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Eating Disorder Diaries – April 29th, 2017

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I have made a large amount of progress in relevance to my physical being. I gained the necessary weight to make me appear healthy, I make it through my meals every single day and have overcome my fears of oil and salt (relatively). But I am not healthy.

Last Wednesday, I had my first appointment for the eating disorder program and it tugged at too many heartstrings that I wasn’t prepared to have touched.

I thought all the work I had left was loving myself, but that’s far from the truth.

I constantly avoided any conversation about weight or food or exercise to protect myself; to not get triggered; to avoid falling into the eating disorder habits because I knew I was one strand from falling apart and returning to the behaviours I had gotten so accustomed to. I knew I was fragile.

I may have been eating, but it didn’t mean I could go grocery shopping without crying or freaking out. I could keep my meal down, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t taking handfuls of laxatives. I could drink juice again, but it didn’t stop me from climbing on and off the scale to make sure that number was correct. I could have oil again, but it didn’t dismiss my ability to swallow a bag of chips in a sitting as punishment for having emotions.

I hadn’t truly realized how fragile I had gotten.

Just talking about weighing myself makes me frantic.

I never had issues in therapy; I was always very open in conversation and was honest about myself, but I never had to face my eating disorder like this. I shrivel up, my lips locked tight, my throat swelling on itself, tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t think this would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but it is. It will be.

I am terrified. I just want recovery.


Eating Disorder Diaries will be a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.

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Understanding Self Harm; What Is It?

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Self-harm is the act of self-mutilation, where an individual purposefully harms themselves in hopes to alleviate stress, emotional pain, trauma, depressive feelings or find control. A large number of self-harmers are approaching or are in adolescence; using these methods to cope with new emotions, mental illnesses and overwhelming situations, though many are adults or progress into adulthood with these maladaptive coping skills. Some self-harm for short periods of time or in crisis, whilst others may become fully addicted or may not know that they are self-harming because the method isn’t widely known.

Self-mutilation is not a suicide attempt; it is a maladaptive coping strategy to find control in out-of-control situations and can be replaced by healthy ones. The individual self-harming is struggling and needs professional help. They may use a combination of self-harming methods.


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Cutting. Cutting is the most well-known self-harming coping mechanism and has been widespread on the internet over the last few years. It is the most heard of the bunch.

Most adolescents turn to cutting to cope with dysfunctional families, bullying, trauma, schooling and overwhelming feelings, though adults do also partake in this method. The act of cutting releases endorphins to the brain to deal with the emotional and physical pain, giving the cutter a high. It’s an exciting rush, followed by a sense of relief from what’s bothering them.

Cutting is often assumed as suicidal behaviour when, in actuality, it’s a very common way people cope with issues. The blood and mutilation factor frightens caregivers who feel they may have to bring their child to the hospital for an attempt, which is not a necessity.

It is important that, if the cutter chooses to continue, they use clean materials and clean their wounds to avoid infection and STD transmittal (as it can be deadly). They must monitor themselves; if they cut too deep, they need to request medical attention, as an excessive loss of blood can kill them.

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Burning. Burning is frequently used in combination with cutting. The individual takes a hot object and holds it to their skin until it cools down and a wound is formed. Some may use hot baths or tap water instead, which may not leave a mark, but is as serious. These burn wounds may bubble up and “pop”, oozing a liquid; it is important for the person self-harming to monitor this wound and ensure bacteria doesn’t contaminate.

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Scratching/Pinching. Someone may choose to scratch at their skin until blood surfaces for a quick sense of relief. This could be an occasional thing, develop into dermatillomania or be dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania (Excoriation Disorder or Skin Picking Disorder) is when the individual has an incessant need to scratch and pick at “imperfections” resulting in worsened bumps, wounds, acne or infection. This disorder can be combated through therapy and extreme efforts, but is not always noticed by the one doing it.

There is a difference between choosing to do it, and having a disorder. Someone with dermatillomania will scratch or pick during anxious or tense situations, but may not notice, while someone who is picking occasionally is constantly doing it on purpose. It must be monitored as the occasional behaviour can evolve into a disorder as they grow unaware of their actions, and lean on picking to cope. It becomes second nature.

