one bad meal doesn’t make you fat, in the same way, one good meal doesn’t make you thin. Nothing happens instantly, but anorexia doesn’t tell you that. It paints the world in black and white with such clarity that you are always won over. One gram beyond its rules and you’re weak, one kilogram below and you’re strong.

Deal With The Devil - Anorexia - Dem Bones

And that’s my biggest issue. The here and now. The fight to say I want to eat two apples not one, or actually in my case, to eat some biscuits with a mid afternoon coffee, or have the full fat rather than no fat yogurt as a post dinner snack and not feel my body shake, my mind panic, as the pointy eared rouge freak that is anorexia, cocks it’s head and  quizzically looks at me from within simply asking “really?”.

And so I avoid, acceptance easier to stomach than the pain of defiance. Day after day. Until suddenly it’s become a week, and then a month. And my body starts to die. Things start to hurt and symptoms start to show. You see, living with anorexia doesn’t mean simply being thin, but also of being cold and weak. Unable to function as you once did. Divorced from the normalities of life that apparently are so wrong. My house is like a sauna, my central heating topped up with jumpers, vests and extra portable radiators, yet I sit here typing, my feet physically cold, my lower back tingling with chills. Descending the stairs to make a warming cup of coffee hurts my legs, my muscles aching after 12 small steps. Anorexia has stripped my body of its natural efficiency and forced it into survival mode, to protect number one. A cut on my hand left unhealed because to my body, a graze is less important than continuing the slow beating of my heart.

It’s easy to look at these hidden side effects and say, they’re just a symptom. I weigh nothing, I have no body fat, my heart rate is scarily low, of course I’m going to be cold. Even in a room currently heated to near sauna levels. When I recover, when I put on weight, regain fat, things will return to normal. But that’s anorexia’s other cruel trick. Because they won’t. Even when I’ve banished it from my life, it’s left me scarred. Mentally repairable but physically now tattooed for life.

Osteoporosis Bone - Anorexia - Dem Bones

Because, earlier this week I got the results of a bone density scan I had. I have Osteopenia, bordering on Osteoporosis. I am now at risk of bone fractures and breaks. I can strength my bones, increase my calcium and Vitamin D intake, to mitigate the damage I have done by listening to a fool and it’s rules, but I’ve hurt myself. Permanently.

The results have divided my brain and split me mentally because, however scary this sounds, anorexia is actually glad. It’s a permanent badge of honour. A mark of success. Proof of its strength. But I hate it. And what it has done to me. I sat in my car, parked up and in public, and cried. The control of my unwanted friend so strong that however much I try to fight, the pain of its gaze, its questioning power is too much. It knows how to panic and fear me into smaller portions, into the lighter choices. And every time I go shopping, every time I pick an apple when I really want a biscuit, I remain stuck, reaffirming the rules I know are wrong, I know are hurting, and finally, have broken me forever. And that’s the point, it’s physically hurt me, I’ve followed its rules in the name of strength and protection and it’s hurt me. So why am I struggling to fight so badly? After all, I have so much to fight for, so much to drive my recovery, a full, rich warm life to lead. I have lived this hell, and I will be free. And when I am, mark my words, I will stop at nothing to help anyone else to break free. I just need to take that first step.

Kate Anna-Louise Jayden - Marathon Medals - Dem Bones

But that first step starts with therapy and mentally removing anorexia from my mind. It took me three years to find my way to therapy. Three years of lost time, of growing, broken thoughts and physical roots of damage now finally permanent. I needed help but I couldn’t find it. And that is why Kate is so important. Ignoring her individual support directly to me, she is currently running more marathons in 17 days than anybody should run in a year (in my opinion). In fact, as I write this she’s pounding the streets to complete her 10th marathon in 8 days! The whole shoe busting challenge marketing a desire to raise awareness and money for Beat, an eating disorder charity that is determined to ensure people get help early, that services are funded and available so that more and more people can literally, beat whatever eating disorder is ruining their lives.

I can’t force you to give money, I would if I could, but I can beg, I can ask that you all just click the link below and give whatever you can afford, because I will wear my damage for the rest of my life, because however much I naively walked into this mess, I did ask for directions along the way and nobody ever stopped to help. And that is a situation nobody else should ever have to face.

Support Kate’s Challenge Now…

Just Giving Donate Now ImageTo donate to Kate’s fund and in turn keep her motivated while helping to provide vital funds for Beat and their fight against eating disorders simply visit her Just Giving Page and give whatever you can.

Posted on by 5WC in Anorexia First Edition

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