Weetabix x 2.
White toast x2, butter.
Stewed steak and dumpling, boiled potatoes, baby carrots.
Jacket potato, butter, baked beans, side salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
You’d think it was Halloween with that blog title… don’t worry, it’s still July – feel reassured. No need to carve a face in your pumpkins just yet… !
For Anorexia though, there is part of every day in recovery that DOES feel like Halloween. Except it makes ME feel like the ugly monster with the ghoulish rubbery mask and the bloodshot eyes…
And yes, at lunch I nearly let my snot flavour my stew.
When things begin to feel emotionally ‘messy’ and I start losing a sense or any confidence about who I am, I get reminded how it was a ‘bad’ idea to give up food control. To strip myself of it’s rules, to eat more foods that ‘Yasmin’ chooses… to actually make myself VULNERABLE. To commit to the terrifying prospect of finding my own voice and learning how to connect with the real world.
Any general life move I make now that projects me as ‘weak’ or a ‘bad’ person, Anorexia throws over that bucket of lime green slime. The shame slime.
So I did have a positive morning. No twinkle fairies or shooting stars kind of positive… but in the sense that I felt release/relieved from giving myself a push to speak out during group. To express myself. Personally, that feels a HUGE good thing. Any moment I feel I can do that, and come out the other side without beating myself up too much feels a bit like a win on the Euro-Millions. Even better when I can take it that step further, to speak when it’s not ‘expected’. To WANT to help other patients in the group by giving them feedback on what they too have shared…
…because the main record playing on the rusty old vinyl in that dusty attic of my mind, throughout my every living day (volume now turned on full whack without Anorexia to drown it out…) is the worry of NOT being able to express myself.
If I don’t will I be discarded? Does my value immediately decrease? Who am I to think my opinion actually matters? Fear of feeling selfish for deciding that I deserve to talk and make myself heard. Fear of what people will think of me when I try to talk. Fear of losing control over food in the future if I’m unable to cope with properly connecting with others. Fear of feeling awkward and trapped… will that anxiety of it all close me off and shut me down until I have no words? And if I have no words, how will people value me? Will I stutter and sound stupid? What if I share too much and sound selfish? What if I don’t share/talk enough and get trodden on? What if I become invisible and worthless to people if I have no confidence? What if I can’t tell people how much they really mean to me and they think I don’t care… ?
If you were hoping for something a bit more upbeat like the ‘Beatles – Yellow Submarine’ tinkering out on the record player instead… my brain isn’t that place. Not right now anyway.
For the past couple of groups on the Unit, I felt like I scared myself into a bit of a corner since the whole ‘blog’ debate/discussion. This was a day for example, that Anorexia threw a Halloween party. Reminded me of the ghoul mask staring back at me in the mirror, for even attempting to express myself. Evidence that I am the worthless, weak person it always said I was for actually thinking I had anything worthy to say and put out into the world… (The rational me now though makes sense of what happened – that speaking out will sometimes put you at risk of conflict. It’s going to be an ongoing learning curve… but I won’t learn anything by choosing to stay silent. So I’d say it’s worth that risk of not always being right or saying what people would prefer to hear/not hear at the right time…)
So going back to today’s decent morning. I spoke out in ‘Thoughts and Feelings’ group and I came away feeling like I’d taken a step. Not just opting for ‘safety’. Like any human in their right, I made myself heard. And vulnerable to sharing my own personal thoughts… and decided to give encouragement/advice to others when I had the natural itch to do so. Rather than pushing it back down my vocal cord and shutting it up, as is my usual instinct.
Lunch came. Our table was the first to portion. I was the very first to portion. Which for some reason, always promotes anxiety anyway. But I approached lunch feeling fresh after a therapeutic morning. There is no way to creatively pad this out, and I now realise I seem to have a funny way with introducing my topics with fancy words, but then the real stuff, describing the actually event is pretty blunt and basic in comparison.
The stewed steak comes in a little metal tray of two portions. So two dumplings, on top of the stew (which takes more judgment from you about how much to take). Took my dumpling. Took some stew… (admittedly I did take a little less as at the moment, for reassurance, I’d rather be told to take more, than to be told to take any off and OVER-portion…) So I added a bit more as the nurse advised.
