Weetabix x 2.
Wholemeal toast x 2, butter.
Five-bean salad, jacket potato, margarine, side salad.
Baked lemon tart.
Salmon fishcakes, boiled potatoes, carrots.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
‘Nutri-Grain’ raisin bake bar.
Today has been super, super difficult at meal-times. Dynamics have hugely shifted.
My thoughts have been more intensely self-punishing due to Anorexia being threatened by a new admission yesterday, sending what felt originally like positive move smashing these full-portions head-on to an act feeling full of greed, shame, disgust and embarrassment.
I seemed to power through the first couple of days with the full portions. I guess because I finally now felt less guilty for the other girl who has been in the ‘Stage 1’ dining room with me on our own since she arrived a few days after me – because I was finally completing and we were both now on full-portions together. But yesterday, she got moved to the main dining room, which I was really proud of her for. (read previous post – ‘Intro to things on the Unit’ for more explanation about the dining rooms and how things work)
It’s always intense in the smaller dining room anyway. But it’s now just me and the new admission, who seems a lovely girl, 18. And a couple of staff members. I know I was in her position just a couple of weeks ago… and it must be overwhelming for her at the moment. But at all meals today, she barely touched any of her half-portions; I sensed the staff allow her slightly more time as a way of encouraging her to eat a little more. Which I actually felt was a nice move. But when she was told her time was up, it was just me continuing with my meal, feeling like a woodchopper chomping through my mammoth main followed by full pudding. I completely don’t blame the girl herself at all, but I felt that I didn’t have any choice in the matter. I had committed to this over the NG tube now. I had to stay focused that this was my journey and she had hers to come. However, all Anorexia did was throw a bucket of hate and shame all over my head, that I felt everyone in Yorkshire could see.
My thoughts were convincing me that by continuing to eat/indulge in this food I had no control over, I was declaring to the world that I was deserving. That I was a great person. That I like myself enough to sit and continue to eat when no-one else is eating. I felt like everyone in the room was aware of me tasting the food and could see my tastebuds. So much embarassment. To sit and eat much more than the other girl with Anorexia like I felt she was more deserving than she was – who IS listening to her illness. Who was I to do this? But this is where things really DON’T add up and become very messy indeed…
…because my thoughts about myself are the direct opposite of these things. I would like to learn to feel deserving, to re-build my life and have aspirations and goals so that I can let go and be free of this Eating Disorder. I really would like to learn to do that; I guess that is a major factor of recovery – but the honest truth is that is far from the case right now. And by accepting that plate of food, feeding myself all those flavours (whilst it doesn’t help with the frustration/agitation of still being on ‘bed-rest’ and being wheeled about everywhere) when I am the only one, feels almost like I am ‘disobeying’ some form of royalty and the other girl was listening. It made me feel so small, like a person in rags and shit on their face. And I felt so much guilt for turning away from Anorexia and pretending I was a deserving person. A useless embarrassment who’s too greedy to be pushed about in a wheelchair.
I know I sound such a negative drone, but those were my honest thoughts. Yet the positive was, I STILL followed through with positive behaviour. So despite the distress, I’m still learning to listen and bare, while still do what I’m supposed to do. Meals today, particularly at tea-time, were like clambering my way through a dark room, bashing into furniture and embarrassingly making a clatter and a mess everywhere. It all felt so loud and chaotic, and since being here, my thoughts have been the most punishing because of Anorexia’s evil comparisons of self-worth.
I’ve started wearing an elastic band on my wrist, to stop my leg being restless during ‘rest-periods’ after meals. But it’s not something I have automatically turned to fiddling with. I’ve stopped the leg behaviour which now makes me feel less guilty in case I was affecting others, but for some reason I found the tension creep up in other places. During the lunch rest period, after 10 minutes or so, I heard a staff member approach me to tell me I was nipping the skin on my elbow, that it was creating a small burn mark and to be aware, which I honestly wasn’t. But then I reflected that I think in some subtle way my head was making me punish myself for what just happened in the dining room, yet in some tiny behaviour that seems pathetic. I felt that if I distracted myself with the wordsearch I had on the floor by my feet, or pay attention to the TV, I was accepting that it was okay to eat the meal I just had, to eat more than the other girl, that I was for some reason more deserving to experience taste and pleasure. I felt guilty if I didn’t keep my thoughts focused on how much I’d just eaten. I almost felt like I was sat on the ‘naughty’ step.
A similar thing happened at tea-time during the rest-period, except then it just felt too much, partly because I was aware what was going to happen and repeat itself from lunch-time. With me being left to complete my full-portion, like I was declaring all those things I described. I felt my hand at the side of my face, mainly to hide away from the room, because again I felt so small and ashamed, and Anorexia also couldn’t make me face the other girl out of shame. Until I felt the tension again and I realised I was softly scratching the side of my head out of agitation. I was in a snotty mess but I couldn’t bring myself to accept the offer of staff support because the shame was too much to turn around and I didn’t have the words to verbally communicate how I felt.
Luckily a bit later after tea, I had a 1:1 with one of my named nurses and we kind of partly talked about this. My head feels like it’s going a million miles an hour. Now I’m scared to go into meal times, knowing this is going to happen over and over until something will alter with the other girl’s care-plan. I know the responsibility of how I deal with that situation is down to me and how I choose to react to my thoughts. I think everything feels just so squashed up and intensified at the moment. A combination of now these bigger meal-time feelings, being on eyesight observations and also being on ‘bed-rest’ boundaries. It’s too much.
I’m also scared that because I only have 0.4kg to gain until I’m officially allowed off ‘bed-rest’ – out the wheelchair/allowed to stand, move about the Unit, that I will over-exceed the weight gain needed over the weekend. We don’t get weighed now until Monday. So that means 4 more days of minimal activity despite continuing with these full-portions. And I’m likely to gain that over 1-2 days, so the extra days before the next weigh-day feel embarrassingly unnecessary to be in the wheelchair.
I guess I’ve been scared since day 1 here and now it’s day 18. And I’m still here. So I guess I’m still on the right road to recovery.