Weetabix x 2.
Wholemeal toast x 2, butter.
Bacon chop, boiled potatoes, garden peas.
Summer fruits pie, custard.
Egg mayo sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
Weetabix x 2.
…& the usual pint of milk.
Eighteen whole days; that’s 432 hours my body has been thanking it’s lucky starving stars… ! Everything thankful – my hair, kidneys, ovaries, everything down to the little pinky on my left hand.
Has it turned me into a whale?
2 weeks and 4 days of REAL nutrition sailing on little ships through my bloodstream… carrying the bricks to build back my brain. That’s three proper meals, two puds, two sufficient snacks AND a pint of milk a day… for eighteen whole days.
Can you guess I’m quite shocked at myself?
Meal-planning may well be a mind-boggle as Inspector Anorexia perches on my shoulder. Scanning the inpatient daily menu, yes it still fishes out any potential to choose the ‘safer’ options… but really, nothing’s ‘safe’ by Anorexia’s standards on there. It’s all proper grub. With all the bits and bobs my full self needs and my future self will thrive off – if I keep the train chugging on. (*note to self* – not ‘if’, ‘will’)
Challenging the types of food and the decisions around why I choose certain foods over others, I accept will come later. I know I’m not ‘ready’ for that yet. I’m still trying to repeat this amount of my food to my brain. And hopefully when I’ve put on that morsel amount of grams I need to reach that early target BMI, the psychological work that will start will help me explore and push this…
…I WILL accept that it’s okay to pick foods that I enjoy. I WILL accept that your body knows no ‘perfect’ solution as to what you should eat that day. It just needs an unrestrictive, well-rounded diet. For this it will love you and reward you. And, YES I do accept that it’s an absolute necessity to eat fat. (nope, not even just ‘okay’) And YES the real me knows that’s usually the tasty stuff anyway…
…that includes milk.
So every week we have an ‘inpatient group’, which is an open discussion lead by the patients. We sit in a circle and everyone has the chance to raise any issues they want to talk about… sometimes there’s dead silence. I think sometimes because people have things in mind but feel it will be too awkward to put forward.
It ends up being a lovely, understanding group anyway, maybe because the patients here at the moment are all that way – everyone’s opinions seems to be respected. Like the other week it was explored about how appropriate it was to have food programs on the telly in the lounge straight after meals, during ‘rest periods’. And when, if at all, is an appropriate time… ?
In the last group, one girl mentioned the milk… something that had been allowing my Anorexia to play on the guitar strings too over the past few days.
We all get issued our own pint bottle of milk a day as part of our meal-plan, with our name on a sticker, kept in the communal fridge in the lounge area. Close by the kettle, it’s handy for making drinks whenever we fancy through the day. One of the major perks of this Unit, is that we are free to bring/drink our own drinks – anything except fizzy stuff. Anything caffeinated/sweeteners/squash…
…some patients like to use up most of their milk on their cereal. Others like to pace it through the day in a cuppa. Some like to drink it through a straw how it is, or hot. Some with milkshakes powder or in a hot chocolate.
It may be a perk, but it is for Anorexia too… those first few days I was admitted and on half a pint, I’d come to realise that the milk wasn’t ‘policed’ so strictly. That’s one of the things I genuinely admire about this Unit. Recovery is all down to you taking responsibility of your own actions. To realise, that no-one can choose to recover, ultimately, but you. Rules are in place for a reason, and if you don’t comply then you’re only shooting yourself in the foot.
So in my first few days, when I didn’t realise how close Anorexia was still whispering in my ear, there would be times when the milk simply got swished down the sink. It’s literally a metre above the fridge. It wasn’t even a challenge… or if there were people in the lounge area and that first plan was too obvious, I’d make myself a large cup of tea ‘majoratively’ with milk, which would find it’s way walking down the corridor… to my own sink.
But since ‘full-portions’ began, I stayed true to being driven by my new ‘all-out’ thinking, aiming to honour my green-lidded recovery buddy of a bottle. I’d get through the pint a day and I’d found my own way to get it down. As lots of people who know me will also know well that I love my teas and coffees. You’ll find teabags and coffee sachets strapped to the bottoms of my feet, inside my jackets, in my knicker drawer, in-between my curls…
I’m a hot cuppa junkie.
Before starting my inpatient treatment and still piggy-pagged by my Eating Disorder, I’d discovered a bag of ‘Twinings Vanilla Chai Latte’ teabags in B&M. Looking back, I used to be a scavenger of new hot drinks to try… anything that contained zero or little calories. Like pennies, you could get more for your pound – I could drink more to meet my assigned calorie limit.
Bought them, got them home then realised the instructions tell you to add hot milk. Well there’s the black and yellow tape over that one then. Off limits, off the cards. There’s no way my irrational head any room for those perky milk calories.
Well there was a blessing in disguise…
…deciding to recover, and being prescribed (I’m trying to see it as) this controversial pint of milk, my time had come. To finally unite with a ‘Twinings Vanilla Chai Latte’ – I felt like I’d just turned eighteen again and was offered my first glass of bubbly, fresh from a fancy bottle.
