Gabi - From Wards to Warrior

What stops me from being real?

Ultimately the ruination and rumination that came when i stepped into anorexia's realms was what stopped me from being real. it took who i was and marled and mottled me. i became  a compulsive liar, not just to those who loved me and cared for me but mainly to myself because i didn't believe they were lies as long as i was forcing my body into the fake perception of a perfect weight that i strived to shrink myself down to. i lied and cheated about anything that threatened my precious weight loss. i secretly exercised wherever i could. i hid food in hankies and told my nan i couldn't come over for roast dinner on a sunday because i had homework or because i was ill or because i was going out with friends. and then i wouldn't go out with friends either because i believed i looked fat and ugly around them and i didn't even want to smell or be near the chips or chocolate they would buy and happily eat without a care in the world. i would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and tip away half of the milk to fill it up with water so that the breakfast my dad was instructed to make me would be less calories. i told my dad i was going out to meet my boyfriend when i was actually going to run rampantly in the woods for hours. i drank litres and litres of liquid from all these bottles i hid in my bedroom before i was weighed so that no one would know. i hid my body under blankets and hoodies that i didn't even like so that no on would see the bones that i couldn't see but knew damn well were there. i didn't talk as my real self. it was all anorexic language. i spoke of and answered for anorexia and anorexia only. my lips were tainted with lies and i was living a whole lie. my dad got down on his hands and knees and begged me one morning before school to just have one bite, just one bite of a cereal bar so that i wouldn't collapse again in school and put more risk to my faltering heart beat. as tears streamed down his face i swore to him that i would eat it on the way and do you now what i did? i let anorexias gnarled fingers which were my own now chuck that cereal bar straight into the bush of someones flower bed the moment i turned a corner down the road that couldn't be seen from the living room windows of where i lived. that was not me. that was not the real me. I've done these things and so many more horrible things. and it was because i allowed anorexia to dictate to me that i had to do this in order to keep that monstrous malady thriving in itself whilst it killed me. every meal missed wasn't missed to anorexia as it made a meal out of my body instead. what stops me from being real? the weight of anorexia. the 4 and a half stone unrealistic, skeletal state that i shrunk myself down to. and the psychological heaviness that I carried the whole time that was only real because i materialised it myself to be so.


How did I break free?

Have I broken free yet? I honestly don't think it 'free'. I think I'm freer. I have times where I feel free. I'm experiencing them so much lately. I've been socialising with people who i never believed would want to me after everything I've put them through or after getting a glimpse of my history is alive only just met them. I've been thriving in the career path I am trying to pave for myself and I've been pursuing passions such as dancing, drama, creative writing, wandering and wondering without solely striving for a step count and calorie burn. I've been trying new foods that would have previously petrified me. I've secured myself a little waitressing job and I'm in school after fifteen months of no education and no interaction with people the same age as me other than those who similarly wanted to just end their lives in the institutions they had been sectioned or forced into. times where i feel untouchable, where I'm so aware that a year before something that has happened like feeling bloated or not looking how i would like to look in the mirror would completely destroy my whole day, and it is these times i feel free now because I notice that it doesn't destroy me anymore. it annoys me. but it doesn't threaten my entire existence and demarcate my day into a delusional delirium of sit-ups and squats and feuds with food served up to me as i get away with any starvation that i can. the little things make me so happy because i didn't realise they were little luxuries until they got taken away, and only realised it even more so when they came rolling back into my life with reality. so i wouldn't say brokEN free. id say it breakING free. every single day in some way or another. and there's so much mentioned and so much more that is helping me to do that.


What would I tell my younger self/my self in those dark moments?

