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Eating Disorders and life with one - Discussions, Opinions, Advice.

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    Hi everyone. My name is Toto, if you'd like to refer to me by my screen name; or Tommy, if you'd like my actual name. Either way, a name is merely a name, just as a tag is merely a tag. And unfortunately, I am tagged many a time.

    I am a 26 year old man. I'm also suffering from anorexia nervosa (restrictive type), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and multiple anxiety disorder.

    The social stigma associated with, especially anorexia, is not as forgiving with men, it seems. I believe it's because of the very erroneous, silly notion that people develop the disorder through a pursuit of vanity. Mine couldn't be further from that notion; psychologists determined my onset was triggered by being an over-achiever of sorts. I have an insatiable urge to complete life goals I set myself; I struggled to get to college, did so, struggled to get a top grade, did so, then struggled to get into university, did so, struggled again to get the best grades, and managed so. Whilst others gave up trying for the perfect job in such an enormously competitive industry - I strived, and I got the perfect job. Now, with nothing on the horizon, I effectively turned to creating silly daily goals - restricting calorie intake, "beating" what I did yesterday, doing one more sit-up, running one more mile. It has ravaged my body to near death at points.

    http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photo..._6798.jpg?dl=1

    In university, I was a healthy weight, as pictured above. At 5' 7"/8", I weighed in around 125-130lbs. After my problems started, the weight obviously just dropped off to my lowest weight ever - just 91lb. That's a mere 6 stone 7. My muscles atrophied, I could hardly stand, my hair thinned, my concentration waned.

    http://img695.imageshack.us/img695/7...2399000570.jpg

    My days consist of getting up, eating a breakfast of 200 calories, doing around 250 situps, 10 minutes worth of abdominal planks, 300 press-ups, and other various exercises. I eat another meal of fish, steamed vegetables, mushrooms, salad - anything low calorie and filling - later in the day, followed by more exercise. Finally, I go to bed and allow myself a bowl of cereal - my "treat" for the day - and maybe a beer or two whilst I play some videogames. I never break my "calorie cap" of 1500 calories in the day.

    Trying hard, I have been trying to reach that cap, to channel my need to reach goals into a positive. My intention is that I can keep increasing it and reaching the goals in a positive way - one which helps me *gain* weight. It still scares me when the number on the scale goes up as it's synonymous with "losing" against my previous self; but I need to do this in order to *not die*. Which is always a good thing.

    I liken the disorder to a demon on your shoulder, creating a bubble around you. The frustrating thing is you *know* how to get better, but the demon talks you out of it. When you reach for the answer, the bubble stops you. But the bubble is a comfort. It is safe. It is known, accepted, quantifiable.

    With my new methods, I may not have gained much weight (I am just short of 93lb), but I feel a lot stronger day to day and my morale is up. My skin is also less jaundiced and everyone comments I look more full of life:

    http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/479...6853090570.jpg

    It's surprising how quickly your body retains fat and water when you've restricted so long - a terrifying prospect to someone with an eating disorder - but you must stick with it.


    I'd love to open up the floor now to all and any input here into this very diverse topic, to hear perhaps your own stories or any input or advice you can give myself, my peers and anyone else potentially developing one of these insidious conditions.

    All my love to everyone and the absolute best of luck in your own daily battles, regardless of what they may be!
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    Toto; this was quite moving to read.

    Good luck as you traverse through this.
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    You, sir, are a true inspiration.
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    All this time I thought you created tons of threads about food because you were obsessed about it in a good way, I'm saddened to hear that whilst you portrayed an outwards healthy appearance towards it all along there was this great struggle going on underneath. Really wouldn't have known otherwise had you not created this thread.

    Wish you all the best in your fight though, it's bad enough fighting one disorder without having the added problems of OCD and Anxiety on top
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    I already knew you suffered from an eating disorder, but thank you for sharing your full story with us, that was very brave and I'm so glad you're beginning to get better.
    I know what it's like to feel horrible as you see the numbers on the scales going up, I won't divulge into my own story right now, but good luck with your journey to recovery, you've made the hardest step :hugs:
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    Thank you to everyone for the truly kind comments. I honestly mean it. The truth is, the obsession with numbers and limits is a curse which leaves one truly desperate to break loose.

