Not here again...

Friday, 14 December 2012

I am trapped in a corner, a cowering animal running from what feels like the inevitable slaughter. Sacrifice the weak. I am most definitely weak, or I would not be in this situation. Today the call came, as I think part of me knew it would "We are highly concerned" they said "No longer medically safe", "high risk of organ failure" all together equals "we want you to come in next week, a bed will be ready, and we will monitor you heavily up until then". I went cold, my entire body shaking. It seems ridiculous, I got myself into this position, I knew it was coming, especially after my weigh in yesterday. My weight is the lowest it was been, even I was shocked as I climbed onto the scales and the number flashed in front of me. A BMI of 13.2 is not good. How have I lost so much weight so quickly? I do not know, I couldn't answer it for you, all I know is that I am drowning. So what am I doing? I am determined to turn it around before they drag me in. I cannot spend Christmas on the ward, I can't think of anything worse than that. Eating the slop they serve. I asked mum to hold my hand and I said I needed to prove to them that I can do it and that i'm safe, from home my blood pressure, blood sugar and temperature can be monitored. Blood tests every two days and re-feeding. How awful does that sound 're-feeding', it just screams of the brutal images of suffragettes with tubes down their throats to me. I can promise you though, re-feeding at home is a hell of a lot better than in Vincent Square. At least from home I can have delicious food, as oppose to hospital food. So what did I do to prove my strength...we went to Carluccios. I ordered pasta. Pasta with butter and mushrooms and herbs. We asked for a kids portion yet when it came it was terrifying. To me it looked huge, beautifully cut ribbons glistening with butter and sprinkled with golden mushrooms and chives. Bite by bite I ate. Slow. Painful. Each mouthful was painful, but I pictured the ward. I pictured Christmas. I pictured my friends, boyfriend, family and for them I ate. Anorexia has taken so much from me, I have had to defer this year at university, I have not been able to move out, I am not Maya. I am not full of life, vivacious and happy. I rarely laugh like I used to. It came in and pillaged and I opened the door. But now I must try, so so hard, to prove to them that I CAN turn this around. I can. I can. I can.

Any words of advice would be appreciated. 
Something to stick up in the kitchen as we prepare food.
I must keep going and hopefully keep out of hospital.

Whichever way there's obstacles...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

An uphill struggle, a fight with myself, a battle with and for control. I am burning, yet feed the flames. Never at peace. Even in sleep. Scars on my stomach, could the hatred be marking? My own stigmata. These bones are a blanket. Hide me from the real problems. A soft cover can also be a cage of thorns. Do I look in the mirror and see beauty? Never. Failure stares back at me. Ugly. I will never be enough. Zero is the best number. Nothing. Gone. It is an empty shell. Not enough for most. They want more. Appropriate that is me. In tennis, love. I love.

I sit and help feed Lola, my small niece. She can eat much better by herself than last time I saw her. Little pasta shapes on her spoon, flavored with butter. “I ate a hippo” she giggles at me. I smile at her, baffled, but used to her hilarious statements. “Yum Lols, where did you get that?” She looks at me and then points into her bowl. Animal pasta shapes. She carries on eating, happily, until the bottom of the bowl, when things get tricky. I help her get the last few pieces. She needs no coaxing, she simply opens her mouth happily and hungrily, appreciating the help and lapping up her hippos. Doing all I can to help her grow makes me inexplicably happy. I encourage her to munch away “mmm, delicious” I say, once the bowl is empty. She looks at me, perplexed. Then into the bowl, then back at me. “Still hungry Lols?” I smile. This is unlike her, she has already polished off some eggs, now the bowl of pasta, and she is still looking at me expectantly. Yoghurt next. She munches away, making exaggerated eating sounds as she goes and spreading yoghurt around her mouth. More often than not Lola is not a happy camper at meal times, not wanting to eat very much and taking much coaxing and persuasion. This evening however, she is obviously hungry. 16 years my junior, Lola clearly has more common sense than me. She answers to her body’s needs, sensing when she needs a little more. Maybe she’s going to grow. I am hit by the realization that the meal this tiny 4 year old has just finished off would send me into a spiral of panic. Lola is thin. My sister often jokes that she needs feeding up. Whilst some may not even bat an eye lid at this little girl feeding herself, lifting the cutlery up in to her mouth. Smiling with enjoyment, I marvel at her talent. It seems impossible to me that I was ever so happy with food. That I ever enjoyed a bowl of pasta. I loved pasta. Now I am like a small child, learning to eat again. It is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. I cannot get my head around it. I look back at Lola, she is smiling up at me, both of us sitting at her little table and chair set. I get up and take away her empty bowl. Get her off her seat. “Thank you auntie Maya”, she tots, not realizing the wave of love that her little voice causes to over come me. I bend and give her a huge cuddle, unable to believe that I am going to be on the other side of the World from this little girl once again within 62 hours. I can’t bare it. I see my sister watching us, 20 years my senior, but not looking her age at all. I see smiles and worry combined in her eyes. The guilt this brings on is huge. I hate worrying everyone, and I know she is upset after seeing me this trip. We had spoken about it, of course, but sitting with my niece and helping her eat had really homed in what my illness must mean to others. Whilst at that table with Lola, I was able to keep the monster away. All my strength was mustered, although I was not even faced with the challenge of food. I knew though, Lola would not dine with that daemon present. She is a fiercely intelligent little girl, with an incredible grasp on the emotions of those around her. If I were anxious, she would know it, and it might rub off on her. The amount of love and care and protectiveness I feel towards Lola let me quell the monster, if only while she ate. I did not think about calories, I did not feel my stomach to check it was still flat, I did not let it sit at that table with us. I knew I would do anything to stop Lola ever even see the fanged beast, let alone let it anywhere near her. I would wrestle and gauge and batter it if it came near her. I would know if it was going to. However, those who love me could not have had the knowledge I do of how to recognize it sneaking in. My family, friends, incredible Jacob have to sit and watch as I struggle with what has infested within me, polluting. I could not feel worse about what I am putting them through. What this has done to them. The guilt is crippling. I feel that if I were a good person, I would be better. I would eat. I can’t bare making them so unhappy. They try to speak to me about it. They have been trying for so long. At least I accept it now. I am not still denying it.