I remember so meticulously what all the dark moments of despair felt like. the depths that i felt i couldn't dig myself out of. that delusion that i deemed as so real even though i knew at the same time was utter nonsense even though my brain was so befuddled that i couldn't think straight. i think that made it worse. knowing i was doing it to myself and that I did actually have power over it. i don't think a word anybody ever said would have made a difference. i had to do it myself. I cant pinpoint the exact time or moment that i did this but sometime in the last twelve months or so i must have just had a stuff it moment and thought that's it. this is not me. this not the life I want to live anymore. I don't want to just breathe. I don't want to just exist. I want to be alive and LIVE. I want to be alive and feel alive. i want to find what ignites my soul and i want my eyes to sparkle like i see in others when they're doing what they love. i want to be authentic. i don't want to live a lie anymore. and slowly it has just got better and better. I've been able to lunge and leap so many leaps of faith that not only i but others were beginning to believe id never make. I'd nearly died three times due to a rapidly faltering heart rate, through collapsing in dangerous places, and also  through intentional overdoses. i cant believe how it used to be compared to now. life really is just getting better and better. so what i would tell myself is to simply hang in there because obviously know now from the future me talking right now that things will blossom beautifully as long as i stay alive to live it from then on. thank god i stayed alive. because there's so much to this life, so much beauty to this world that i never noticed, so many magical moments to meet with new people and memories to materialise and stay in my mind forever. i want to explore this earth!


SO what does being real look like for me?

being real began with my being vulnerable. after six years in and out of psychiatric wards paying this dangerous weight game of relapse and restoration, restoration of weight through force feeding and then relapse back into the rubble and bones that i kept becoming time and time again upon my escape from these places i was discharged from.... after sox years of this chaos and a more corrupt mindset each time i entered the doors to these two prevalent paths, i was finally given the appropriate therapy  i needed which involved a colossal array of different styles and techniques and talking talking talking TRUTH. BUT all in all, to tell the truth, i had to be vulnerable. and allow myself to be vulnerable. hadn't cried in six years, other than the tears of anorexia when i was forced a fudge cake or sedated for running wild in the corridors as my bones crunched and clicked away whilst i withered and wore them away.... i hadn't cried in  six years about anything REAL. and i didn't for a long time. and then one day i talked about my past more than i ever had. not just the stories of anorexia nervosa but the tales of turbulent times throughout my childhood and the tough times and the good times instead ALL things true to me that were so far out of my reach whether they were wonderful or horrible. all the things that made the me before i became mottled by anorexia. I finally became honest with myself and i guess this residue of unfelt feelings that i'd forced down with fingers down my throat or with excessive exercise or with the  heavy hollowing emptiness in my body through starvation. i cried for a good few months. literally someone could just poke me and i would cry and it made me feel pathetic and uncontrollable. but that was the real little girl coming out. the girl crying for all the times she didn't. and i think thats where the real me began? i don't know. it began there and now real to me looks like doing what i truly love and telling others the truth as well as telling myself the truth. real to me is messy hair and messy souls, hearts on sleeves and raw words, fighting for what i believe myself and pushing others to do the same, laughing at my own jokes and laughing in the company of others until i get a sore stomach, crying if I feel like crying, not settling for what doesn't make soul shine and my eyes sparkle, being able to look in the mirror at the real healthy me and not want to tear at my own skin and try to make my soul trespass my bones in this petrifying protrusion of the pieces of my body in order to make a point to myself that i will never prove... real to me is following my gut and intuition which I don't think i ever trusted even before. real to me is not believing the bull shit that is still lingering in my brain that I once believed was real. real is not the withering weight i once was nor is it the well weight I am now. thats not real. we are not defined by numbers nor figures nor shapes or sizes. real is just real. theres no other way to explain it. you only feel it and see it in others. so I guess I just have to share my reality and hope other people will take it on board. 


Gabi's Story


Four years. Four years of inpatients and outpatients, the first admission and the slippery sliding of a wheelchair down the narrow corridors of hell. Four years of mayhem, of watered down soup bowls replaced with piled plates, trembling cutlery and spoonfuls of trepidation, tears blending with fatty tides of milk, spicy havoc, oil greasing my mind and the slippy ground I paced upon, torrential tantrums and white washed walls painted with bloody tomato sauce. The meticulous meal plans and mantra of eat, rest, repeat, the manipulative mayhem, crumb stuffed bras, defiance and devious deceit in the chocolate squares up sneaking sleeves.