Wound Interference. This ties in with dermatillomania and skin picking. The individual repeatedly picks at scabs which result in either blood or scars.

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Hair Pulling. Hair pulling is because of a disorder called trichotillomania; a compulsive desire to pull out ones hair. The puller may notice bald patches from continuous pulling, self-esteem issues, and hair follicle changes (hairs growing in curly, thin or odd colours). Constantly pulling out one’s hair can increase anxiety, and affect their confidence, usually accompanied by depression. They may find flaws in specific hairs and feel that they do not belong, resulting in pulling it out.

Trich falls under the same umbrella as dermatillomania, (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour/BFRB) and is not always intentional. With over exposure to pulling, they become dependent on it and may not notice themselves acting out, and can be so severe that they pull in their sleep.

Photo: © Europen Parliament/P.Naj-Oleari
pietro.naj-oleari@europarl.europa.eu

Drugs/Alcohol. Substance abuse starts off as using drugs and alcohol to cope. Someone may reach for a bottle when they are upset to “lose themselves”. With repetitive use, they will become heavily addicted and full-fledged alcoholics or drug addicts.

Their body will be tolerant of the substance and require higher doses for the same effect, develop a psychological and physical dependency where they may not be able to function without it as their body and mind experience withdrawal, and addiction. Addiction is the compulsive need for the substance and effort required to avoid or reduce usage.

Depending on the substance, risks include:

  • STDs from needles and injectors
  • Irregular heart rate or heart failure
  • Infertility
  • Lung damage
  • Memory loss
  • Periods of psychosis and disconnection from self
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, sweating and shaking
  • Violence
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

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Hitting. Hitting involves violence towards oneself, where the individual hits and punches themselves for relief. This can result in bruises and painful areas.

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Disordered Eating Behaviours. Disordered eating is a common gateway to eating disorders. They feel they have lost control when it comes to food or their body, finding flaws in their figure or eating patterns. There are heavy influences in media and they could turn to Pro Anorexia Websites for tips on weight loss. Disordered eating can be controlled and restrictive (anorexia), strictly healthy foods only (othorexia), use of laxatives and vomiting after binging (bulimia), over eating (binge eating) and other, personalized methods.

This behaviour must be heavily monitored as a traumatic change in diet can remove years off their life, become extreme with no way back or fatal. They must seek out medical attention and learn not to use food to cope. The recovery process is not short and may take years; it’s best to catch and treat it early.


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“Suicide Attempts” (Testing the Grounds). These types of suicidal behaviours are parasuicidal, meaning it is suicidal in its nature, but suicide wasn’t the intent. This is very common with individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as they experience chronic suicidal feelings and use this to cope. They do not wish to die, but to control an out-of-control situation. Facing death but not dying can be satisfying to some.


Remember: Self-harm is used to gain control in out-of-control situations. It isn’t use to get back at or punish anybody.

Self-mutilation should be avoided, discouraged and discussed in therapy. Overcoming self-harm will take time, but can be done when trauma, pain and other factors are discussed, and healthier coping mechanisms are implemented. When an urge arises, they should consider journaling, going for a walk, drawing, calling a friend, etc. Constant denial to these urges will improve their quality of life, as they ween off of their need.

Relapse is inevitable, but self-mutilation can be conquered.

If you are a worried guardian or friend, do not demean them. It may not seem logical to you, but it is necessary you open the conversation, lend an ear once in a while, and tell them that it is acceptable to talk about self-harm. If you use it against them, they will lean on the behaviour more, and could hurt themselves further. Don’t overreact, don’t under react. Finding a balance can be complicated, but worth it. They are dealing with a serious problem and need your support.

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How I’m Defeating Borderline Personality Disorder

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I’ve had a good run with Borderline Personality Disorder, ever since I was diagnosed at fourteen, after a serious suicide attempt. It’s been over four years, and my emotions have seen the full spectrum. I’ve fallen into some of the worst coping behaviours, almost lost my life over a dozen times, but I never fully gave up. I’ve been in and out of treatments; centers, hospitals, seeing psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, group therapy, etc. I’ve seen practically all treatment options, and nothing has worked as well as this…

My current recovery method does include therapy and sleeping medication, but it isn’t the reason I am doing so well.