I remember the first time I was told I was too thin. ‘Too thin’ was not in my vocabulary. The concept was impossible to me. How could anyone be ‘too thin’? However, although I know it was not meant as a compliment, a little something inside of me smiled. Patted me on the back. “See how good that feels?” It hissed. I looked at my dear Thea’s concerned face. Her eyes looked wet. I felt dreadful. Here she was, taking so much courage and care to try and help me, and I am glowing. “I’m just worried Maya, I’m worried you’re losing perspective, I’m worried, you’re not quite you any more. You don’t look right twin”. Her gentle term of endearment had thrown me, the beast was pushed down for a minute, overruled by the part of me that thrived on being considered as close as a sister to someone. Anorexia detected this moment of weakness and quelled it, although I did not recognize it for what it was at the time. “Too thin? Ha, as if, show her your rotund stomach, grab the mountains of flab that prove gluttony on your hips. You stick out in all the wrong places, it’s a deformity, the way your body is formed, why else would you jut out around your middle, then curve back in before the top of your legs. Violin deformity. That’s what they call it”. When questioned, attack. Anorexia leaves no room for doubt. Once it has dug its claws into its chosen body, it will not give up easily.

       I worry that they all think that because I am not better, I do not care about them. The only reason I care about me is in relation to them. I thrive on looking after others. Not only in the ‘feeder’ capacity, traditional of many anorexics, but in many others. That is my role, although anorexia has incapacitated me of this ability in many ways. My mother always says that to look after her, I need to look after me.

       I thought I was more ‘normal’ now. I thought people wouldn’t really notice my odd eating habits as much. Compared to where I was before, I thought I was doing great. Then reality hit. I am still a freak. Puppet to it. It ruins things. I ruin things. A trip with my girls ended only a few weeks ago in a fraught, emotional, teary conversation. I am not normal. They are so worried. I was hurt, I was angry, I was surprised. Couldn’t they see how well I was doing now? Couldn’t they remember me before. When I would only eat green beans? “Are you sure you should be going to uni Maya? It’s pretty stressful?” “But I’m fine, look, I’m coping, I love uni, I love having another focus, otherwise I’m alone with it, left behind completely, I cant let it put my life on hold”. “We’re only saying this because we love you and we’re worried”. Déjà vu. I remembered this conversation. I’d had it so many times, Thea, parents, friends, Jacob, teachers. “Don’t you think youd look a bit better if you just put on a bit of weight”. Slap in the face. Although I know this is all coming from a place of love and care, that statement knocks me. I cannot even speak. I just sob, harder. I try to say it, but I cant. I’m too hurt and battered and angry to even say the words. It is not to do with how I look. I know I look like shit. I hate that I cannot sit and eat bread and butter and cheese with you all. It is not bread I know. It is foreign and scary. If it were to do with how I look then it would be easy. I thought they knew that. People always say things like “but you/she was such a pretty girl”. As if that is what makes the disease confusing. As if if I were the bearded woman, with a monobrow, warts and 3 eyes, then it would make sense. I could look like Cheryl Cole, Kate Moss (whoever is considered beautiful these days), or look like a baboons backside. It would make no difference. There are many different theories about why it happens. Environment, biological, need for control, pressure from ourselves, pressure from the media, pressure from those around us. I think it is a combination of them all. Maybe I am kidding myself and it is simply me striving for beauty. However, if this were the case, then all those afflicted with an eating disorder are vain, selfish and judgmental. I do not measure the value of others on how they look. I have friends of all shapes and sizes and I do not care. ‘Normal’ is not anything to me. Those with disabilities, I still love. My love for them if not effected by what some may describe as an abnormality. I do not measure in physical beauty. Some have argued that I have surrounded myself with a particularly ‘beautiful’ group of friends. This is true, however, I did not choose those girls because of how they look. We do not sit around discussing latest beauty techniques and how to better ourselves in the looks department (quite the opposite, our common room at school was filled with conversations frequently of toilets, our bodily functions, and other not so ‘ladylike’ topics). If it were the case that this is what cemented our friendship, then even if they had once considered me ‘pretty’, they would sure as hell not be friends with me now. Anorexia is not pretty. Yet they still rally around me and I am lucky.  I cannot argue with the fact that societies weight focus has definitely had an influence, however, the cat walk is not to blame for the curse. If it were not through food, then my feelings towards myself would have manifested themselves in another way, I would have chosen another form of punishment. The worry, frantic conversations, tears come from a place of love, I know that. I know I would be just as frustrated if it were someone else. Everyone has different opinions on how to make it better. Uni/no uni.  Inpatient/outpatient. No one knows. There is no clear path. Trial and error. No wonder drugs. Some that can help, just a little. None that can fix it though.

