Posts Tagged ‘Friends and Family’


Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Because it’s a bank holiday weekend and I have been struggling a little, lately; I am going to stay with one of those rare friends who can miraculously reel you back in – when your head is starting to drift – and help you put down the baggage for a while.

I am lucky to have a few of these precious friendships. They are like gold dust. The people that ground us when it feels like we’re being swept away; and offer a refuge when it all gets too much.

Making Friends with Food

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I am not very good at talking about food.

Despite the amount of time I have spent obsessing on the subject, and in spite of the leaps that I have taken in the ‘right’ direction; I still find myself a little touchy around the conversations that most people have on a daily basis –

“That looks nice” is rarely awarded a response; “what are you eating?” gets a swift brush off; and, the “what food do you like?” question is shrugged off, like a bad smell.

The Little Things

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The guy next door offered to walk me home.

I forget sometimes, that it really doesn’t take a lot.

One kind word or a gentle gesture, and suddenly, the bridge between me and the rest of the world seems infinitely smaller.

It is important, every now and then, to remember this.

How to make friends…

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

….is a question that I have been asking myself rather a lot recently.

Now that I’ve realised that people are preferable to an eating disorder, I’m eager to make up for lost ground and appreciating just how much we’ve got to offer each other –

Only, it’s a little harder now that I’m nearing 30 and most people seem to be settled; and, I’ve hit a few unanticipated questions – like where do I go, and what do I say? – and some overlooked assumptions – like what do I have to offer? – that have put a few barriers in my way.

Making friends is far more complicated then I remember.

Given that the last time I tried to make friends, the other 30 people in the classroom shared my sentiments, this is, perhaps, unsurprising. However, after doing lots of things that I thought I couldn’t do, and as I’ve already come this far, there’s no points in shying away from a challenge – and this is what I’ve started to learn:

1. Being my own friend

An Apology

Monday, February 8th, 2010

There are a few things that I’d like to apologise for.

I realise that this comes a little late and that we’ve started, finally, to look forwards rather than backwards; but I’d like to start afresh and I want you to know – before we go any further – that I’m sorry (on behalf of my eating disorder), for some of the things that I imagine are hard to forget –

Like the times that I made you pick me up from supermarkets with armfuls of bags, or dragged you to all–you-can-eat buffets, because it was the cheapest way of bingeing and I wasn’t quite brave enough (then) to go on my own.

A Terrible Mistake

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I have made a terrible mistake.

I chose an eating disorder, over my friends.

It hurts like hell and I didn’t realise what I was doing until I woke up, one day, and understood what I had thrown away –

My Guardian Angel and the First Binge-Free Month

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

If they ever develop a way to clone humans, I’ll be recommending my brother. I’m not sure I would have got through my first binge-free night without him, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it through my first binge-free month.

Whilst he probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience and I don’t think he’s available on loan, I’ve been trying to identify what really made the difference – because, whether he admits it or not, he helped me turn my life around.

So, in the absence of cloning and a sibling loan provision, I’ve tried to break-down my brother and pinpoint the things that helped; because, there might be some other guardian angels flying around out there, or you might have wings yourself….

(How not to do) Family Therapy

Friday, January 15th, 2010

I have stayed away from mentioning my family on this blog. This is, possibly, a lingering lesson from family therapy. There is little value in throwing around recriminations and blame and hurt. Family therapy’s a good tool but it comes with a few words of caution: get a good therapist; work together; and, remember that you can only ever change yourself.

The trick to effective family therapy is in the “family”. For some reason, it can be hard for the word – and the people – to stick. In the first few attempts, we fell at this crucial hurdle; and, what began as a group affair, quickly reverted back to the therapist and me.

This kind of defeats the object, although it’s relatively easy to see where it all went wrong…

Saturday Nights

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Now that I’ve made some space for a life, I am enjoying the Saturday night experience.

After the loneliness of an eating disorder, you don’t take anything for granted: a night in with friends may be commonplace – but after years of me and my food, even the mundane is strangely precious; even the smallest of pleasures is noted as an achievement –

Because Saturday nights still feel like a novelty – and friends are proving far better company than food.