    Smoosh, this thread was created specifically FOR your story! I would very much like to hear it, and I'm sure you would be liberated to be able to tell it. X
    #1

    :clap2: Your battle against easting disorder is very moving, i hope you defeat your 'demon' and move forward on your road to recovery.

    Numbers ruled my life about a year ago; i would constantly watch what i ate, counting the calories, and slowly reducing them as each day passed. I would only allow myself 200 calories per day, which left me feeling starved, constantly on edge, and tired. It happened quite suddenly for me, i was quite happy with my body, but i felt as if i had no control in anything i did or wanted to do because of my family, and i was too young to move out, starving myself was my way of regaining control. I would end up doing some bizarre things to fool myself into feeling like I’ve just eaten, by having an empty plate in front of me, and 'pretend' to eat, if anyone saw me, they'd think i was crazy, maybe i was a little.

    Now that i think about it, it does seem very silly, but at the time, i wanted to feel as if i had some sort of power, even if it was just controlling what i consumed. It was only when my family started to worry that i realised how stupid i was acting and started to eat properly again. I guess i never really had complete control over what i was doing; i was only trying to fool myself into thinking so.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    :clap2: Your battle against easting disorder is very moving, i hope you defeat your 'demon' and move forward on your road to recovery.

    Numbers ruled my life about a year ago; i would constantly watch what i ate, counting the calories, and slowly reducing them as each day passed. I would only allow myself 200 calories per day, which left me feeling starved, constantly on edge, and tired. It happened quite suddenly for me, i was quite happy with my body, but i felt as if i had no control in anything i did or wanted to do because of my family, and i was too young to move out, starving myself was my way of regaining control. I would end up doing some bizarre things to fool myself into feeling like I’ve just eaten, by having an empty plate in front of me, and 'pretend' to eat, if anyone saw me, they'd think i was crazy, maybe i was a little.

    Now that i think about it, it does seem very silly, but at the time, i wanted to feel as if i had some sort of power, even if it was just controlling what i consumed. It was only when my family started to worry that i realised how stupid i was acting and started to eat properly again. I guess i never really had complete control over what i was doing; i was only trying to fool myself into thinking so.
    That feeling of having a drive, a control - it's a theme with a lot of eating disorders and I totally feel for you through it. When everything in life seems so... undecided, at least you have your numbers - your quantifiable, addable, subtractable perfect numbers.

    The frustration is that I know that numbers don't rule things. You can look massive and the numbers be lower, or look like a skeleton and the numbers be higher. But it's a comfort, an easily understood, easy to monitor system that's all too easy to slowly become a crutch...
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    Smoosh, would you be so kind as to share any of your personal endeavours/experiences with myself, for my own perspective and to aid others too?

    Anyone else in a similar situation, please also add to this thread if you feel comfortable doing so!
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    Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck with everything you do
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    I wish you all the luck in the world with your recovery, and I wish my best friend could have some of your strength to try and recover too.
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    (Original post by TotoMimo)
    Smoosh, would you be so kind as to share any of your personal endeavours/experiences with myself, for my own perspective and to aid others too?

    Anyone else in a similar situation, please also add to this thread if you feel comfortable doing so!
    This might be a bit long and rambly and probably won't make complete sense, but I'll try tell as much of my own story as possible.

    When I was in year 11 at school I weighed around 105lbs (7 and a half stone), that's my natural weight, and had been for a while. I'd always hated my body for as long as I could remember. In fact, I remember being about 8 years old and feeling guilty after eating a sandwich, so I spent the rest of the night on my brother's exercise bike trying to burn it off, and I used to do the same with my dance mat when I was about 10-12 years old. So, I guess, it's always been there with me.

    One day, after I'd finished my GCSEs, in the summer, I finally thought "I've had enough of hating my body, I'm going to fix it". I'd somehow managed to come across weight loss videos on youtube (videos of people blogging their own weight loss each week), and I suppose that inspired me. That night I had a bowl of cucumber for dinner, and that's where it all began.

