I wrote the following a little while ago (and finished it today). It feels like the very distant past now, but it is necessary to publish in order for my upcoming post to make sense. This was written around four weeks ago…
Today was my second visit to hospital within three weeks, as a direct result of anorexia. Despite the fact that I wasn’t admitted for more than one day, my experience which led me to being in there was far scarier than the one I had which led me to my first trip.
I really fucked up this time. I know for sure I would have lost my life today If I had not been taken to the hospital soon enough.
Again, I have been feeling increasingly unwell for the past week, with the old and familiar symptoms creeping back in, and growing steadily weaker, day by day. I couldn’t make sense of this at first, as I have been eating a little more lately, maybe twice a week as opposed to- at one stage- eating less than once a fortnight. Still, those of us whom are educated about the subject of anorexia know that it is dehydration that kills us, and not necessarily malnutrition which had landed me in hospital the first time.
I have never felt so awful as I did this afternoon. I had been pretty unwell yesterday, and then woke up a lot during the night feeling very cold, which happens to me often. I had only been awake for one hour this morning before things started kicking off with my body. It is always the struggle to breathe that sets off these episodes, followed by blurred vision and- eventually- the inability to see or open my eyes at all. I will be ice cold, despite multiple layers and blankets (today I had my winter coat on in bed). Soon after my temperature rockets. Now, I have to mention that, most days when this sort of thing happens, the symptoms pass after two or three hours, and aren’t at all as extreme as they were today.
I had to sit up as I felt I was going to be sick (which I was, a little, but mostly I was violently dry heaving because there was nothing in my stomach to come up). But as I sat up and opened my eyes the room was spinning which made me feel worse, to the point where my head started spinning in circles and I was sure I was going to pass out, which I almost did, into my plastic sick bag (I can only guess that this would have potentially been fatal). For what felt like forever I tried and tried to hold my head up and out of the bag, but I was so weak it felt impossible.
Ironically, my boyfriend had left the room and gone downstairs right before things got really bad, and I feared something terrible would happen to me due to my shakes and sweating and my pulse racing one minute, and then I could barely feel it the next. By the time he got back upstairs I was willing to call an ambulance, I knew that it was bad enough this time. But he insisted we saved the drama and somehow get me to move so that his mum could drive us to the hospital (and I was very grateful for that). Things were a total mad rush then as I obviously had to get there very quickly, but I tried my best to remember the things I forgot last time which had then landed me having no money to get home or having any tobacco to ease the stress of the situation.
It was a total nightmare getting me out of bed, out of the room and especially down the stairs. I had to take my plastic bag as the movement made me heave even more. Jules had to carry me all the way to the car. I am very lucky we didn’t fall down the stairs, despite me desperately holding onto Jules, but more than anything I feared I would pass out and fall, taking him with me.
But we eventually made it to A+E, me looking as lifeless as the last time I walked (or rather wheeled) in there. I was very surprised at how long it took them to see me this time considering how obvious it was I was in such a bad way.
The consultant assigned to me was not a very nice man. He decided to assume that what had happened to me today was the result of a panic attack. I am SO sick of doctors blaming everything that ever happens with my health down to me having bipolar. And so I got quite confrontational; I asked him how unlikely it would be that I had an endless amount of ‘panic attacks’ over the last few months (while I have been starving myself), and that I’d had them all lying in my bed, randomly, with nothing at all to be panicking about at the time. He didn’t have a lot to say about that, only that he was sending a psychiatrist to see me and that they would decide. As if the word of my own psychiatrist isn’t enough; as his assessment has always from the beginning been that my eating disorder and all of its effects on my mind and body have nothing to do with me having bipolar; that my eating disorder is an entirely separate diagnosis.
I was put on a drip which lasted for about three hours. Jules had to leave me after an hour to go back and get some things done. So I just lay alone in the bed, wondering how it was I wound up there all over again. Drama seems to be the story of my life these days.
An overnight stay was mentioned, but I was insistent that I needed to be back to go into the eating disorders unit a few days later.
As the doctor had it in his stubborn head that I had had a panic attack, when Jules tried to speak to him about my persistent breathing difficulties he- of course- insisted this issue, too, was not as a result of the starvation. Fortunately he said he would order a chest X-Ray ‘just in case’ there was an underlying problem, although still maintained that he strongly doubted it.
I had the chest X-Ray, and an hour or so later he came back to me with some news I would never in my life have imagined would be broken to me. He told me that my lungs are inflamed and my ribcage is sitting improperly. He said this so casually and did not offer any explanation of how it came to be the case or what they might do to help. The only other thing he said is that smoking will worsen it, and that if I continue to smoke I will get COPD (which begins with inflammation of the lungs and killed my grandfather). That was it. He threw that at me and left.
This was very stressful for me, and having to hear that on my own was not the easiest situation, and so- naturally- my immediate reaction was to ask the porter to take me out for a cigarette! It isn’t a rational habit, smoking, I can tell you that much. Any amount of pasting scary pictures all over cigarette packets is rarely enough to put one person off. This is not a time in my life where I would even consider giving up, with so much stress, upset and drama, so, sadly, I have to admit that I have not even cut down since that day. In fact I have barely even thought about the news I was given that day. I’m slowly committing suicide with it, but I fear anorexia and depression will kill me much quicker than any of the physical consequences of my smoking habit.
(Note: I write to you now a while after I started this piece, as mentioned in the beginning).
I was discharged from the hospital late that evening. I ate a salad that night. I was so frightened for my life after how I had felt earlier that day I felt the pros of eating a little outweighed the cons, for once.
It wasn’t an easy night. Jules seems to have taken up the permanent habit of being nasty to me, and somehow he often manages to be stupid enough to do that before I eat, or during the meal, making it an unbearable experience (as if it is not hard enough on its own). I thought I was being very brave by feeding myself real food, but I soon regretted it.
There was a moment that afternoon (which earned the title of this post)- when I was very unwell- which I hope will never happen again, not in this lifetime. While I was so desperately trying to keep my head out of the plastic bag, and when- at one point- I realised I could not, that I was just too weak, I heard a voice in my head. It was not my own. Religious people may have called that voice ‘God,’ but I don’t know. It told me to give up. To give into death. ‘Death is peaceful,’ it whispered. ‘No more suffering, no more pain, no more being a burden to others. Only peace.’ And so I did. In that short moment (which lasted no more than a few seconds), I accepted death and made peace with the conclusion of my life. In that moment I realised I couldn’t get away with doing this anymore, and that I could not stop myself. A life involving this level of suffering, for both myself and others, was just not worth living.
Shortly after I heard the voice, Jules walked into the room, picked me up from the bed and took me away.