I wish I could sit and eat animal pasta covered in butter with my niece. I wish I didn’t upset everyone. I wish I could be well. All I ever wanted was to be ‘better’. 


Saturday, 9 June 2012

   Soon, soon the flesh
   The grave cave ate will be
   At home on me
   And I a smiling woman.
   I am only thirty.
   And like the cat I have nine times to die.
   This is Number Three.
   What a trash
   To annihilate each decade.
   What a million filaments.
   The peanut-crunching crowd
   Shoves in to see
   Them unwrap me hand and foot
   The big strip tease.
   Gentlemen, ladies
   These are my hands
   My knees.
   I may be skin and bone,
   Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
   The first time it happened I was ten.
   It was an accident.
   The second time I meant
   To last it out and not come back at all.
   I rocked shut
   As a seashell.
   They had to call and call
   And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
   Is an art, like everything else,
   I do it exceptionally well.
   I do it so it feels like hell.
   I do it so it feels real.
   I guess you could say I've a call.
   It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
   It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
   It's the theatrical
   Comeback in broad day
   To the same place, the same face, the same brute
   Amused shout:
   'A miracle!'
   That knocks me out.
   There is a charge
   For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
   For the hearing of my heart----
   It really goes.
   And there is a charge, a very large charge
   For a word or a touch
   Or a bit of blood
   Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
   So, so, Herr Doktor.
   So, Herr Enemy.
   I am your opus,
   I am your valuable,
   The pure gold baby
   That melts to a shriek.
   I turn and burn.
   Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
   Ash, ash ---
   You poke and stir.
   Flesh, bone, there is nothing there---

An extract from Lady Lazarus- Sylvia Plath

The past few days have been stressful and anxious. I caught a stomach bug.When someone struggling with anorexia catches a stomach bug however, it 
is not simply a duvet day in bed. It is my mother making anxious calls to 
various medical professionals, resulting in the final conclusion "Get her to 
casualty as quickly as possible". So we went. As I was bundled into the car mum tried to joke "Car, take us to Ealing hospital" she said, making light of the fact that considering the amount of journeys we have made too and from the hospital, our little Yaris should know the route off by heart. I forced a smile. She held my hand and started up the car. When we got to the hospital I was shivering violently. We proceeded into the Accident and Emergency unit, it was, as usual, busy. The fact that it was a bank holiday seemed to make little difference to this fact. We went to the desk and were greeted by a friendly looking man, he looked over at me and smiled, the way you smile at a young child. Clearly my lack of makeup and normal clothing had led him to believe I was much younger than my twenty years. The man and mum both looked at me, expecting me to say something. I stood, mute. Looked at mum, giving her the message that I sure as hell didn't feel like explaining things, nor did I want to be there, so she could do the talking. "My daughter, Maya, she's got anorexia, she's currently being treated, but she's been sick all this morning and we were advised to get her to accident and emergency". "Self induced?" The man said accusingly. "NO" I offered forcefully. I knew they would all assume this. It made me angry. Mum held my hand "No, I've been with her, she can't control it. We're just worried about her electrolytes, specifically her potassium levels and obviously her heart". I could feel the silent waiting room full of people listening. I shuddered, hating that they all knew my horrible title "anorexic". "Right- take a seat and someone will be with you in a minute". We moved to two empty seats. Compulsively mum pulled off her coat, carefully folded it and put it down on the chair for me to sit on, recognising the hard hospital chairs were not make for my small bony bum. Within two minutes we were called in to see the nurse. The eyes of the waiting room burned into us. We'd skipped the queue. The little boy with a bandage around his head was crying steadily. Yet again I flushed as we scurried into the nurses office. My vital were taken. Very low blood pressure. Very high temperature. I was quickly swept into another room, bundled into a hospital gown, laid on a bed, wired up to a machine to check my heart. Pricked, prodded, blood taken. The nurse fumbled and blood oozed all down my arm. A procedure which once threw me into hysterics has now become routine, however, this blip brought on a wave of terror. I sobbed and sobbed. They forced another needle into my arm, much more painful than I knew it should have been. Quickly I was hooked up to a drip. I put on my iPod and closed my eyes. I lay down. With my right arm hooked to the drip I was scared to move it. My left was soon also assaulted. A second attempt to get blood. This time successful. With my eyes closed, my other senses were sharpened. I knew the drip was not yet on, I had not felt the cold liquid starting through my body. I turned and saw a group of medics fiddling with the machine. "It's saying there's an air bubble". I waited. More people came, fiddled, left. Still no rush of cold. Then, suddenly, I felt it. It was not just cold, it hurt. I breathed in sharply and turned to the doctor "It hurts" I told him. "It's the potassium, it will a bit". He said unsympathetically. So I lay there and fell asleep. Mum by my side reading Harry Potter. Every inch of my waif like body despising the foolish girl who had got it into this position. I woke up suddenly, needing the toilet. "I'll grab a wheelchair" the doctor said "I can walk, I walked in here". "Are you sure, your blood pressure is so low, I don't think you can". "I'm pretty sure I could skip there if you wanted" I told him. He did not laugh. Instead of a wheelchair a large porter was summoned to walk behind me, his arms held in front of him slightly open, shuffling along as a nurse guided my drip. We must have looked absolutely ludicrous. I'm pretty sure if I had seen this performance I would have been hysterical, however, I wasn't, I was pissed off. I was pissed off with the porter, shuffling along as if I needed to be carried. I was pissed off with the doctor, for not allowing me to push my own drip. Ultimately though, I was pissed off with myself, for getting to such a state that a slight stomach bug could lead to such hysteria. 