    My weight started dropping and soon enough in a month or so I was down to 98lbs (7 stone). I went to school to pick up my GCSE results, and all my friends commented on how skinny I looked. I obviously knew I'd lost the weight, and I was proud of myself...I remember that day I was wearing age 11-12 shorts. Even though they seemed shocked, and not in a good way, that just made me feel even better about it - it felt amazing that other people noticed as well.

    Going back to sixth form after the summer was tough, I was worried it'd make me eat more, so I used to pack nothing to stop myself. I drifted apart from my friends because I used to get angry when they'd try to persuade me to eat or talk about my weight, and I didn't want them to notice how little I was eating. Me and my boyfriend at the time were also going through a rough patch at the time, so I started feeling pretty lonely, it was like being so obsessive and controlling over what I was eating stopped me from feeling bad and alone.

    My weight sort of hit a plateau at 96lbs, and I started the "2468 diet" (200 calories one day, then 400, then 600, then 800, then starting back at 200), which supposedly tricks your metabolism to help you lose weight. It was around this time that I started seeing my doctor and my school was informed, my parents knew there was something wrong, and I guess they wanted to help. I saw my doctor every week for a while, and she decided to refer me to a hospital. I started going to the hospital to see a psychiatrist and dietician once a week as well, and at this point I was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I absolutely hated going to the hospital, I hated listening to everything I already knew...all the risks of being underweight, and I felt patronised. At this point I was also self-harming, and I just felt like they spent most of the time prodding and poking me and doing tests on me (I've lost count of the number of blood tests they made me have). They tried to convince me to drop out of sixth form and almost made me an inpatient, but I refused, school was the most important thing in my life.

    By this point I was weighing myself a few times a day, those numbers controlled my entire life. If they went down slightly, I'd have a good day, but if I saw them go up, I wouldn't eat at all. For some reason my body seems to object to me eating less than 200 calories, so I spent many days throwing up from lack of food. I finally hit 90lbs (slightly under 6 and a half stone), and my life was a mess. I felt like I had no control over my school work (which only encouraged me to control and restrict my food more), my friends were disappearing, my relationship was a mess, I saw my parents crying many a time because they were so worried, and I was told I'd possibly made myself infertile...but nothing even seemed to bother me, my answer to everything was "but at least I'll be thin".

    I don't really know what happened, but I was at my friend's 17th birthday party, I saw everyone else having fun, eating pizza and doritos, and I thought...I want to be like them. That's the day I stopped caring, and started eating again. When my parents saw, they withdrew me from my treatment at the hospital, and my life started becoming more and more normal again.

    Now it's almost 3 years later, and I weigh around 100lbs. It took almost a year for my weight to go above 96lbs again, even though I was eating normally. I've relapsed about 2 times, although neither time was too bad. I still look at my body, and hate what I've done to it, but I hated it when it was 90lbs as well, so I'm learning that it's my body and that's the most amazing thing, and I'm learning to embrace it.

    For me, it was about hating my looks, as well as being a perfectionist (I see everything as a challenge - things can always be perfected and made better), loving the seeing the numbers drop, and control of my life when everything else felt so out of control. Sometimes I wish I'd finished my CBT, maybe I would see my body differently today. But I try my hardest to accept that this is how I need to look to be healthy, my boyfriend has been amazing, and I know he'd hate my body if he saw it how it was then. Sometimes it's hard, but my life is so much better than it ever was back then, and I know that's massively down to me eating properly, so for that reason alone, I know I have to do it, I want to be healthy

    Well, thank you (and congrats ) for anyone who managed to read that massive ramble.
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    Smoosh, I feel for you. It genuinely sounds like your heart and soul has went into an almost desperate plea to be stronger and healthier than you are. If you can achieve that, it's truly enviable. To know where your pain and suffering lies but being able to pinpoint and resolve it is a gift. My love and strength to you throughout this tough time, m'dear... but I doubt you need it. You seem strong and confident without it!
    #2

    TotoMino: who are you kidding?! You may be less jaundiced but you are far removed from healthy. You're a young, active male maintaining a pitiful weight and subsurviving on 1500 calories. From personal experience, I can honestly say that your distorted thoughts will reduce quite dramatically with increased calorie intake (this will be 3000+) and, in time, disappear almost entirely with weight restoration. It will be physically and emotionally one of the most difficult things you ever do, but trust me when I say that it is so worth it. You seem like such a smart, hard working, decent guy: you deserve more than a life with anorexia because it is, quite frankly, hell.

