Bran flakes. (half a bowl… still no Weetabix… )
Wholemeal toast x 2, margarine. (still no butter… )
Cheddar cheese (sliced) wholemeal sandwich, 5-bean salad, side salad.
Peach full-fat yoghurt.
Roast pork in gravy, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, brussel sprouts.
Weetabix x 2.
…& the usual pint of milk.
Broken; spot on for my mind today. It has been for a long-time; but because I wasn’t actually ‘aware’ that I was living from a ‘broken’, irrational mind as it became my REALITY… it didn’t hurt. The headaches for constantly re-checking calories eaten through the day and how many I still had to spare… didn’t hurt. The sore grinding of my backbones on the floor as I carried out my compulsive sit-up regime, first thing in the morning and last thing at night… to put a gift-bow on earning my breakfast and supper for the day… didn’t hurt. Cracked, dry bleeding knuckles from malnutrition… didn’t hurt.
Anorexia’s got a cracking supply of plasters for covering up all that real pain.
Ultimately, that’s what Eating Disorders are. A visual plaster to the rest of the world, hiding much deeper anxieties about themselves and their life.
On a day-in, day-out mission, I feel like my head is in a race with my body. To keep working at and un-solving why and what is driving my Eating Disorder. How to take off the plaster without pulling off too many hairs or making myself too vulnerable too soon. How to be ‘happy’ and ‘content’ without obsessions, rules and compulsions sending me off-road…
I think that sometimes when people embark on recovery, they find it easy to become fixated on challenging the ‘food’ aspect. Putting in a challenging chocolate bar for the week, or building themselves up to a particular fear meal. But in a way, although it seems positive in terms of challenging the Eating Disorder, that still can become quite obsessive and actually long-term feed into the food obsession/anxiety.
I know that was my approach looking back at my first inpatient admission. And in a way, that was still a plaster for covering up what’s really going on inside me which feels messy, confusing and uncertain.
Well as I’m 5 weeks into slowly peeling the plaster away, there’s certainly some bleeding. Not only the pain of taking away that food control – going AGAINST Anorexia’s desire not to be a healthy weight, AGAINST having to weigh and calorie-count all my food, AGAINST having to physically earn everything I eat, AGAINST never feeling a need to eat indulgent foods… and now, this week, AGAINST using all rigid eating behaviours in order to still cling on to control. Slowly chipping away, peeling off the plaster…
…and that’s where my personal (real) weaknesses are shimmying full-whack into the spotlight.
And it’s starting to feel very mentally sharp and painful.
Due to feeling so low and negative in myself today (I’ve had a sh*t attitude, and I recognise this is when Anorexia is slapping me silly for deciding to go ahead with this divorce… or it tries to seduce me back into it’s safe, black and white, isolated world after it points out all the things I need to work on myself that are making me weak, losing hope of a better future) …I wrote an honest list to myself of things I’ve recognised I need to conquer for recovery.
My MAIN BIGGY’S are – self-esteem/depression, perfectionism and social anxiety/skills.
From scribbling away my thoughts everyday (after each meal, bits and bobs in a diary and then this whole blog therapy… !) …I’ve come to recognise the same old broken record get played, the same cycle of thoughts and behaviours spinning like hot-cakes. And ALWAYS feeding into my Eating Disorder, which then feeds back.
It’s all one big cowboy dance in Yasmin’s mind. Some days I feel perfectionism take more of a dosey-do with Anorexia, other days it’s my social anxiety skipping round the barn with it (TODAY) which often invites it’s friend self-esteem in too for a laugh.
But the further I push this divorce from Anorexia in my mind-set, the stronger the other issues linger. The louder they sound, the more tense my hands become.
Today for example, has been self-esteem/social anxiety’s constant niggles of how much of a negative person I feel. How I fear hugely being a negative influence around others, being boring or anyway, fearing that awkwardness when you feel like the other person/people are probably desperately hoping you’ll leave soon or that they can get away from you. That every time I hear two people laughing or whispering in the same room, it’s probably about me and how pathetic I am…
…that every time I go into that dining room at the moment I am DREADING that wave of rejection when you see others going to sit at other tables, avoiding yours. And DREADING to think what must be going through people’s heads when they see that a chair at my table is the only option. That shame, pulling my head to the floor like a magnet, when the guilt is now focused on the fact that this poor person has to sit in my s****y, inadequate, awkward company.
And yes. That then sets off the bullet to the self-destructive Eating Disorder thoughts. This is when it makes it even harder to now compulsively turn to behaviours at meal-times to feel control over my plate. To make things clean, tidy and orderly… everything absolutely NOT in my head.
At lunch and tea today, these awkward social thoughts were horrendous. I was suddenly aware of my tensing hands, as I escaped the visual pain of the food, putting my knife and fork down between mouthfuls, head repetitively pulled to my lap with increased gravity by that magnet. During chewing, I felt my fingers tensing, fidgeting and squeezing together were like an ibuprofen for a headache, the body’s natural attempt to release this unbearable anxiety.
Because of this tidal wave of thoughts, when walking into tea, I had written off any chance of being able to resist eating everything separately. But I remembered the graded exposure plan that I put together with my dietician yesterday. So I still completed my daily challenge of mixing two food types together at one time throughout the meal… apart from the mashed potato at the end.
I didn’t let Anorexia get it’s stubborn fix of short-term rigid pleasure. I let it get away at the end a bit yes, but that felt as though it was for my own sanity. But despite my negative thoughts and social awkwardness, I refused to let the natural pathway in my brain spark up that automatic reaction to turn to my Eating Disorder. That’s the bit I’m trying really hard at each day. It’s like a tug-of-war and I’m scared what negatives I’ll discover about myself day-after-day without the Anorexic plaster to numb the mental pain of it all.
Eating Disorders are so much more straight-forward when you’re lost in yourself. Yes, they’re difficult to live up to at first. They set you high-standards and inflict starvation, but they’re the ‘easier’, more structured type of anxiety over the rest of my insecurities. And this is how sneakily seductive it is for many, many sufferers that have felt a sleep-walking, subconscious urge to grasp some control in their life. And for what it can feel like an incredibly messy head.
So NOW if you weren’t convinced that Eating Disorders were a mental illness… that they’re just a ‘vanity’ thing… are you now?