No pill will cure Borderline (though they help regulate moods), and doctors have been clear with the majority of us that that is the case. We are responsible for our recovery; it’s about routine and combating our destructive behaviours.


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Admitting to a Problem and Deciding to Recover. You can’t recover without the initial decision to.

I made the decision in June 2016 that I wanted to recover. I was DONE with BPD. I was exhausted with self harm and trying to manipulate people to stay, even if they didn’t want to. I was tired of trying to control things I couldn’t control. I accepted my condition and wanted to change it. I didn’t want to suffer every single day anymore.

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Attending DBT. The main form of therapy provided in mental health institutions is usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which challenges negative thoughts to alter behaviour, treating mood disorders. It is helpful but won’t cure BPD.

Dialectic Behavioural Therapy (DBT) was designed for people with Borderline by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 80s. This form teaches individuals to cope with emotion regulation and trauma, rather than reducing crises. Someone with BPD could be in crises daily, and it’s more beneficial to teach them healthy coping mechanisms to use during these crises.

I attended the Out Of Control Group near my town, using the Out Of Control DBT-CBT Workbook, which works wonders. It won’t help if you don’t dedicate yourself to it. Some weeks will be very hard because the book takes a blunt approach, and touches on sensitive topics, but you can’t quit. Stay persistent.

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Stop Self-Harming. No cutting. No pill popping. No alcohol. No burning. No disordered eating. Etc. You can’t recover while hurting yourself, even if your mind is in the right place.

I’m still working on this. I’ve gone over four years addicted to cutting, and I’ve greatly reduced it with a few slip ups. My blades have been taken away from me and it has improved my mental health, though I still crave it. My disordered eating hops in every once in a while but, I can distract my mind if I remind myself that being skinny and starving myself is only going to get in the way of my goals, not help reach them. I’ve used drugs and alcohol, and other techniques, but they don’t help. And I can get through a craving with that reminder.

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Hobbies and Meet Ups. A good portion of our lack of confidence is our inability to see what we are capable of. By starting a hobby, we use our natural talent and grow it into something more profound. If you incorporate local meet ups, other people can encourage you.

(Find out why it’s good to be involved in local groups/clubs here)

I attend a writer’s group every second week, and it encourages me to keep writing. They provide feedback and opinions, which will only further me in my writing career.

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Little Goals. Make goals for yourself every day. Take a walk, cook a meal, do a puzzle, etc. Little goals give you a sense of accomplishment, and can remind you of your capabilities. You suddenly notice that the person who wasn’t able to get out of bed can now go for a run, or go to social gatherings. It’s about reinforcing a routine and teaching yourself that you can function.

I ensure to keep hygiene regular, take in account my mood for every day, work on my writing, and work on myself individually.

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BIG GOALS. Eventually, your little goals can feed into a big goal. It will seem impossible to reach at first, but it is very likely, and attainable. every day, you make a little goal to work on it, and in no time, it will be done.

I recently completed my first draft to my first ever novel; a goal I never thought I would reach. With persistence, I finished that first draft in four months. My upcoming big goal is finishing the chapter edits and getting that out to my Beta Readers.

(If you’re interested in being a Beta Reader for this novel, read about it here and complete the application)


My quality of life has vastly improved. I’m attending weekly therapy, I’ve applied for disability, I’m in the midst of a job application, and I finished the first draft of my book. My almost dead relationship is currently blossoming healthily. I am gaining weight, and I understand that I am healthy and that it’s natural; cutting a meal because of a pound gained is illogical. The hair on my head is growing after my trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) spiked in August. My hygiene is better, I’m taking sleep medication, I’m doing puzzles, I’m accepting time away from my boyfriend, I’m working on my book every day (even if it’s for five minutes) and I’m genuinely happy.

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I never thought that I would get here; happy. I’m not living in the best place with the best conditions, but I make the most of every single day, and I’m thankful for what I have. Being happy and healthy is more important to me than wasting my life with Borderline. I will always have it; I will always struggle, but I will always fight. 

Thank you to those who supported me through this writing process, and who have supported my blog. I hope I bring you joy and inspire you to reach for recovery, just as I have. All together, we can overcome Borderline Personality Disorder, and embrace what it has made of us.