Four years dominated by petty numbers, scrutinising tea bag boxes and the back of toothpaste tubes, three times on the scales and three times off, constantly calculating calorie after calorie after insignificant calorie, living by different equations and the same old ridiculed routine, just checking, double checking, figuring figures, rationing macronutrients, quantifying each mouthful and ripping the crust from a slice of bread that was three grams overweight in my angst of becoming that too. The sin of sitting, one hundred star jumps and fifty seven more to be sure, running through the streets like a maniac into the dead of the autumn nights, falling through fall, snowdrifts of confusion throughout winter and alopecia like dead leaves dropping in spring.


Constantly working out, working out the footsteps traipsed and quantifying every movement, dizzying sit ups, ticking timers and endless exercise regimes… The looking glasses and distorted perceptions, a dependency on an airy nothingness, standing at each and every possible angle to get a glimpse of a hollow void of daylight between my thighs. All this time with the same sounds- a keyboard ribcage with no tune, creaking floorboards at 6am, crunching of dry crackers and the clicking of brittle bones, the beep beep beep of hospital wards and the groan of the blood pressure cuff, the drumming beat in between the breathlessness, jingling pockets full of fake weight and the tap tap tapping of the walking calculator I had become.


Four years caught between who I was and who I wanted to be, dismantling my body and erasing it into a blank canvas of sickly paper skin, tinged with the yellow of liver failure, splattered with purple bruises, etchings of red, stained blue on the toes, tips and lips, smudged shades of grey balancing lifeless eyes. With a two word diagnosis came hunger, craving and shrinking, goosebumps like scattered stepping stones on the pathway to hypothermia. Less than ten syllables worth of time wasted on  shivering muscles and aching bottoms, chipped tea cups, ink stained ramblings, fragmented wings and fluttering heartbeats. “No thank you” to haribos rolling off my tongue as swiftly as half the Christmas dinner slipped from my plate that first year… bony cages, ribbed lies and fainting on the bathroom floor, walking on clouds, MyFitnessPal and loss of true friends.


And water water water, empty bottles, filled excuses, eating the egg then treading on egg shells, chew, swallow, quiver, the taste of shame, frozen and ghostly mid summer, never satisfied, “Just a kilogram more to lose”, numbness in escaping a realm of emotions, little ants of energy swimming in the guilt gushing through my bloodstream, scuttling skeletons and skin and bone to health and then back to skin and bone again,  then tip toeing somewhere in between and just dancing on the edge of what could be, taking tiny bites of life and then ruining the taste for myself, letting old habits and persistent notions in through the wounded cracks and allowing them to spill over the surface of some beautiful memories.


A few years ago I hit rock bottom- the foundation now slathered with the conundrums and  fears of recovery that I would begin to rebuild my life onto. But somewhere along the line I must have stopped clambering up and settled for the borderline in between. Because for years I’ve merely been traipsing the alleyways of an unshifting mindset... Wandering a walkway of wretched routine every single day, beginning each morning with tip toes to the mirror where I glare at this control freak that is so tangled in the strings of delusion and messy chaos, a girl whose fire died a little more every time she blew out the candles and refused a slice of cake, a stranger with a scatterbrain who I have lived with for far too long. For some reason someplace I settled once more for carrying the mountains I was supposed to be climbing.


But I refuse to stand stagnant whilst my life drifts by anymore. We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea- and if that, along with some of the incredible experiences I’ve had, isn’t proof of the extraordinary facets the world has to offer then I don’t know what is. I built up a cage out of the barriers of my mind and I’m done with being trapped when the key out is right at my fingertips.


