Weetabix x 2.
White toast x 2, butter.
Breaded fish fillet, mashed potato, mushy peas.
Rhubarb crumble and custard.
Tuna mayo sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
“The only thing keeping you happy is the belief that you are alone.”
As you’ll notice that toast has now become a breakfast add-on, instead of a mid-morning snack…
I was pretty anxious about this to be fair. It’s what happens when you’ve been in the ‘main’ dining room for a couple of weeks or so. Until this morning, I’d been eating my cereal and waiting for the majority of the other patients whilst they had their toast.
The reason you have it mid-morning at first, is to help maintain your blood sugars (originally from starvation mode) but then, even when they’ve normalised for a while, I think it’s to stop you from feeling overwhelmed, perhaps, first thing in the morning, with the two breakfast courses.
I guess that’s now one of the perks – not having to wait for 10 minutes at the table whilst others are still eating. I often felt quite awkward in the sense of worrying about if THEY felt uncomfortable. Not just if you have an Eating Disorder, sitting with someone who isn’t eating (I suppose depending how well you know that person) does feel a bit odd. But when that someone is in recovery from an Eating Disorder, I suppose it makes you feel even more wary.
One of my worries about having my toast moved to this time of day alongside cereal – was about how full I’d feel afterwards. And to be totally honest, I couldn’t feel a difference. If anything, it was nice to feel engaged in what most of the others in the dining room were doing, instead of feeling like an odd-bod. The distraction of conversation around the table and making that *push* in myself to engage, and not just let shame take over as it sometimes does when I shut myself off into a little bubble. It was a simple way of feeling more connected, basically put.
As the toast is given out around the tables, you actually also get more time to spread and eat it too, as sometimes other patients are waiting to get theirs when you’ve already started. And the time (10 minutes) that we have to complete it, doesn’t get called until the last person has theirs. So that helps relieve one of the anxieties of actually eating it. Which means you can savour the taste a bit more too.
When I used to have it for snack, the time is called as soon as you have your toast and still have to spread it etc., and because of the time pressure it can make you feel rushed and on edge at always checking the clock.
Another anxiety about having my toast moved to this time, was less about the quantity of food. It was more psychological I guess. I now can openly recognise that a lot of my Eating Disordered thoughts relate to the idea of food as a ‘reward’, and in some ways, a motivational factor. It’s weird to try and explain, so I don’t blame you if it doesn’t make complete sense.
In a way, having the toast mid-morning, seemed to spread out the ‘rewards’ through the day, a pit-stop between the hours almost. So knowing that snack was coming was almost like a ‘finishing line’ to whatever tasks I was aiming to complete in the couple of hours before. And as breakfast is difficult in line with this way of thinking anyway – eating first thing after not ‘doing’ anything mentally or physically (WHICH I NOW RECOGNISE IS AN UTTERLY IRRATIONAL WAY OF THINKING – YOUR BODY USES UP AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF ENERGY, THROUGH BREATHING, SLEEPING, BY YOUR ORGANS, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING… !), having the added toast I felt would be another mental emphasis on this unhelpful thought.
But I didn’t think twice about that afterwards. So again, Anorexia was wrong.
The easiest thing for me to do this morning… would have been to stick with my ‘wholemeal’ planned toast for the day. As I knew I was having a sandwich on wholemeal bread later, I felt this was an opportunity to maintain my ‘exposure’ to white bread. Again, I don’t want to try it as a ‘one-off’ thing to exaggerate the unhelpful ‘indulgence’ thoughts from my Eating Disorder. The more I’m exposing myself to it, the more ‘normal’ and settled it all feels in my head.
But whilst portioning my Weetabix, I asked the staff again if I could change it to white. I almost took that request straight back when I heard her read out the white/wholemeal bread needed altogether to the staff member on ‘toast-duty’ and realised I was the only one who chose that option. Everyone else chose wholemeal! (What makes me think I’m so special? Why do I feel the need to be extra greedy?) If it was a few weeks back, then absolutely that’s what I would do. I’d let the shame cripple me up and automatically I’d want to reclaim the ‘peace’ in my head by sticking with wholemeal.
I knew this was a Yasmin decision though and I stuck by it. Yes of course I was a bit wary of what other people might have thought, but staying true to my own intentions feels more important than that now. That’s the most healthy way I’m going to recover, if I really want a hold on my life. To feel guided and trusting of my own instincts… not easy in such a persuasive and psychologically manipulative world, but one way of living that with practice is likely to be one of peace.
Today, I’ve had these weird inspired brainwaves. Especially this morning. It was another series of ‘lightbulb’ moments I guess, about what actually IS the meaning of life and what offers us FULFILLMENT. It might seem mega heavy, but when you are trying to rediscover yourself and strip away an Eating Disorder, it can really help you to put life into perspective. And it gives incredible HOPE to what potentially COULD help you cope and god knows, even ENJOY your life… and give you a sense of fulfilment back, the part of you that feels empty when you are starting to commit to recovery.
I was going to dip deeper into the topic I was watching videos on and reading about today. But time’s ticking on now I’ve rambled about cooked bread for a few paragraphs. And I know it’s not going to be snappy thing to discuss.
But basically, it was all on the ‘art of connection’ – how everything exists to connect. How it’s hard-wired in all of us to connect. And when we have that lack of connection – so we don’t feel seen, valued or heard – we suffer loneliness. Which not only impacts on our mental health, but can shorten our life-span. In a world obsessed by social media too, it’s so easy to lose sight of what a meaningful connection is… that when tragedy/disaster occurs, we don’t have meaningful support networks we can turn to.
The whole ‘connection’ thing really got me looking at my values… and it really did make sense to me in the WEIRDEST but most fascinating way in terms of my Eating Disorder. Could it have replaced that lack of ‘connection’ I felt with real people?