Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The truth about laxative addiction

Most of my friends and family know now about my addiction to laxatives. It was a struggle that I kept secret for years but over time became something I couldn't hide anymore.
Recently someone joked that they'd be intrigued to see what laxatives were like, presuming I take them to lose weight. That's the danger, you initially think you might lose a couple of pounds and then that's that.
The truth with laxatives is you don't lose weight. Pounds may lower on the scales but that's water weight and it will never truly stay off.
My usage of laxatives has grown over the recent years, I don't think it's helpful or healthy to write down that number I take. The world of eating disorders can be even more lethal when numbers come into it.
But, nevertheless, it's grown to the point where it's classed as an addiction by doctors and dieticians, it's grown to the point it's cost me more money than I can even think about, but more importantly it costs me my health.
My health wasn't great before, have an eating disorder and all. But what nobody realises in the early days is that laxatives drain your electrolytes. They literally strip your stomach lining out of you. Your stomach lining that is full of good bacteria and electrolytes that you need to keep your heart steady and your liver healthy.
Electrolytes help with hydration. They rebuild broken parts of you, like cuts and grazes.
Electrolytes ranges from sodium to calcium to potassium.
And laxative abuse will drain them from your insides.
The effects of this then range from dehydration to dizziness to heart palpitafions, and so on.
The reality of a laxative addiction is horrendous. It means being able to physically feel the goodness of electrolytes leave your body and this leaves you dazed, slightly confused at times, your face turns whiter, you're cold but also sweating and then the heart palpitations and the nausea kick in.
People suffer heart palpitations for all sorts of reasons and I've had them before my eating disorder and many times since my laxative abuse, and in a nutshell,
they are horrible.
A tightness in your chest and the feeling that you cannot control your heart beats. Irregular and unnerving and sickly beats.
In the worst case scenarios, laxative abuse leads to sudden seizures or death, because your body can't regulate it's organs, most specifically your heart, liver and your kidneys. So in these worst cases scenarios, your heart just packs in.
I suppose it's the same last dying from a heroin overdose or ecstasy. The drug has made your insides irregular and your heart can't take it.
I've clearly not died due to laxative abuse, unless this is the afterlife? (Actually maybe I'm in hell and that's why I can't break my addiction.)
But back to me being alive, I've had some moments where I've said to myself this is going to kill me.
Many people think taking laxatives just means you shit yourself basically you get bad diahorrea and that's that. Maybe that's how it is if you take a prescribed amount once or twice.
But that is not what chronic laxative abuse is. Chronic laxative abuse is, like I said, all the goodness draining from you and being able to literally feel your heart strain to cope with what you are doing.
It's being tired all the time, feeling sick, not being able to keep any food inside you, dehydration, dizziness, it's being in a foul mood a lot of the time, it's sweating, fainting, horrendous pain, it's total and utter shame over what you've done to your life.
If writing this can steer even one person away from taking laxatives to cope with an eating disorder then I'm not ashamed of my issue and I won't be embarrassed to put these words out there for the world to see.
Starting taking laxatives was the worst decision of my life and you have to believe me when I say it will ruin your life.
It's hard to believe when a packet of laxatives is a couple of quid and so easily accessible, but heroin is easy accessible if you know the right people. 

Monday, 17 September 2018

How do you keep faith whilst fighting mental illness?