Then it came to the common ‘patient versus nurse’ portion tennis match. I’d taken half the contents of the metal tray, so assumed I’d got myself the substantial portion by now. I challenged the nurse when she insisted I needed more meat, simply saying it looked enough, without raising my voice, but instead actually expressing my FEAR of taking too much more than anything…
…so she repeated in quite a cold, insistent voice into my ear that I needed to pick out more meat and spooned it on my plate for herself. Now I’m a pretty open-minded person nowadays when it comes to challenging my thoughts around food – whether that be choices/portions etc. So I’m always willing to listen and take advice on board. But it’s the way I felt I was spoken to that made Anorexia throw a Halloween party. (that ghoul mask looking back at me in the mirror)
She seemed to lose patience and empathy in those few seconds, jumping to take a snappy approach to hurry me along. And even though (as with others I’ve spoken to share the same opinion) some staff naturally portion things slightly more/larger than others… this nurse being one of them… I am accepting of the fact that I need to respect this staff member’s view on portion sizes and get on with it. If I’m going to conquer my Eating Disordered thoughts for the future and not just my weight, this level of ACCEPTANCE that meal sizes will always vary, is essential for full recovery. And long-term sanity…
…but it’s the way I was spoken to that made me feel the lime green shame slime drip off my forehead. And I am still questioning whether it was how I took it… what it triggered in ME to make me react so sensitively… that made me so upset. For some reason, something flicked inside me. I felt all of a sudden so small… weak… pathetic… worthless… ashamed… and instantly my thoughts clung it’s sharp claws onto what happened this morning.
A positive morning.
Telling me this was evidence why I didn’t DESERVE to feel positive. See – don’t bother getting your hopes up with positivity… you weren’t born to be confident so don’t kid yourself… you’re not worthy enough to use your voice this morning… you never should have done… what makes you feel so big in your boots to say what’s on your mind… you should always keep quiet… you don’t deserve to feel positive… you’re a bad, horrible, rude person… you will go nowhere in life…
…cue Anorexia’s Halloween party. I tried to contain my tears at the table, mainly out of fear of ‘drawing attention’ to myself or creating unnecessary drama, which would just spiral my negative thoughts worse. But I felt so annoyed at myself for believing I should have had confidence up until this very point, angry that I was STILL choosing to let Anorexia go despite feeling like this… like we all get, the silent tears fell anyway as I attempted to pick up my knife and fork, in-between dabbing my scrummy snot with a disintegrating tissue.
The rational thing to do at this moment would have been to blow my nose, however 1. It would look like I was drawing pathetic attention to myself at the table and 2. So would asking to leave the dining room so that I could outside…
…anyway, got on with it. Not even seeing it as an option now, regardless of how sh*tty my emotions get. This recovery war is all about SEPARATING my emotions from mood. Which means sitting in the sh*t, sometimes dancing in the sh*t, sometimes even WEARING it.
This is going to sound vain, and I’m quite embarrassed to say but as part of my perfectionism is to feel like I have to wear my make-up and keep it in place to deserve to eat. So the fact this was all mushed up made that ghoulish Halloween mask, shown again to me by Anorexia even more ugly. The shame of actually sitting here being even more unworthy to sit and eat food in this now physical as well as emotional state.
I DID allow myself to go outside and blow my nose when the plates were getting cleared before dessert. When I went into the toilet I let out a quick angry cry so I could compose myself for going back in. Then one of the dieticians was stood outside, and she’s one of those people that I have a LOT of respect for – just because she has some empathy about her. And seems to go that extra little mile when it’s not always expected. So I appreciated the fact that she encouraged me to explain what was wrong before going back in for dessert.
So I did, and I expressed how I don’t even know why I’m so upset… I couldn’t trust whether I over-reacted or if it was a ‘normal’ response. Anyway, all a learning curve and that…
…but the other bomb to drop (that I think just felt bigger because of the emotional situation) was that the strawberry mousse was actually CHOCOLATE flavour today. So Anorexia, spotting the power it currently had to poison my positivity, was to pick up on the fact that tonight I have a chocolate bar planned for supper. One of the two more difficult options I have planned for this week. The first time I’ve had a ‘Twirl’ in literally years… it was my next step up from the ‘Kit-Kat’ out of the choices here. So of course my head was saying I told you it was dangerous to pick chocolate and you never should have, blah blah blah…. how are you going to sit and enjoy the taste of an indulgent chocolate bar after today proves what a worthless person you are, blah blah blah…
…but that’s why it’s even MORE important that tonight I eat that chocolate bar. To REMIND my brain that it is still acceptable and a human birth-right to eat chocolate, regardless of your emotion. That your emotions should not take the steering wheel when it comes to your diet.
I already know that I will enjoy the TASTE of the ‘Twirl’ – because I know that the real me loves Cadbury’s. But it is the unpredictable MENTAL stuff that comes along with the tasting that absolutely is NOT enjoyable… it is terrifying. And that’s why, before choosing recovery it has been so much easier (and mentally quieter) to avoid all those tasty things altogether.
But at the end of the day, what’s it going to take for me to FINALLY feel like I deserve to eat a ‘Twirl’ bar… ?
All we have is NOW…
Back on a positive note… I received such a quirky card off my (secretly) creative Dad today. Cheered me right up as it was just after the lunch incident. He made a little collage on the front and stuck on a few cheeky SMURF (my guilty pleasure) stickers… ! Made me crack a smile.
Also yesterday we made tie-dye t-shirts on the Unit… and I’m impressed with how they’ve all come out. So it’s not ALL doom and gloom…
…and it’s definitely not Halloween yet.