DAY #25 FULL PORTIONS
Weetabix x 2.
Wholemeal toast x 2, butter. (…marmite on one slice)
Sausage hotpot, boiled rice, sliced green beans.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
Egg mayo sandwiches (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Pineapple sponge and custard.
Weetabix x 2.
…& the usual pint of milk.
“We’re still early days…” my nurse (male) reassured me in my 1:1 this afternoon. Those words feel some kind of a fib? The amount of brain power I’ve used over these past 38 days and nights (okay maybe it is early days looking at that digit in the bigger scheme of things!), the amount of bulbs I must have had to replace throughout this recovery thing so far, genuinely, it feels like months/lightyears. That’s absolutely not a complaint; it’s more genuine disbelief!!
I remember reading something a bit ago, that really struck a chord with me. Makes complete sense! It explained how time feels like it’s ‘dragging’ when we are doing things out of habit. The ‘same old’. ‘What we know best’. All the autopilot responses that we rely on for the bits and pieces that need doing day-to-day. That’s because physically, your brain requires less energy – the pathways/instructions are already imprinted, so it doesn’t have to go searching for what to do, or to write out another instruction in it’s mental manual. It requires less concentration so is much more aware of the time passing.
On the other hand, when we learn something NEW, or we are doing something ‘different’ to what we usually do (breaking a habit), as you can guess this takes the opposite effect. The brain tries to make sense of this new ‘thing’, ‘activity’, ‘way of being’ or information… which requires a hell of a lot more energy, a stronger push on the pedals to keep the bike moving. I see it also a bit like – you know when you were at primary school, and once you’d written a pencil draft of a poem/piece of writing, you were asked to write it up ‘neat’ in black pen for the wall? I imagine that’s what the brain is trying to do with the new information carefully, writing up a new pathway for it to remember in the future. In case it so happens to pop up again.
Then, if a similar situation occurs and this new information (new habit/behaviour for example), the brain will recognise it more than the first time, and assign it the new pathway it’s recently created, so that every time this information is accessed, it feels easier and more natural, requiring less concentration and mental effort…
…and this is why it feels it’s been much longer than just over a month! All those years of living my life conditioned by ‘rules’, driven by ‘rules’, making everyday choices by ‘rules’ have suddenly been tested daily. This is all said in a positive way by the way! I’m just bashing out my fascination at the brain… ! Because I’m going against a LOT of automatic behaviours with regards to ‘eating behaviours’, ‘meal-planning’ choices, how I spend my time, what’s driving me to spend my time the way I do…. Everything including and beyond ‘food’ itself. I’m at the point where (perhaps over-thinking) I’m starting to doubt every thought in my head now… ? Even down to if I really ‘like’ something genuinely as myself, or is it/did it come from reasons driven by an Eating Disorder?
You start to really question your identity… like for so long I’ve been convinced that I ‘prefer’ my own company, that I’m not ‘confident’ talking to people. That I get things done more productively on my own. Maybe the drive to be on my own was controlled by illness? Because of the pre-occupation with food/the shame that made me push people away/ the fear that feeling out of control around people would lead to me over-eating/ that if I feel shy/inadequate around people, what if that makes me go home to comfort eat/purely the amount of TIME it takes to be so controlled around food – the preparation, the planning, the food shopping, the counting. Or did the social fear, and the isolation CAUSE the Eating Disorder?
I guess it’s a chicken or the egg scenario.
Even down to things like coffee… I thought/still feel like coffee is one of my biggest passions. But how did I start liking coffee? I wanted to like it ‘black’ with the hope that maybe, if I like the taste of an almost calorie-free drink, it will stop me eating too much? I didn’t even like the taste of it first time round, so I ‘trained’ myself like a puppy being potty-trained… and kept drinking it until I got used to it. (although this query circles my mind about reasons behind coffee, I think it was also perhaps down to getting to that ‘sixth form’ age and wanting to feel ‘grown-up’… ! I can’t be over-assuming and put it all down to an Eating Disorder. Even though at this stage, regardless of my appearance on the outside, a pretty ‘average’ figure, I was still extremely emotionally involved with food)
I have to say, all this day-in day-out mental wattage by brain is currently eating up… despite it being incredibly draining/confusing/painful at times… in a way it feels amazing. Amazing because it makes you learn something new about hope.
All this time I’ve been CONVINCED my brain is too stubborn with it’s behaviours and it’s choices to change. No matter how miserable I know deep-down it’s making me – the life it’s put on hold. That it’s hold is too tight. That I’ll never be brave enough to face the threat of letting it go. The irrational belief that something bad will happen to me, that the world will fall apart if I try something different.
The incredible HOPE at our fingertips, to think we are ALWAYS so close to a different way of feeling, if only we LET that familiar ‘same-old’ addictive behaviour go. We are always one or two steps away from a different path. Sometimes we need to be told it’s there, sometimes we come across it unintentionally, sometimes we can’t even see it but we need to trust in walking away from the one that is clearly making us unhappy.
We are completely in control of our own happiness. And that starts with looking at our own habits. Our attitudes, values. How we spend our time. Who we spend our time with. Whether we spend ENOUGH time doing what makes us happy. I say it like it’s an easy thing and it’s not, because it means stepping OUT of what we do/how we think without actually thinking about it. If we question the reasons behind why we do certain things that make us unhappy and set a plan for how to challenge that, we have the ability to make any positive change happen for ourselves.
I’ll stop pretending I’m the female Dalai Lama now… ! Because I’m definitely not. But I wanted to share with you what I’m learning as I go along. Think of something you do so many times without thinking… question why you do it, and if it doesn’t benefit you or make you happy, change it around and bring some happiness into your life that was probably already sat on your doorstep.