DAY #14 FULL PORTIONS & Boxing Gloves at the Buffet…

Weetabix x 2.

Morning snack
Wholemeal toast x 2, butter.

Roast beef, gravy, mashed potato, baby carrots.
Apple and blackcurrant pie and custard.

‘Buffet’ – mini tuna mayo sandwich (wholemeal), mini cream cheese sandwich (wholemeal), chicken drumstick, vegetable spring roll, coleslaw, salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).

Raisins and sultanas.
Quickie update for today. I have actually just been tip-tapping at what has rolled out to be a pretty long post… once I start on one thing, a million other things/thoughts gush through my fingertips… I think it’s the sudden relief and excitement the real me is getting from finally having this opportunity to offload so much disordered thinking that has made me feel ‘crazy’, drifting in my own bubble for so many years.

But it turns out it’s almost 10pm and I’ve still more to add to it, so I’ll upload it tomorrow…

If you’ve been reading my other posts, you’ll know that there has just been me and one other patient in the ‘Stage 1’ dining room. She has been struggling to complete half-portions although is improving day-by-day. I feel so, SO proud of her and she knows this… ! I’ve taken her under my wing, and it’s been frustrating that I haven’t been able to help her more sometimes… but so incredible to see her make progress. There’s lots of reasons I’ve found it helpful to myself to help her – one of them is it helps me focus, another is that I KNOW and BELIEVE she can do it because I felt exactly the same. It makes me angry that those thoughts I can completely relate to are too loud for her to comply with treatment yet. That they’re too loud for her to hand over that control yet and eat what’s on her meal-plan…

…the BIG win today was what was this morning, a ‘dreaded’ buffet. So every three weeks, on a Sunday, instead of the regular meal options, the Unit have a ‘buffet’. As scary as it is, I think it’s such a brilliant way to begin exposure to food that lots of people find difficult with Eating Disorders. The unknown variety of nibbles that you often find at celebrations.

This was the second time I had it here. But the first I knew I had to jump all the way in and would ‘complete’. The first time was back when I was struggling to complete ‘half-portions’ and was still very much attached to my number rules.

At the buffet it involves you picking 2 triangular sarnies from a mixture of flavours – my head ruled out the meat as it felt better for not having too much meat in one day, so was drawn to the tuna mayo, one I was familiar with. It then threw me. The other veggie filling I felt reasonably safe with was the egg mayo, which I asked the nurse if I could have (she was portioning) and then panicked it was on white bread so told her actually I can’t. I’ve challenged a white sandwich once before… why does it not let you persevere? But Anorexia’s argument was – “We know what’s coming yet. You’re pushing the boat out as it is. Wait until we have to pick what’s next…”

Coleslaw, the real me loves – Anorexia sees nifty carrot bits struggling to swim in mayo. but it was on my plate. It was out of this, potato salad or potato wedges. For the next, when the nurse told me to choose a bit of quiche or a chicken drumstick all I could do was stare for a while with a numb mind… as neither option was allowed to my head, it hadn’t been for so, so long… Anorexia couldn’t see any give. Then, shit. I had pastry for lunch pud… that’s quiche off the cards. So, chicken drumstick it was.

Why is it we make weird associations with food? Chicken drumsticks have always reminded me of Henry VIII. Of watching videos in History at school about all the banquets he had, the big appetite tightly dressed in royal clobber. Of KFC which I used to bloody love, but relate to a time when I saw food as comfort and at a time when I felt so quiet, weak, inadequate and socially uncomfortable growing up. I associate this tasty food with all these negative things I felt about myself at the time.

And Anorexia immediately thinks – grease, messy hand food, feels like a greedy cannibal with a bone on the plate.

Me and the other patient talked in the morning about how scared we both were about this particular meal… we’ve been talking a lot more lately, and I have found it so beneficial to my own recovery to try and motivate her and reassure her about the lies of Anorexia. I don’t know if it’s the big sister in me. To help her discover her own motivations, to start thinking about what a future for the real person she is could have and what she really wants. With lots of hugs…

But we BOTH decided we would do it together… (I already knew I was treating this meal-plan now as no-going-back so had that promise to myself set anyway) It was a relief to know the staff had taken control of what I was eating. To treat it as their decision, not mine. That’s something I’ve come to accept recently. It gives my head a break and holds Anorexia back a bit. So I knew I was scared but I knew I had no choice, I’d promised myself.

The other patient, however, I was unsure about whether she would mentally find it in her to push past the thoughts to complete hers. Despite expressing her motivation that we would do this together.

But did she do it? Did I do it? YES WE BLOODY DID. AND she completed her pudding.
It’s the second ever full meal I’ve seen her complete (yesterday being the first) and I wanted to do a giddy jig for how proud I was.

It was quite ironic that we had a buffet for tea… it was the last meal I will have in the ‘Stage 1’ dining room. Almost like a celebratory ending. And a celebration of the other patient’s progress, and all of it I’ve had the pleasure to witness. As much as I struggled with my conflicting thoughts at her not completing her meals at first, I grew to enjoy being there to support her at meal-times – whether it be an arm-rub, a ritual hug beforehand, a motivational pep talk… seeing her come out of her shell and start to gradually trust the recovery process and hopefully trust my advice and reassurance.

It felt like the boxing gloves were well and truly on for both of us. I told her if she keeps it up she’ll be joining us in the main dining room… and that she best hurry up because I’ll miss her familiar company.

My post tomorrow is about my transition into the main dining room. It’s something I started yesterday – with breakfast. Today was lunch too, and from tomorrow it’s all meals. In a weird way I’ve got used to the intensity, safety of the one patient, two staff environment. Especially after 4 long weeks! The main dining room is 15 patients and a few staff and the whole process in there is a little different… aaaagh. That scary old buggar called ‘change’ ey! Like moving from primary to secondary school.

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