Hours and hours passed, me, lying in bed, drip pulsing through my arm, mum sitting patiently, reading Harry Potter and stroking my head periodically. Every now and then a nurse would appear, take my temperature, blood pressure, frown. "My blood pressure is ALWAYS low" I pleaded with each one "It's never going to get up to normal, however long we wait". Mum seconded this, until they told her the reading "Bloody hell, that IS low Maya, even lower than usual, lie down". I do as I am told and lie and lie, drifting in and out of sleep, thinking about how the hell I ended up here. Wishing that someone could have shown me a photo of me now, lying in a hospital gown with a drip hanging out of my arm. That someone could have showed me a photo of myself last summer, upon entering the eating disorder unit. That someone could have poignantly drawn my attention to the fact that prior to me developing an eating disorder there were new photos of me every week out with friends and having fun. Since anorexia entered my life however, these photos have slowly dissolved into just shy of nothingness. Kate Moss' mishap line "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is held up as a holy motto among many wishing to lose weight, as well as those suffering from eating disorders. My response is me, two years ago, to me now. Skinny does not feel good. I thought it would make things better, that i'd be more confident. That i'd be happy. I have achieved none of this. In fact, quite the opposite. Anorexia is full of such contradictions. People say we are searching for control, ultimately, we end up puppets to the disorder. People say we are vain and starving for attention. We end up wishing we could just disappear. People say we are searching for happiness. We plunge ourselves into hell. So, I know all of this. I am totally aware of the fact that starvation has not made me happy. That it has not been a magic cure to my problems. That ultimately, this lifestyle will lead to my demise. So, you must be wondering...why the hell isn't she sitting eating anything she can get her hands on right now? Well, that's the trick. Anorexia is an addiction. When starving, your body produces huge amounts of adrenaline. This means many of those suffering with anorexia will literally be waifs, as high as kites. This is why even when I was completely empty, literally starving, I was still managing to run like a maniac. This is why I have sleepless nights. You become a manic insomniac, and you are addicted to it. However, you are not a happy manic insomniac. I MUST stress this. There is a reason there has been a noticeable change in my character in the past two years and that is, whilst my body is getting lots and lots of adrenaline, I am not able to produce serotonin, i.e. the happy chemical. It needs food to get into your brain and fill it with happy happy rainbows. No food=no rainbows. This is another thing no one tells you before you begin starving. There is a reason Beyonce looks a hell of a lot happier than Keira Knightly, Posh and Kate Moss. So, the moral of the story? Happiness does not reside at the bottom of an empty stomach, biology tells us this, but if that isn't enough, I am walking proof. 

Stupid bears...

Sunday, 29 April 2012

You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you can't go round have to go through it. So what the hell happens if you go through it and end up further back then where you began? Well, the initial reaction is to say "This is bloody unfair", it just fuels the monster, inside it roars with pleasure, applauds you for losing weight, but still kicks you for being so frivolous, weak, such a disappointment and eating. "You dodged a bullet there" it hisses "but you won't be so lucky next time". It is not only the monster that is attacking, you visibly see everyone in the room slump, disappointment pasted across my mother's face, the guilt is overwhelming. I hate upsetting everyone, but I cannot win. If I lose, upset, if I gain, attack. I suppose I just need to bare in mind that either way it will be painful, so I might as well bite the damn bullet and go down the least dangerous path. I will not let the anorexia cause my death, lead me to a wheelchair, wound my family and friends. It is difficult, close to impossible however, when I come to this conclusion, do what I need to do and it does not pay off. It just means I have to eat more, which is never easy, but it has to be done. As my dear friend pointed out, many people would love to be in my position, eating ice-cream, hot chocolate, constant carbs and losing weight, but not me, because I am not allowed to lose any more weight. The more I lose, the closer I get to being sent back to Vincent Square. The thought of ending up as an inpatient once again haunts me, I wake up at night terrified, just at the thought. I am trying to run as far away from that place as I can. As my therapist pointed out I am getting dangerously close once again. My BMI is back below 15, below 15 means critical. It is dangerous, she pointed out, for me to not be in hospital. I was planning to go away, have a break, we were looking at New York, New Zealand, now nothing, I am not allowed to fly, it is too dangerous. I hate that I am back here, being held back by the bitch, even though I am trying. It's just so unfair. All I can do is keep on trying and I will. I am determined to go and see my new little nephews and to beat this.

Can't go over it, can't go under it, have to go through it...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was going to get out again . .There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked, and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.
Lewis Carroll