How do you keep faith during mental illness? Perhaps this is the million dollar question. From things I have read and things I have experienced, I can only imagine that people both find faith and lose faith when coping with mental illness.
I was brought up a Christian, went to Brownies and church on a Sunday. It was a nice upbringing, I enjoyed learning about Bible stories. I have believed in God for as long as I can remember, it was just part of my mind set I guess.
I’m sure people of all religions have times in their lives when they question their faith in one way or another. I have only had two times in my life where I have really questioned my faith. The first time was when I realised I had feelings towards a girl, but I decided quite quickly that the God I knew loves people for who they are.
The other time of questioning has been over the last two years, when my eating disorder climaxed and took over my everyday life. I believe strongly that there is always someone who is worse off than you, and it is right to be grateful for what we have. I have been lucky in life in many ways and I have always thanked God for that. But there are times when I have to ask why.
It’s 2.30am and I’m lying on the bathroom floor, near crippled from the pain of the tablets I’ve been addicted to for the last five or six years. The voice of my eating disorder is prominent, taunting me for the fact I used to be thinner, I used to weigh less, I’ve let myself put on weight again. The tablets leave me completely dehydrated, I feel the need to wee and the pain in my bladder but nothing happens for hours and hours. There’s something tomorrow I’m meant to do, go to work or go out somewhere – but I know I won’t feel well enough. This is a time when I ask God why, why has this happened to me?
I never ask “why me?” because I’d simply never wish this on someone else instead of me. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. The physical pain and the mental desperation and self-destruction.
There are times when I say how can God be real? If God exists why does He allow this to happen?
I imagine most people with mental illness and faith must question this at one time or another. When you feel the lowest you’ve ever felt, depression grips you, you’re anxious about everything and suicidal thoughts creep into your mind – how can God be there and let this happen?
Is it a test of our strength? This would be the cruellest test.
How do you keep your faith whilst fighting mental illness?

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Can nature be a type of therapy?

One of the most infuriating things about mental illness is that there is no one cure. There's lots of things proven to make people feel better, therapy, medication, even time is sometimes a healer, but there is no one, universal cure.
I want to talk about the impact nature has had upon my mental health, and in specific, gardening. For people who don't know me, I started experiencing depression and struggling with self harm when I was 16. This snowballed somewhat for a few years and in my late teens I developed an eating disorder. Around April-May last year was when my mental health really took it's toll, I dropped out of university, was finally officially diagnosed as anorexic and my life came to a complete stop.
Through anti depressants I eventually found a little bit of solace and I started therapy.
However the thing that really made a difference to me was being outside, being around nature, and eventually when I had more strength I started gardening.
I'm not going to write about numbers or weight, because it isn't helpful to anyone, but at first I was so underweight that I didn't have the physical strength to try gardening, so I would just sit outside and look at the trees and plants.
I especially love sitting outside in the rain. There is something magical about nature because it is not man made. There is something amazing about looking at a tree and acknowledging that that tree was alive long before you were and likely will be long after you are gone. Many times when I was unwell, I would be so caught up in my own mind, my dark thoughts and my pain. I would sit outside and look after at the flowers and trees and I'd think about how these plants would be alive no matter if I wasn't.
Does that make any sense? I don't know but it makes sense in my head.
When you are mentally unwell, you lose your faith in everything.
You lose faith in yourself because your mind tells you you're worthless.
You often lose faith in services because more often than not treatment isn't available, takes so long to access or isn't what you need.
You lose faith in the world and the world becomes black.
Nature helped restore my faith in the world.
We see nature every day but do we really look at it?
When I started to look properly I saw colours I'd never seen before. I started to realise there was beauty in the world that mental illness could never destroy.
When I started gardening, I started to grow vegetables and I continued doing this through the ups and downs of recovery.
I'm no where near fully recovered now, but I'm a healthy weight and I'm able to work again, and nature played a big part in that.
On bad days I go to my allotment and look at the all the vegetables, all these vegetables that I'd grown and nurtured from tiny seeds.
It felt so good to care for something else living when caring for myself was often so difficult.
Being around nature and gardening is not a cure, but it's peaceful, it's grounding and it's reassuring that there are still pure, wholesome things in the world and you can create them.
You can plant flowers and care for them and see them bloom into beautiful things.
When your mind is screaming and racing at a thousand miles an hour, being outside surrounded by plants and trees can ground you. You finally feel able to breathe.
You see there is so much more to life than mental illness, there's so much more in this world than humans.
It's not a cure but it's a type of therapy. It's breathing space, somewhere safe. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