A little social re-positionning

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I am having to undertake a little social re-positioning now that I am emerging as a person – and not an illness.

The parameters have shifted somewhat; and, there has been a little lag in the transition – which is only to be expected after 17 years of living within the clearly defined cage of an eating disorder.

So, I am having to re-navigate relationships and re-set the expectations. I am learning to show that the things that weren’t possible before are now okay; that the concerns that were so palpable are no longer overwhelming; and, that the hope that was previously cloaked behind self protection and past disappointment, can finally be enjoyed –

After a lot of pain, the best way to do this is by example.

The Right Distance?

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

When I was a teenager, I was offered £500 to stop smoking. Even though £500 was a fortune to a penniless 17 year old; I failed at the first hurdle. When you’re addicted to something, a rational argument does not always equate.

The outcome? I remained a penniless teen – who couldn’t even give up smoking and had therefore thrown away the easiest £500 she had ever been – or would ever be – offered; whilst appearing ungrateful to the well-meaning sponsors and letting them down in the process -

The lesson? The rules are different when you’re dealing with head stuff and when you’re overwhelmed by an addiction. A little distance is imperative and you can’t start adding new things into the mix without a touch of caution – because it can all get horribly confused.

The ‘How Do I Help’ Question

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I keep being asked what friends and family can do to make it better.

Coming from the other side, I’m only just beginning to realise the wide net that an eating disorder can cast.

There’s a horrible urgency and a desperation in the ‘how to help’ discussion that I seem to have been completely oblivious to–

People are not as judgemental as my eating disorder had had me believe: they want to help.

Family and Friends

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I’m not sure that I’m quite qualified to write this bit. I only have the faintest inkling of how hard it must be for family and friends. I don’t want to presume their feelings.

I don’t want to write their experience wrong.

I imagine there are some adjectives that fit – angry, frustrated, scared, hurt, sad, confused, desperate – but don’t do justice to the feelings.

I imagine that there are questions and accusations and things coming out the wrong way and things not coming out at all – but I don’t want to own their experiences.

My eating disorder had a nasty habit of taking precedence.

I won’t.

People Power

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

We don’t like to tell people when we’re trying something new.

A challenge is always better when the anticipated failure is private: it’s bad enough to let yourself down. Plus, telling people puts the pressure on – it means that you actually have to go through with it.

It also means that you don’t have to go through with it on your own.

You can’t beat a little people power. It’s got me where I am today – and it’ll probably get me where I want to be tomorrow.

A Listening Ear

Friday, July 17th, 2009

An objective listener is a godsend. A non-judgemental pair of ears makes all the difference.

Eating disorders thrive on secrecy: just by sitting and listening, you’ve got one over on it.

Just by offering a different perspective, you’re challenging its supremacy.

You don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to make it all better – just listen, please.


A Good Example

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Copying other people is part of human nature. We get a little bitchy about it sometimes – the “she’s wearing my outfit” line – but really, most things are down to emulation; learning by looking.

When you are ill, the blinkers are on. When you’re getting better, you need a way of re-connecting.

Throughout my recovery, I’ve used other people as a way of challenging my eating disorder head; as a contradiction to the behaviour that my illness deemed ‘normal’. They probably didn’t realise it – and it probably wouldn’t have worked if they were playing a part – but you need to aim for something when you’re on a rocky sea.

Learning from example gave me the guidance I needed.

Taking the Hard Line –

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

By my last hospital admission, the drizzle of cards and flowers and visitors had virtually dried up.

It wasn’t that people didn’t care anymore: it was just that ten years of hospital admissions had sapped them dry. They hadn’t stopped loving me: it was just that they’d got used to being ignored.

At the time, it hurt like hell – hard lessons are not always comfortable – but it made the choice a lot clearer: stay ill and alone – or get better and back in touch.

Sometimes, the brutal truth is more helpful than tea and sympathy.

Sometimes, it’s fairer – on both parts – to lay the cards on the table.

They didn’t disappear – they just stood back and waited.