Like Alice, when you first fall, you give no thought to how the hell you are going to scramble out. The deeper you get, the more difficult it becomes. Sadly, for most, it takes hitting the bottom and realising Wonderland is really not where you want to be. To get out though, you've got to face dietician, Tom, uses the analogy of a forest. On one side of this forest is doom, gloom and destruction i.e, hospital, wheelchair, misery and death (he paints a jolly picture!) On the other side of this forest is everything I want, a family, a good uni degree, a beautiful house, a successful career, to be happy, my friends etc etc (I don't have high expectations AT ALL?!) But...the forest in between looks pretty damn scary. It's dark and thick with trees and I cannot see what's ahead. It seems easier to stay on the side of the forest I am (doom gloom and destruction), because doom gloom and destruction looks ok at the moment, (it's all painted pretty and pink or something, I don't know, but it's disguised). So, i've got a choice, either I venture into the dark and scary forest, which i'm pretty sure is full of huge scary grizzly bears, ready to eat me, or I stay put and just hope for the best. Recovery is starting through the forest, venturing through Wonderland, and facing my fears. It seems terrifying, every step, every bite, I am on edge, what will I have to face? Tom says there aren't really any bears, I just think there are, I am not convinced. Anorexia is peculiar. It manages to convince you that if you eat and gain weight, you will be in great danger, that you will die, so you become terrified of food. The reality is this fear of food it what is going to kill you. Just like eating will not kill me, neither will the bears. And anyway, Tom says if there are any bears, he'll be in the forest with a huge shotgun, nice to know my dietician's got my back!
So, I have taken my first few steps into the forest after realising Wonderland is not quite as rosy as it looked. I am still pretty on edge, looking over my shoulder at every little sound I hear. I am lucky though, because i've got my friends and family to drag me through the dark scary place, and I know they will take on any bears. The only problem is, i've entered the forest and the other side has got bloody further away. I've been eating what feels like monstrous amounts to me. Piling in the porridge, potatoes, noodles, I have even been eating chocolate fingers (i've gotta admit, although I was pretty convinced the chocolate fingers would kill me and were plotting against me, they're pretty damn delicious). So, after all this fear facing, after donning my ninja gear and taking down the bears, wolves, whatever the hell the anorexic bitch puts in my path I jump on the scales, absolutely quaking in my boots that I am going to be the 50 ton woman and low and behold...I HAVE LOST WEIGHT. The physically impossible has happened. I literally see mum slump and I cannot believe it. "You're gonna need more" Tom says. So more there was. More chocolate fingers, more potatoes, more porridge, more milky coffees, hell, i've even had white hot chocolates and chocolate mousse. So, what next?! Tomorrow I will find out. Yet again, I am terrified. I am dreading getting on the scales and seeing some monstrous number (i.e a HUGE grizzly bear with fangs and sharp claws...that can also breathe fire), but hey, i've just got to remember, the grizzly bear is actually pretty cute and cuddly, if you just give it a chance. The other side of this forest is bright, and i've got to keep going. If not for me, then for everyone I care about.
I remember, as a child I used to love the book "we're going on a bear hunt", it had a pretty good line- "We can't go over it, we can't go under it, we can't go round it...OH NO! We'll have to go through it!" Sadly, recovery is the same, I just wish there were some way to get round it.
I will update tomorrow after the weigh in and such. One step closer to that other side...

I'd also like to say thank you so so much to those who have offered to sponsor me for the 'pound for a pound' idea. It means so much to have your support, I visualise the good I can do if I get to my target weight before I get on the scales and it really helps keep me a little calmer. If you would like to pledge, even if you can only spare a penny a pound, please email me on ''. Not a conventional sponsorship idea, I know, but it truly is going to two amazing charities (see below).

Thanks again,

p.s. Sorry for not writing for SO long. I have had an astounding amount of uni work, so have been running around like a headless chicken all Easter getting it sorted!

New Day

Thursday, 5 April 2012

So, day one of the new regime and I had my weekly dietician appointment today. The day started with discussing the 'pound for a pound' idea with T (my dietician), he was positive about it, so i've decided to go ahead with it all. There are two charities i'm keen to split all money raised between. One is 'The Succeed Foundation'-a fantastic eating disorder charity which is just finding its feet and I really think will do some amazing work! I'd also like to donate to 'The Rape Crisis-Cape town trust'. A child is raped in South Africa every three minutes, and aids continues to spread with epidemic ferocity. Young women are more likely to be victims of rape, or contract HIV than complete elementary education. These statistics are harrowing to say the least. My father was a freedom fighter in South Africa and came to the UK to seek asylum after the murder of one of his close friends whilst in detainment led him to realise he could be next, once apartheid was lifted in 1994 he had a choice to make, whether to uproot us all to go into the new politics of South Africa, or to stay in the UK. He went back to use his fiercely fought for vote, however, decided that South Africa, as it was, was not somewhere he wanted to take his family. I have completed not only my elementary education, but also completed senior school and have now gone on to university. I was struck on my last visit to South Africa how hugely different my life would have been, and I want to do something to help those who were less fortunate than me. The Rape Crisis Cape Town trust works with people throughout South Africa who have been victims of rape. It is a ridiculously worthwhile cause, so any support would be appreciated.

What to do?

Right, well, at my weigh in today it was not the greatest news, i'd dropped back down to 38.5kg. (Just shy of 85pounds, or 6stone 1 pound). Tom said this should act as even more motivation, for the past couple of weeks, i've been losing at a rate of a kilo a week, he pointed out that keep on going, and i've got about 2 weeks before i'm back in hospital with no choice about it. He also said such massive drops have put my heart at considerable risk, as well as my other vital organs. All the more reason to keep on going. So, I need to get from 85 pounds, to 103 pounds (at least). That's 18 pounds to gain. If you would like to pledge to the 'Pound for a pound' idea, please email me on, stating how much you'd like to give for each pound I gain, or pledge on Facebook. Once i've got to my target weight, I will start rounding up the money. Alternatively, I'll have a sponsorship form on me, so if you see me, just sign up. To get from 75pounds, of this 85 has taken me about 10 months, so I really need to get this show on the road. I don't plan for these next 18 to take up all that time!
Will keep you posted on my progress, started the day well with the news of my two beautiful new nephews Louis and Charlie and a bowl of porridge. On the up!

