Wholemeal toast x2, butter.
Jacket potato, soya chilli, butter, side salad.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
Pork in gravy, mashed potato, broccoli.
Plum crumble and custard.
Supper Weetabix x 2.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Muesli was ‘Mount Etna’ compared to the bright yellow toddler slide, Weetabix, just a few weeks ago. It’s weird. As my head is by now so used to flashing a sparkly red siren every time I consider Muesli as a breakfast option… ‘danger’ still mentally springs up. Like a habit. I’m realising how continuing to choose it is the way to ‘un-train’ my brain and all the rules Anorexia drilled in.
This morning, looking down at my bowl I was almost ‘expecting’ the niggling thoughts to rise. Waiting for them to prod, poke and froth up… nothing. At my surprise I was reflecting instead how THANKFUL I was. Thankful that I wasn’t still STUCK in a Weetabix rut. Safe, familiar, consistent and predictable. All the boxes an Eating Disorder likes to tick.
…I thought I’d have to achieve something MARVELLOUS to be entitled to the right of such a ‘frilly, fancy’ cereal (so my head was telling me). The raisins like little glistening gold coins that only special people could earn. And now I was just bloody thankful. I’m starting to enjoy it – the taste outweighing the mental noise that usually comes with eating something labelled at first as ‘unsafe’. It’s hard to ‘trust’ that eating something not ‘safe, consistent and predictable’ ISN’T being out of control. That food isn’t the commandment for life. That I am not a burger, a lettuce leaf, a ‘Shreddie’, a hot chocolate… although mentally things can ‘stick’ in terms of guilty thoughts, they are wasted energy. No-one can see them, no one can feel them but you.
There is still part of me that is emotionally attached to Weetabix… hence still alternating with it in my diet as a ‘compromise’. Part of me is intrigued to test COMPLETELY not choosing it for a whole week. Which will flash red sirens for the whole of Leeds to hear… but trusting how surprised I felt looking at my Muesli this morning, I feel like I’m becoming much more resilient at taking ‘mental risks’. I feel I still need to work on that throughout other areas of my life though!
Earlier this afternoon, it was lovely to go out with one of the other patients. We both confessed how despite excitedly making this plan earlier in the week, today ‘in the moment’ when the bubble of food thoughts/emotions take over, we were both craving to isolate rather than feel the pressure of spending time with another person. I guess because you bog yourself down with thoughts of feeling like you won’t be ‘entertaining’ enough, or you don’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable. At least they were the usual boring self-esteem thoughts.
But after we came back from our trip to Asda, we both expressed we were glad we had done it – because you know you’re always going to feel better for spending time with people when your head is telling you to do the exact opposite…
…and this time round, I didn’t feel as overwhelmed being around all the aisles of food either. Maybe being with someone was a better distraction, and there wasn’t time/space to be swallowed by shame and intrusive thoughts. It felt as if a taboo was chiselled away too… speaking with other people with Eating Disorders, you’re always wary of how sensitive they may be talking about food. Especially when it comes to saying GOOD things regarding taste etc. It can be a bit of an awkward topic. A bit like discussing your poo with your grandparents. (cringe, I know – sorry)… but yeah, it’s as cringey as that.
I felt quite angry at the pink elephant that could have been sat in the corner of the supermarket, about what we might say to each other when perusing the aisles. So I went against what my head was telling me, to keep all ‘positive’ food emotion locked up… and tried to break the ice by reminiscing about ‘favourite food items’ in an ideal world when they came up.
So ‘Daim’ ice-cream for example… it’s gorgeous. (one gun shot from Anorexia just gone off) I spotted it in the freezer and it sparked my memory. It felt completely rude to say this out loud. Completely and utterly rebellious. But it was incredibly therapeutic… to say something true to myself, and to also make the other patient feel at ease, in a way to help her open up about what foods she used to like.
And she did… the favourite foods seemed to link to memories with family as she spoke, and she seemed made up to talk about it. I guess we were both sparked with curiosity… now that we felt safe being in company around food, we were stronger to have the space to think and say GOOD things about food.
We also perused the shower gels, smelling all the sweet, dessert-type flavours. Even expressing how lovely a ‘chocolate orange’ flavoured SHOWER GEL used to be a form of swearing to Anorexia… and I was anxious I guess to how she would respond, if she’d clam up and feel ashamed to agree that it smelt lovely and leave me feeling guilty about talking about ‘food-flavoured’ household products. It sounds completely ridiculous I know… ! But it wasn’t that way, and we seemed to be sniffing and sharing our approval for all the flavours on the shelf.
Feel a bit lost overall today to be honest. And I’m currently wearing my trusty ‘Toy Story’ nighty, which is now making me feel much more aware of my body – bits and bobs don’t seem to be tight and in control any more how Anorexia would like them to be. I have to remind me that this is RIGHT though. Not wrong. My instinct is screaming out to need to shrink, but I’m determined to keep working on ‘body image’ to reassure myself what I’m aiming for. To keep reinventing this brand new kind of ‘acceptable’, ‘happy body’ – a ‘happy home’ to live in…
What you fear most, is probably the exact thing you should be doing.