    I apologise if I sound a little harsh but I've been in a very similar situation to yourself. I'm a little shorter height at 170cm and maintained a weight of 73lbs for 4 months. I thought I was fine but in time, my health deteriorated and I was hospitalised. I was reliably eating a socially acceptable amount (1200) yet I came very close to death. It took 7 months of inpatient treatment and a diet of 3500+ calories to restore my weight.

    I seriously urge you to seek more intensive professional help.
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    (Original post by TotoMimo)
    I believe it's because of the very erroneous, silly notion that people develop the disorder through a pursuit of vanity.
    :hugs: Tommy, you are such a brave person to speak so openly about this, and you've highlighted a huge misconception people have about eating disorders. It makes anorexia seem so superficial when people believe they starve themselves to look "good".

    I, too, suffer from Anorexia, triggered mostly by previously abusive relationships, bullying and a "rocky" home-life. I won't go into detail about these things, I feel so ashamed to have let people run me down like that.

    I had to be taken out of my second year of College because I became so underweight and unwell. I sunk into a horrible depression in the months waiting to start College again because all my 'friends' essentially forgot about me, and I felt like I'd lost my purpose without something to work towards like University.

    Fast-forward (about a year or so) to now, I'm about to start my exams in my third year of College, and still struggling. Yesterday my therapist told me that I'd lost weight again (despite adding a glass of milk to my diet :mad:) and if I don't gain 0.2kg by next weeks weigh-in I'll be put into hospital. I'm working myself up completely over this, because I'm terrified of having to cancel my exams AGAIN - which would mean not going on to be a Mental Health Nurse in September. So I'm eating an extra banana and a glass of orange juice a day, and even though I hate myself for it and crying like a loon every hour, I know it'll get easier and that if I don't do this I won't be able to help others in my situation.

    Please continue with your treatment, it is one of the greatest achievements beating an eating disorder and no doubt you will be an inspiration to others when you do.
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    Brie, you are a brave soul. To an anorexic, the absolute control over numbers means that when someone from the outside - your parents, a friend, even a doctor - imposes something new into your routine, it can seem like the entire world is collapsing around you.

    Things as trivial and simple as someone offering you a biscuit or "want half of this sandwich?" become a crazy, mind-wracking dilemma.

    As to the anonymous poster above, I understand I'm nowhere near the point of recovery; these are merely the very first baby steps. I'm glad to hear you've conquered your own 'demon', at least a great deal further than I have my own, and wish you all the best too. When things begin to intensify for me, I'm sure I will be terrified, but like I said, at this very early stage, it's all about positive thinking for me.
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    (Original post by briesandwich)
    :hugs: Tommy, you are such a brave person to speak so openly about this, and you've highlighted a huge misconception people have about eating disorders. It makes anorexia seem so superficial when people believe they starve themselves to look "good".

    I, too, suffer from Anorexia, triggered mostly by previously abusive relationships, bullying and a "rocky" home-life. I won't go into detail about these things, I feel so ashamed to have let people run me down like that.

    I had to be taken out of my second year of College because I became so underweight and unwell. I sunk into a horrible depression in the months waiting to start College again because all my 'friends' essentially forgot about me, and I felt like I'd lost my purpose without something to work towards like University.

    Fast-forward (about a year or so) to now, I'm about to start my exams in my third year of College, and still struggling. Yesterday my therapist told me that I'd lost weight again (despite adding a glass of milk to my diet :mad:) and if I don't gain 0.2kg by next weeks weigh-in I'll be put into hospital. I'm working myself up completely over this, because I'm terrified of having to cancel my exams AGAIN - which would mean not going on to be a Mental Health Nurse in September. So I'm eating an extra banana and a glass of orange juice a day, and even though I hate myself for it and crying like a loon every hour, I know it'll get easier and that if I don't do this I won't be able to help others in my situation.

