I’ve gained a lot this week.

Now I’m not talking just weight but I have had such an eye opening, inspiring therapy session, that taught me a lot about myself, that I hadn’t before realised or acknowledged. But, yes, my weight too has increased. On which I have been congratulated by multiple friends and family members. When I say congratulated, I mean, heartfelt joy and pride. Not the “I thought you were looking a bit bigger”, heart sink moment, I had expected. Never have I felt more supported or happy at the daunting fact of gaining weight. Hence why I’m shouting it from the rooftops. Now we’re not talking 100g, ‘drank a glass of water and didnt go for a wee before weighing’ kinda weight gain were going for a full 1.6kg in 3 weeks (just over 3lb if you’re old school). No water loading, no coins in my pockets, no quadruple layers of clothes but genuine, ‘finally getting there’, rehydrated, (somewhat) renourished weight gain.

Last week I skipped my appointment (naughty, I know) but my weight was up at that point and my mood was in my boots. The last thing I wanted to face head on was the question “how do you feel about the gain?”. A week ago, I was devistated. I’d failed, I was useless, I was fat and worthless. I couldn’t even keep control of my weight. The one thing in life that I usually have total control over. I cried, I screamed, I barely ate for close to 24 hours, I binged, I purged, I took laxatives and weight loss tablets. And low and behold, my weight started dropping again. Then one morning I woke up (obviously) and as I went to make my morning coffee, reach for my diet tablets and not even think twice about not having breakfast, I thought “what in the world am I doing to myself?” I felt horrible, weak and I had no energy. After just hours of solid restriction followed by a binge/purge. What a life to live, in fact it’s no life worth living at all and at that point I said to myself “no! This can’t carry on!” I’d managed days of not weighing myself, I knew I could do, I just needed to find that same spark again.

During this week’s therapy we came to the conclusion that, in short, my eating disorder and self destructive behaviours are all away of diverting from how I’m really feeling. A way of avoiding emotions I don’t have effective strategies to deal with and overcome, a diversion from situations out of my control and a way of feeling like I have some kind of grasp on things. In reality, it’s hugely ineffective. In the short term, yes, it has the desired effect, I’m distracted from the feelings or circumstances, I’ve regained some control of my life when externally everything is hugely overwhelming, but, in the long term they’re still there. There’s only so long I can bury my head in the sand and things will, eventually, need facing up to.

My therapist passed a few observations based on what we’ve discussed over the past couple of months, with regards to my personality and coping mechanisms, and we came up with the following assumptions about myself:

  1. I’m way too hard on myself. I carry a lot of guilt for things I shouldn’t really feel guilty about. In all aspects of life. Failing my family, myself and Harvey, eating too much, not achieving perfection, in my life, career, parenting, appearance etc. But really I am doing the best I can and that is good enough and nothing to feel bad about! No matter how much I tell myself it’s ok to not be perfect and aiming for perfection is setting myself up to fail.
  2. As a child I neverr learnt how to deal with emotions in an effective way. My personality and circumstances have meant that when there’s a problem, instead of acknowledging the way I feel and why I strive to find a practical solution. Not always a bad thing but when it comes to rationalising feelings and thoughts there isn’t always a practical solution and having never developed ways to embrace and deal with the unsolvable, I have, instead, adopted very unpractical, ineffective coping mechanisms, ie. A very destructive mental state and eating disorder. Something I can have total control over.
  3. As a result of both of the above I often leave myself feeling very out of my depth and not knowing quite how to ‘cope’ especially when I’m alone. Without the support or simply the company of others, that I often rely on to keep me ‘on the right path’. My therapist likened it to feeling abandoned. Not knowing where or who to turn to and ending up as a panicked mess. Almost like a ‘little’ Caitlin that needs a bit if TLC.

Whilst, some of these points aren’t the nicest things to be told or realise about myself, it’s opened my eyes massively to the areas that I really need to focus on changing, developing and becoming more aware of. For my own benefit, in order to successfully recover from the ED and to enable me to be the best, supportive parent I can be, for Harvey’s sake.

One of the things I said during therapy was that “I see so much of myself and my mannerisms in him and that really scares me”. Delving a bit deeper, it became apparent that the fear of Harvey becoming like me, so to speak, stems from my aim for perfection and my own lack of acceptance towards and understanding of emotions. We’re both very intense people. In the sense that if we’re upset, it’s not just sadness, rationalised and moving on; but instead it’s the absolute, end of the world and things couldn’t be worse. That’s something I’m going to find very difficult to change, not only for myself but in order to model for Harvey and guide him through the process of rationalising and putting perspective on things. My problems around eating and weight and food are, more than likely, a projection of my inability to rationalise and justify my own feelings and has sort of served as a self punishment. My fear for Harvey is not necessarily that he will develop an eating disorder but more that he will be forced to come up with his own ineffective, self destructive coping mechanisms in the absence of support through the ever emotional journey of childhood and all that comes with it. As a mother, the responsibility of preventing that, knowing what I know now and being aware of the conciquences is huge.

These realisations are, I hope, a massive step in the right direction and will form the foundations for a successful recovery process and a happily ever after, not just for myself but my family too. Having all my closest family and friends on board and support my every move, especially when feeling so alone is an absolute blessing. I love you all and can’t thank you enough!


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