New Leaf

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I've been 'in recovery' for almost a year now, I realised depressingly and God, has it been a tricky one? I felt teary looking back at photos of myself from before I went travelling. Admittedly, I was not in a healthy place then, but I was doing a hell of a lot better than I am now. The most noticable difference is how much happier I look, out with friends, drinking, out for dinner, all things I find incredibly difficult now. I have been looking forward to Easter for weeks, countingdown the days until myfriends were home, indescripably excited about catching up with the girls,but then it came, and I was terrified. Anorexia has made me find it almost impossible to go out like I usedto love to. Why?
Because i'm so scared people will think 'Maya's gained weight' and because i'm dreading that line 'oh, you look well',
loosely translated into anorexic speak 'you've got fat'. It's ridiculous, being told you're looking more attractive, prettier, more alive, more colour to your face, all of these things give the anorexia ammunition, make it whisper 'I told you so' and gently drag you down again. Ironic, as I want so so much to be better, but being told I look better sends me in to a spiral of despair. I think its because I don't feel better, I still feel pretty low, ugly and like I can't really eat properly, so being told I look better is tricky when I know I am no where near it. So, toavoid this, i've hidden myself away, barely seen anyone so far and felt constant guilt and sadness over missing my friends. My friends are my armour against this daemon, they have been there to bash and batter the bitch whenever they can, in my saddest moments, looking at the photos which cover my walls, of once happier days with J, Grace, Hollie, Thea, Jess, Liv, Jo, Ro, Tay, Sophie, Heidi, Mouse, Em, Tula, Lou, Issy, (I could go on), has kept me strong, has made me remember why I must keep on going, because I truly was happier when I ate. On the phone to J last night I realised how sick of it all I am. It's not fair that if he doesn't hear from me for a couple of hours, my poor man is in a total panic that i've collapsed or worse. It's not fair that I've barely seen my friends. It's not fair that my family are constantly worrying, and it's not fair to abuse my body the way I have. So, I decided something, and by posting it on here, i've got to do it I guess. I am going to eat. I am going to banish this bitch and I am going to gain my weight. I'm on a downward
spiral again, restricting and losing weight, and you know what? It's not making me happy, it's making me a miserable recluse, so i'm giving anorexia the finger and starting a new regime as of my appointment on Thursday with my
dietician. I'm going to go in with a plan of food for the week, if he ok's it all, that is what I shall eat. I wish I could say that now i've made this resolution and decision, it'll be easy, but I know it won't. It's gonna be a bloody mountain to climb, but at the moment, i'm just living with this disease, and it's not doing anyone any good. So, what do I need to get to?When I came back from traveling, I was about 42kg (I think)-about 6 stone 8 pounds...that's the first photo in the purple.

At this weight I was TERRIFIED people would think i'd got fat whilst I was away, but it's not enough for me to be healthy.
In a matter of weeks, I dropped down to the second photo(orange shorts), about 37Kg (5stone 11pounds). I
remember being
unhappy with this photo as I thought my hips looked huge. It took me about a month before I was hospitalised at 34kg (5 stone 5 pounds), skeletal.
In Vincent square, I managed to get my weight up to about 37.5kg again. I was discharged about 8 months ago. I am now somewhere between 39 and 40kg and honestly I feel huge. I need to get to at least 47kg, which to me sounds absolutely terrifying. It's about 7 stone 5 pounds and would give me a bmi of 18.5. A bmi of 20 is healthy for most, but due to my small frame, I might be ok at 18.5 apparently. The sign is getting a period again (sorry if that's tmi for some). I think that is about the photo on the left, (in a bikini in Spain),
maybe a little less. That seems so so daunting, but if I
want to get better I just have to do it.

I have been much heavier than this in the past, over 8 stone, that's the next photo. It strikes me how happy I look here.
I was bloody terrified about going out so skimpily clad, everything was on show, every lump and bump emphasised by the tight gold lame. There was no getting away from my despised bulbous hips, the chubby bits at the top of my legs, even my bingo wings. I saw all of this when I scrutinised my appearance in the mirror. Although many would argue that none of that is present, that's not the point really...the point is I felt it, chubby
and mis-
erable about many different things. I suppose I was just a hell of a lot better at putting on a brave face than I am now, and because I looked ok, and like everything was fine, people thought it was. Yes, things were far far better then than they are now, I ate, but the extent of my self loathing at times was still terrifying. Anorexia simply portrays that...when the words wouldn't come, I starved myself, and that said it all for me. Recovery is not only about the weight gain (I wish it were that simple), in order to recover I must gain the weight AND learn not to resort to starvation at every bump, twist and pot hole in the road. I must learn to ask for help to get over these obstacles when I meet them. I must believe I am worth looking after, and nourishment. That is part of the reason I find it so difficult to gain weight, to be told 'you're looking well', because most of the time, i'm not feeling all that well. Yes, things are getting better. I laugh again for one thing, properly, and Jacob has been ecstatic over my smile coming back, 'my real smile.' My tummy still feels bloated though and every meal is a battle. I've got to just realise though, as far as we know, we only get one chance at life, so why spend it miserable, in and out of hospital and eventually inevitably dying young? There are so many things I want to achieve in my life, I want to run the marathon, I want to have children, I would love to have my own bakery, I want to raise a fuck load of money for various charities, I could go on, but you get the picture...I can't do any of this as I am now and I am sick of it. So it begins...again. I've been searching for ideas of how to help me on the internet, and found one which struck me 'a pound for a pound', a sponsored weight gain. Seemed like a pretty good idea to me, but i'm not sure anyone would actually sponsor me to eat! Might just think, pull yourself together you idiot, it's not like you're jumping out of a plane, or climbing kilimanjaro. To me, every bite is jumping out of a plane free fall, I don't know what will happen, or where I will end up, i've just got to trust everyone around me and face my fears and hope to God my parachute's working.
I will post my weeks food plan on here later, for now, I will prepare for battle x

