A little over a month ago I wrote about how being on a restricted diet for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) was making my anorexia ‘flare up’. My mental health has continued to deteriorate in this way which is scary. I am becoming increasingly afraid of food and have become particularly anxious around meat because I am irrationally afraid that something about it will make me ill. I cried over some fish the other day because the packet was already open in the fridge and I was convinced it could be contaminated so I was too afraid to eat it. I have been feeling low and irritable. I’m snapping at my family all the time and it saddens me. At first I felt proud that despite the weight-loss and the returning anorexic thoughts I felt certain that I didn’t want to be thin and eat a restricted diet. I thought I’d beaten Ana. But the longer it continues the harder it is getting to fight it. I can see and feel my ribs and although part of me worries and thinks I don’t want to look like this another part tells me I need to be thinner to justify complaining that I’m not ok. I’m starting to want to hide my body in case people make comments and try to make me eat more. I almost threw away the fish in secret when I was afraid to eat it instead of just being honest about how I felt. Ana is starting to make me want to hide, to lie, to keep secrets, to avoid social situations that involve food and alcohol. My clothes are starting to look too big and I when an extra small is too big I don’t want to tell anyone. When I was anxious after eating chicken I felt agitated and had to go for a walk. That’s Ana making me exercise. It’s really not good. The anxiety is increasing in all elements of my life and I find I’m more afraid than usual about germs, about losing people, about committing to plans.
I’m seeing a counsellor every fortnight and we’ve started talking about these issues. She feels it’s unethical for a nutritionist to put me on this diet and questioned its efficacy. I told the nutritionist how I’ve been feeling and she’s given me some tablets that should kill the bacteria (rather than just starving them) to try and speed up the process. A friend of mine who is also in recovery said that maybe its Ana coming back one last time so I can prove to myself I can beat it. It’s useful in a way to be able to talk to the counsellor about it and how it feels in order to address why it started in the first place so that I have a better chance of beating it. Having the counsellor and close friends to talk to about it means I’m more likely to keep fighting it. This time I know more about anorexia and how it works, I know why I’m feeling this way. This is all helping.
It’s a balancing act between improving my physical health without destroying my mental health. I’m not at the tipping point just yet but I know I’m close. Ultimately, my mental health has to come first. There will be no point in healing my digestive system if I’m shivering in the clutches of anorexia. Whilst I’m not at my tipping point, I’m at the point where I have to admit that this possibility is very real and very frightening. I’m at the point where I need those around me to keep an eye on my behaviours and question me if I’m not eating anything but vegetables. I fight hard every day on my own but now I’m calling in the reinforcements.