    Please continue with your treatment, it is one of the greatest achievements beating an eating disorder and no doubt you will be an inspiration to others when you do.
    I just wanted to say, I think you're really brave. Managing to go back to college again to do your exams is amazing, I think a lot of people would've just given up. And eating the extra food is a really brave and sensible thing to do as well. Just remember, everything extra that you eat is healthy food, and it's only going to aid you and make you feel a million times better. I wish you the best of luck in recovering and doing well in your exams :hugs:


    (Original post by TotoMimo)
    Brie, you are a brave soul. To an anorexic, the absolute control over numbers means that when someone from the outside - your parents, a friend, even a doctor - imposes something new into your routine, it can seem like the entire world is collapsing around you.

    Things as trivial and simple as someone offering you a biscuit or "want half of this sandwich?" become a crazy, mind-wracking dilemma.

    As to the anonymous poster above, I understand I'm nowhere near the point of recovery; these are merely the very first baby steps. I'm glad to hear you've conquered your own 'demon', at least a great deal further than I have my own, and wish you all the best too. When things begin to intensify for me, I'm sure I will be terrified, but like I said, at this very early stage, it's all about positive thinking for me.
    I remember the days when someone did this to me, and it would completely ruin my day. If a friend even offered me a polo I'd either have to say yes and be disgusted at myself and lower the rest of my calorie plan for the day...or I'd no and know they'd all think I was stupid for being too scared to add an extra 5 calories into my diet. It really is amazing what that need for control can stretch you to.
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    I remember the days when someone did this to me, and it would completely ruin my day. If a friend even offered me a polo I'd either have to say yes and be disgusted at myself and lower the rest of my calorie plan for the day...or I'd no and know they'd all think I was stupid for being too scared to add an extra 5 calories into my diet. It really is amazing what that need for control can stretch you to.
    I hear you. At my absolute darkest of days, I was weighing SALAD. It's terrifying the hold the numbers have on you, and even loosening the grip a little bit now feels like I'm free - but to an outsider, it must seem hellish. However, when you know what I've endured before (and many others have too) in circumstances where regiment almost killed me, my life now (even though it's still heavily restricted) feels a world apart.
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    *hugs*
    I know exactly what you are going through.
    I didn't have the best start in life; I had a tough childhood which caused me (and still to this day causes) a lot of pain and upset. I ultimately used food as a way of gaining some control over my life. I was literally obsessed; I would think constantly about food - yet would deprive myself from eating. I would weigh everything, stand religiously on the scales and eat in private. This made me feel powerful and made me feel as if I was in control.
    I was hospitalised, I failed my A Levels yet still was delusional; I still craved control and thought that there was nothing wrong with what I was doing to myself. Now, I'm at university and at a 'healthy weight' but does that mean that everything is okay? No.

    To an outsider, everything would seem a-okay. I no longer look skeletal and my obsession with food and cookery shows makes it seem as if I have a passion for food; but in reality, I'm so close to slipping back into my old ways. I may be healthy now but I know that i'll never be able to fully recover as I just can't shake off this mindset.
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    (Original post by .Scout.)
    *hugs*
    I know exactly what you are going through.
    I didn't have the best start in life; I had a tough childhood which caused me (and still to this day causes) a lot of pain and upset. I ultimately used food as a way of gaining some control over my life. I was literally obsessed; I would think constantly about food - yet would deprive myself from eating. I would weigh everything, stand religiously on the scales and eat in private. This made me feel powerful and made me feel as if I was in control.
    I was hospitalised, I failed my A Levels yet still was delusional; I still craved control and thought that there was nothing wrong with what I was doing to myself. Now, I'm at university and at a 'healthy weight' but does that mean that everything is okay? No.

    To an outsider, everything would seem a-okay. I no longer look skeletal and my obsession with food and cookery shows makes it seem as if I have a passion for food; but in reality, I'm so close to slipping back into my old ways. I may be healthy now but I know that i'll never be able to fully recover as I just can't shake off this mindset.
    Oh, Scout, my dear, I really hope you can break this. It's a demon. It's not just a compulsion. It's a genuine demon that haunts and influences you, that stops you from enjoying life.

    Right now, it's still gripping me, but you yourself have identified the worst of the aspects it tends to show; you just need to fight it. You most likely have an underweight frame and still criticise yourself relentlessly., and even if you don't, this is something you can see, and you at least have the option to fight it. I say you're an absolute inspiration, even in your times of weakness. Some of us don't have that level of strength...

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