Knowledge is power

Sunday, 25 March 2012

As part of my course at uni, i've been doing a lot of research into the way we are influenced regarding body image, particularly focusing on women. The project has led me to some terrifying statistics; up to 69% of female uni students will experience episodes of bulimia at some point, by the age of 13, 60% of young girls have begun to diet (Sternhell). These figures seemed to me at first glance unbelievable, so I cast my thoughts back to me, at the age of 13. I was weight conscious and attempting to diet, however, I cannot exactly use myself as an example of a 'typical' woman when it comes to relationship with food. I was most certainly not the only one worried about their weight though, many girls I was at school with expressed concerns over their bodies. I remember vividly standing in the selfridges changing rooms with my bean pole of a best friend, both of us agonizing over our hips. We found solace and comfort in the fact that we were both preoccupied with the same body worries. Why? What drives to worry, regardless of age, or sex? Although most do not take it to the eating disorder extreme, weight preoccupation is clearly a prevalent issue in our society. Many blame the media, the size zero models parading down the catwalk, the cover of heat magazine supporting a statement about yet another celelbs weight, the fad diets. To an extent, this is fair. Being thin is glorified and praised, sometimes disgustingly so. During my first hospital admission, I was granted weekend leave. Mum and I decided to go shopping and for a drink. We were in Knightsbridge when I was approached not once, but twice, by people questioning me about if i'd ever considered modeling. Both stated I had the perfect figure. I am 5 foot 2, not model material. I was approached because of my weight. Even remembering it makes my skin crawl, I was a walking skeleton, wandering around the shops with people staring and nudging each other. I had lost all the color from my face and every rib was prominent. I did not smile. After being cooped up in my unit for the past week, with only a few hours contact with anyone but medical staff and other anorexics, the amount of people milling about in Harvey Nichols was daunting. I was terrified to try on any clothes, scared after my mere week of re-feeding and my weight gain of just over a kilo, nothing would fit. I was the furthest from beautiful anyone could be. These people were not interested in attractive people modeling their products, they wanted a clothes hanger. "You are a real size zero!" one of them had said, "great". Size zero at this point was too big for me. It was not beautiful, it was not aspirational, yet these people thought it would sell products. Sick. There has been so much talk about things changing in the industry, about size zeros not being used...I think I proved this is not the case. My illness and wasting was being praised. I'm pretty sure if my mother had been in possesion of a gun at the time, Harvey Nicks would still be scrubbing blood off the walls.
We cannot simply blame the media for the influx of eating disorders in the Western World and weight conscious ten year olds. Yes, they do not help, but I did not starve myself to look beautiful. I would like to make that clear. I'm pretty sure not one of the girls I was in hospital with thought their bones were beautiful, or were striving to look like a catwalk model. Eating disorders and self starvation have been around for a lot longer than Victoria Beckham or Paris Hilton, they were not understood or recognised as they are today, but their is evidence throughout history of women (predominantly) starving themselves. In the 12th and 13th century there was a phenomenom called 'the holy anorexia', women starving themselves in order to show total devotion to God. This was praised and glorified. In the 16th century fasting women were condemned as witches and burned at the stake (and I thought inpatient treatment was bad!) Clearly we cannot simply blame the media and the size zero phenomenom for the skinny trend, however, there is no escaping the fact that it has increased the pressure for men and women to look a certain (unrealistic) way.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Three days ago, it was my darling Hollie's birthday. It has become a tradition to me, as well as (I think) to my friends, that a birthday, means Maya bakes a cake or cupcakes. Hollie was back from Brighton, so I set to work. I chose red velvets. I bake so much, it's got to the stage where I don't even have to measure out half the ingredients, knowing by instinct. I mixed, sieved, creamed together all the ingredients in my new kitchen aid (my Christmas present, i've desperately wanted one for years). The mixture was perfectly red, I spooned it out into the cupcake cases. When they were done, I carefully piped my icing on to them. Sprinkled over my edible glitter. Perched Hollie related things on top. I lay them out and just looked at them. Then I cried. I cried because I had no idea if any of it tasted good. I can't taste as I cook as I used to. I cried because I knew I couldn't sit with Hollie and enjoy them. I cried because I couldn't take her out for dinner as we always used to on birthdays. And I cried because we couldn't toast the day with her family and cocktails, as we always would. Anorexia has stolen all of that. The cupcakes in front of me were my feeble attempt to achieve some sense of birthday for Hollie, although it was all wrong. I could not even celebrate on of my best friend's birthday's properly. Only give her the material to celebrate with others. It completely baffles me. I hate anorexia more than anything in this World. It is abhorrent, foul and destructive, yet I cannot fully rid myself of it. Still I look in the mirror and cry over what I see. A swollen stomach, the curve of my hips, my padded thighs and it is then, when I am feeling weak and demoralized, that it again curls itself around me, cooing that it knows how to make things better. Every time I am upset, every time I am stressed, every time something goes wrong, it is there, whispering that it knows the solution. "You will feel better if you don't eat". I know this is a lie. It used to feel so good to sit and enjoy meals with my friends and family. Eating should be a joy, and I am terrified I will never properly have this pleasure again. That anorexia will stay on my shoulder, that even if I get enough control to eat properly again, it will always be there, telling me I am greedy, weak and a fool. Creating guilt with every mouthful. I am determined that I will enjoy food again. That it will be a pleasure, and not a struggle. A lovely friend showed me this video, we are both fighting and she knew I would love it. I've got to say, i'm not so sure of the way they have recorded it, but the writing and message is poignant and true.
I will write again properly soon! Time to get on with some work!