I once reached that size zero, that number, that body that I strived for so much. And it gave me exactly what it is. Nothing. You can’t kill the part of yourself that hates yourself without becoming it.  I sacrificed every piece of the puzzle I am for a peace of mind I never achieved. I fed it all my elements and it indulged in them and starved me into nothing. That’s what me at size 0 was… Nothing. And now that I amount to something it’s time I made use of it. It’s time to stop merely floating by and just existing, and do one of the rarest things known to us humans as we count on the world to keep dishing out endless moments. It’s time to destroy what destroys me- and it’s time to live.


Gabi's "real" poem


You try adding yourself up
Out of all your disdained things

And wonder why you feel heavier
Cascading their weight right onto your wings

It’s because the figures you figure your figure with
Are fallacies so untrue
And of all of the jigsaw pieces you’re verily made of
Let me name just a few

I’ll do this by asking some questions
And Perhaps my queries will just go to paint
The verisimilitude to so many

And then what to you would be crazy and quaint


So have you ever tried counting the raindrops
How many for mascara to melt
Or tallying up salty tears you’ve tasted
From all radiant and ruptured feelings felt

Because I bet when you’re prancing from puddle to puddle
When you're wandering woods or barefoot on the beach
I bet you weren’t ruminating those sugar free sweets on the shelf
And how you’re only allowed one bite of each

You know when you’re living for the moment
And there’s flavours of freedom on your laughing lips
I know then you’re not worrying whether

This type of energy will transpose to your hips

So when you’re putting yourself in a piggy bank
Spending your body pound by pound
Do you ever think of all the little lucky pennies
Picked up on your travels that you’ve found

And coming to the topic of travel
You know the tracks you don't timorously tread
You are these ventures you spontaneously step into
When there's no tip toeing to the tick tock in your head

And what about little luxuries put into your pocket
I bet you don’t add those to your mass
Berries broken from bushes when you’re just wandering the world
Not frozen fearfully on that square piece of glass

Can’t you feel the maps through the bones of your body
To places your head and heart has been
When you don’t just equate yourself to your equator
And don’t grasp glances to get what you glean

Put your button eyes away for just a second
And stop pressing their calculator keys
Now tell me do you see any need to tally
The times a tree branch bounces on the breeze

Tell me if you truly spurn each stretch line
Then why miscount the one on your lips
The length of your smile that unfurls for miles

When you’re not worrying about the width of your hips

When you’re looking in the mirror can you not perceive
That in actuality you’re measuring with your mind
For if I asked you to gauge your flaws on your fingers
You’d be poking skin to which you’ve gone very blind


And don’t you dare tell me you only tasted calories
Don’t tell me it was flavoured with dread
When you were just turned six blowing out birthday candles
And cake wasn’t deemed devilish in your head

Why are you so worked up about what’s in the measuring jug
When there’s a cosmic volume to your soul
Why let these liquid thoughts leak from mind to mirror
Pour untrue perceptions into the shape of your vessel

Segmenting memories into minuscule halves
I don’t glimpse that when you’re feeding your soul
For never have you portioned out on a plate
The moments that make you feel whole

Must you work every element out numerically
Why should symbols stain your worth
When there’s so many incalculable entities
So much more beauty to this earth

Did no one ever say you’re all the books you have read
All your told and untold tales
And did you ever ask yourself how many pages you get through
When you spend a day reading the scales

When you’re dancing through doing what you love
You don’t see the sparkle in your eyes
These grains of glitter that come from your glow within
Specks that you simply couldn’t summise

You attempt adding yourself up
Out of components that should know no amount
And you wonder why this chaos has coalesced
To such a convoluted count

And because I already know the truth
That you will never take up too much space
I don’t expect you to answer my queries
For they are staring me unquestionably in the face

All I will ask of you now is that
You begin believing in the infinity

To all the innumerable beauty in who you already are
And the same one who metamorphoses to finally see