A letter

Dear ED,

You tore me to pieces.
Physically and mentally.
You reduced me to nothing more than a mess of anxiety, sickness and loathing.
I've come quite far in my recovery.
I have the strength to live again, I went back to work and started to rebuild my social life.
You're still here though.
You don't talk to me quite as much as you used to, or maybe you do but I can quieten you better now.
Still you don't let me sleep through the night.
Still nights spent on the bathroom floor.
ED why did you do this to me?
I was my own person and you killed that and made me yours.
I eat better now, three months ago my weight came back up inside the healthy range.
This is both good and bad for me.
My hair stopped falling out and my energy became more again.
I eat more so you laugh at me more.
I disgust you you say.
You used to control all of me, but therapy gave me the power to differentiate between us.
I can be someone without you, I just need to carry on and find my way.
You say you do all of this because it's what's best for me, because you love me you want me to be thin.
You say you know better than anyone.
If you love me then let me rest.
I miss sleeping at night, I want to sleep when the rest of the world sleeps, not half way through the day when I'm too exhausted to stay awake.
Let me rest.
Let me heal.
Let me go.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

When is the right time to end therapy sessions?

When is the right time to end therapy sessions?
Through my teen years I watched Sex and The City and the girls talked about seeing therapists as if it was trendy, as if it was the thing to do.
I started seeing my therapist in October 2017, and seeing her has been beyond helpful in teaching me ways to break my obsessional traits and take back some control from my eating disorder.
When I went to her I was clinically classed as anorexic, lacking in mental stability. I had no concentration, I couldn't care about anything properly.
Since seeing her my weight has gone up to 8 stone. My BMI is now in the healthy range, at the low end but still in the healthy range.
I know she has helped me a lot but I do long to see if I can manage alone.
6-7 months isn't a long time in terms of having therapy, not at all, so I wonder am I ready to try alone?

The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

I have a new respect for life that I didn't have when I was seriously unwell last year. I was ready to let go of life and waiting for my way out.
Now, for the first time in several years, I really want to be alive.
Therapy has given so much back to me.
I am not fully recovered, or even close, but I have gone from 20-25 laxatives daily to 12. And I now have to knowledge to lower that number further.
I have more control now than I've had before with this disorder.
As we strive to destigmatise mental health, I know the thought of having therapy becomes destigmatised too.
Far too many people are afraid to ask for help or ashamed, I was for many years, but therapy has given me a chance at life again.
Whether I do the rest of this journey alone is not important, whether I continue to see my therapist every week or only once a month doesn't matter. What matters is seeing a therapist in the first place probably saved my life.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A love letter to laxatives

I want to sleep.
I want to sleep through the night without being awoken by the pain of laxatives.
Most nights I'm awake five or six times, the pain so horrible that I end up curled up on the bathroom floor.
No position in bed is comfortable, no amount of hot water bottles help.
I want you to leave me alone now.

Saturday, 28 April 2018


My whole life I have loved writing.
I started writing stories and poetry when I was in my early teens, by the time I was sixteen I wanted to be a play write.
Although this wasn't a career I pursued, I never stopped writing.
It always brought peace to my mind.
When I became ill everything changed.
The only thing I knew to write about was being ill. Was my disorder. Was depression.
For a while it helped me to write about it at the beginning of the darkness, it helped me to navigate through it.
From time to time now I still find it a needed release, but I don't want to simply write about being unwell anymore.
I am in recovery, recovery is slow and some days feels impossible.
I want to write about life again.
This time last year, the year before and the year before that, I was quite sure the illness would end my life at some point, so documenting how I felt seemed the right thing to do.
When you are mentally unwell, life loses its colour and the world seems dismal shades of grey and black.
Slowly, as recovery progresses, the colours come back.
I can see colour again, I can see the pink and white blossom on the trees.
I promise myself I will never let an illness take the colours of the earth away from my sight again.
What is life if everything is grey? 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

What should you believe?