The dangerous road...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I feel I need to explain slightly how I got in this state. I must emphasise that anorexia is not something which just sneaks up on you overnight. I did not wake up one morning unable to eat. It got hold slowly, festering and growing over years. Whilst talking to my brother this morning, he shared a memory of me, at about the age of 12. We were sitting down for a meal together at my grandma's house. This was a rarity, due to the fact that my family is a hive of business, with everyone bustling around for most of the day. For this reason, I was used to eating alone and feeding myself, and I was fine with that. I was around the age when girls start to store a little bit of baby fat, just before you begin to develop a more womanly figure and usually have a growth spurt (at 5 foot 2, I am not convinced I ever had a growth spurt). The noticeable development of a little tummy was not something I was at all happy with though. I'd been far more conscious of what I was eating, beginning to secretly miss out meals. I wasn't a great dieter though, I'd cut out breakfast, and often lunch, but I'd be so ravenous by the time I'd got home, I'd head straight for the cupboard to scavenge a snack. Still, it is now clear to me that a little seed had been planted, and the venomous plant was beginning to grow, getting ready to wrap its venomous tentacle's completely around me, and squeeze all the life it could out. Jonny remembered me being visibly very on edge prior to the meal, one of my grandma's incredible roast dinners. Throughout my life, these delicious creations had been a wonderful treat, which I'd look forward to our whole car journey up to Yorkshire. It was a tradition which had been strong for as long as I could remember. Now, however, I was nervous. Pushing the little food i'd taken around my plate. My miniscule portion was commented on, at which point I burst: "I'm fat, look at me, I'm fat", I began to cry. They all soothed me, talking about development and explaining I needed food if I wanted to be more womanly. I suppose to many, it would have seemed a normal occurrence, little girl being worried about a slight increase in weight. Jonny, however, said he began to worry then. I am not saying, by any means, that all little girls who express discomfort with their bodies will develop anorexia, what I am trying to explain is that warning signs will be prevalent and that people should be aware of them in themselves and others, because the sooner the problem is caught, I believe, the easier it is to break from it's evil clutches. It is difficult, however, to differentiate between anorexia and simple body consciousness. And even when this distinction has been made, what to do is not often clear. I had many, many people approach me over the past couple of years, expressing their concerns. I wish, so desperately, I'd listened to them. Instead, I denied it convincingly. "the weight's just falling off me, it's really strange". "I know I've got too skinny, I'm trying to gain a bit of weight, I promise". Both were crap. Anorexia heard the words of concern as praise and fed on it, growing stronger. I did not realise how obvious it was to others that something was not right. My boyfriend spoke to me about my eating habits frequently, expressing constant concern over my little frame and weight loss. He often tried to get me to have some of his protein shakes, offering me tastes and bites of his highly nutritious food, knowing I would not have a plate, but getting in the calories wherever he could I now see. He recently told me, that up until I began re-feeding, he had never seen me eat a proper meal, only salad. We have been together 2 years. I remember how ecstatically happy he was after we went for a meal at GBK, I munched on the falafel 'burger', opting for it without bread, with salad instead and no chips. After the meal, we were walking down the road and j gave me a huge cuddle, lifting me off the ground in his embrace. This healthy little meal caused him so much pride. I wish, so so much that I had realised this was the sign of a problem. It took me hitting absolute rock bottom to acknowledge i had an issue. I'd left to go travelling already very skinny and had lost even more weight while I as away. When I stepped off the plane, my dear Hollie was teary, I thought it was just because we hadn't seen each other in so long. Really, she was terrified by my fragility. It took me a few weeks after this to admit what was going on. By this stage, I had lost even more weight. I remember sitting in the car, feeling my seat belt against my jutting pelvic bones. My dad is not the best of drivers, and I was terrified he'd stop suddenly. I did not feel as if my body could take it, as if i'd shatter under the impact. Still, I didn't eat. Then it all came to head. On a night with friends I drank, at this point I was still willing to drink alcohol (something which I now do not allow myself). On an empty stomach and with my miniscule frame, my body simply could not take it. When I stood up, I was ridiculously drunk. Swaying gently. The alcohol had trumped the anorexia and my immaculate control was lost. I ate a brownie when I got home and nibbled on a few prawns, I then got in the shower and from there I do not remember. I woke up in the morning beside myself. I was absolutely hysterical. Terror filled me. I could not stop sobbing. What had I done? I rang J and sobbed down the phone "I ate, I ate" I cried. "I don't know how much". J tried to soothe me, but even his words couldn't heal this pain. After about half an hour, I hung up. I could not stop the pain. Mum was downstairs, but I couldn't even get out of bed. I was shaking horribly, so I rang her. "Mummy, can you come up" I cried. I heard her running. When she came in she moved directly to the end of my bed and sat, holding my hand. Finally I choked "I ate mummy, I ate, and I don't know if I was sick". She rocked me as I broke down. Completely irrational. There was absolutely no calming me. I realised then I needed help. Finally I asked for it. I felt mum sigh a breath of relief. She'd tried dragging me to the doctors and I wouldn't, she needed my acknowledgement, my consent, if anything was going to get better.
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