So now I’ve transformed what felt once a fearful bottle of pesky ‘extra’ calories… into a couple of mugs of warming Chai comfort. I feel uplifted to have found something the real part of me connects with, that isn’t governed by any irrational rules. Something that’s totally taste and pleasure-related.
Now I have these beauties to look forward to, not only does it help me complete my daily milk, it also makes the day of food challenges and the obstacle of recovery much more bearable…
…there is certainly a silver lining. So thank you Anorexia, for spotting those teabags. And I’m not sorry that you were hugely disappointed when you realised they weren’t just a match for hot water to make your minor calorie beverage. I now have opened my world and chosen to embrace them for all the flavour they were meant to be… !
Anyway, back to the issue raised at ‘inpatient group’.
As it got towards the evenings, I’d noticed there were still a couple of cow’s-worth of milk in the fridge. Lots of bottles still pretty full. It wasn’t my place to assume, but this started to look like a regular thing, and I was guessing some patients weren’t finishing their daily milk pints, for reasons that were nothing to do with me.
In any case, Anorexia found a way in. It always does. I felt it was fighting me back for going against it with the ‘Twinings’…
…”look, this is evidence that you’re over-eating…
…why didn’t you think of this? (leaving my milk in the fridge like some others)
…no-one has to force-feed you the milk, and staff don’t obviously pay much attention anyway whether you drink it or not so what makes you think you’re so important enough to drink all of yours?
…I told you calorific drinks were in the danger zone, and now you’ve gone and tripped yourself up.
…you’re weaker than the rest of the patients, think now of all the extra calories you’ve been having over the past few days, compared to them?
…think of all those calories of milk added up over all of the days you have been complying? Doesn’t that disgust you?”
And on and on the record played.
As if there was any chance of standing up to this bully?!?! I felt like all of the ‘still accommodated’ milk bottles had gathered in an angry march, to stare me out until the guilt would be enough to make me cry or bleed – either one.
So over the next couple of days I started to leave some of my milk too. Anorexia had taken lead of my brain-script again and I was reminded how wrong and ridiculous it was to think about enjoying a milk Vanilla Chai Latte.
I don’t know when or what is was that fired the recovery umph back in me again, but I started to feel a bit like I was cheating myself. Maybe it was the ‘Constable Perfectionism’ in me, but now I had committed to my Consultant my willingness to now comply with the ‘full-portion’ meal-plan, the real me felt pangs of guilt for not doing things ‘properly’. Not giving things my all.
Choosing to enjoy my couple of Chai Lattes through the day, as pathetic and minor as it may seem, had been a breakthrough for the real me – by finally listening to my own voice. Something that I know was strengthening me over my Eating Disorder. And of course it was going to bite back like a ferocious Alsatian at any given opportunity, which is what this milk incident was.
After a few days of Anorexia’s milky rebelling, I now jumped back on the bandwagon. But it just so happened that one of the other patients had noticed other milk being left in the fridge too. She explained that it was difficult to see, as it makes you feel ‘wrong’ and it feels a little ‘unfair’ that some people are completing theirs and others aren’t.
I thought I was all convinced by this way of thinking too. Until it got discussed and another patient raised a conflicting point. She highlighted how for some people, it might be their particular struggle, and that they may be working on it with their dietician as something to tackle.
This made sense.
Someone else raised that it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business how much milk we all drink and it’s not for us to compare. When the conversation expanded, it came to surface that actually, we are only responsible for ourselves. Anorexia is the jealous, comparative bitter one. If we want to take ownership of our own recovery, we also have to take responsibility for our own actions.
If some people are simply just avoiding drinking their milk out of fear/struggle and because they can get away with it, that ultimately only feeds into the Eating Disorder and will remain as a mental barrier. A boulder still waiting to be moved.
I realised this was quite a scary concept, and staying true to why I chose to take this recovery road in the first place, I decided to make friends with my liquid calcium again. And myself. This meant not listening to Anorexia’s shouting when I opened the fridge and saw other people’s Eating Disorders letting them get away with leaving milk. It meant trying to push the mental boulder so that it wouldn’t fester as a later problem, leaving me to fear milk in the future when I know, deep down the real me wants full recovery.
I’d only be jeopardising my own recovery, shooting myself in the foot.
And how can I fully recover and not enjoy a Vanilla Chai Latte when Yasmin says she fancies one?
(I’m now literally obsessed by the way… excitingly for the ‘real’ me, the ‘Twinings’ range also do other flavours… ‘Gingerbread’, ‘Caramel Redbush’ and ‘Bollywood’. Absolute heaven. I don’t know whether I’m obsessed and in love with these milky dreamboats because my Anorexic tastebuds have missed out on many colourful flavours for so long, or that they genuinely are a pure heaven sensation by any human standards…! You’ll have to try them and let me know!)
By the way… said with a gutted heartfelt… I feel that for my love of Cath Kidston and my favourite mug from home, this should be a headline…
I smashed my favourite Cath Kidston gnome mug after tea. That’s my THIRD personal mug, in addition to the one Unit mug I’ve now smashed in the month since being here.
But now you know I’d pay the price for any new mug if it means drinking Vanilla Chai Lattes for the rest of my days…