Something inside me can't heal.
I force myself to eat the most 'normal' meals I can and with every bite I disgust myself.
Eight years I have had this thing living inside me.
I asked my therapist how can I know whether what my voice tells me is real or not? I have put on a little bit of weight so Beelzebub tries to force me to lose it.
My therapist asked was I happier at 40kg with nothing much left in my life, when I lost friends and my career path.
Maybe I was?
Beelzebub tells me nothing mattered except being the lowest weight possible.
How do you ignore that?
How do you ignore something that lives inside your very soul? 

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Slowly you learn to let yourself eat again,
Maybe you put on a couple of pounds,
Onto that body that was near skin and bones,
It feels like the heaviest weight in the world.
The voices fly round your head,
Fat, big, huge, ugly,
Obese, enormous, disgusting,
You fight, fight, fight again those words.
It is not fat, it is the start of becoming healthy again,
The start of becoming you again.
Remember when you weren't too weak to go to the gym,
Remember when you could enjoy a meal in a restaurant,
Remember when standing up didn't leave you light headed,
When daily life didn't exhaust you.
Remember who you were before this.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


There are more feel good, body confident quotes around than you could count.
There are many amazing recovery stories to inspire you.
There are cold, hard facts about what eating disorders do to people.
There are also the cold, hard facts of what anorexia did to my life. Even referring to myself as anorexic feels like a sham now. I suppose I was, my weight was in the 'anorexic boundaries' and I would restrict and starve. But now it feels like a joke saying it, it feels embarrassing.
My weight now is only a couple of pounds under the recommended 'healthy' weight for someone my height. My bmi is just under the recommended.
But barely.
Putting on weight in the last few months has increased my energy, made me overall 'healthier' but it hasn't helped my thoughts at all.
I'm ashamed of my weight now. Ashamed that I used to be thinner.
I look constantly for something to inspire all of the self hatred and loathing out of me but there's nothing. 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Body shaming

Body shaming really gets me so upset. I struggle so much to see how in 2018 people feel it's alright to criticise others bodies. Whether that criticism is based around being overweight, underweight, or too short, too small, or just a slightly unusual body shape, it's so wrong.
In some aspects of life like science and medicine, humans come along in leaps and bounds. In other aspects, we are quite slow and a little disappointing, like how long it took to legalise same sex marriages. Or how much racism and sexism still exist. Being English it's hard to speak for other countries, and after quite a long time we did legalise same sex marriage and people are be coming more open minded. We do make huge progress within medicine and drug experiments.
We live in a diverse country full of people with different skin colours, different accents and people from many different cultures.
Yet some people can look at someone, who they may have never even spoken to or even seen other than on the internet, and they can find flaws in that person's appearance. They decide there's a part of that person's body they think is ugly.
How can any half decent person do that to somebody else?
How can a stranger think they can decide for you that you have something wrong with your appearance?
Working in mental health has given meme thick skin. I've never cared how many times I get called the C word.
I've been told I'm no good at what I do, I'm selfish, privileged, a bitch. I've been told to jump off a cliff, been called a slag or a whore, and none of it ever really bothered me.
Most people were unwell or angry when they said those things and I'm a forgiving person so I could never be upset or annoyed by it. I understand rage, I understand distress, I understand a build up of feelings that just explodes.
But body shaming someone, calling someone 'anorexic' or 'fat' as an insult if something I can't ever understand.
I will always be biased because of my eating disorder, I know many people throw words around like that and do not feel anything. But when you carry a pain inside you like an eating disorder, it's a burden that will never go.
Body shaming is taking that burden that someone is trying to cope with and displaying it for everyone to see.
It is parading that person's pain and using it as a weapon.
Fuck body shaming.
Living with someone about yourself that you don't like or something you're conscious of is a daily struggle, fuck any lowlife who tries to make you feel worse about it. 
© Time to talk eating disorders . All rights reserved.