Weetabix x 2.
White toast x 2, butter. (…and Marmite on one slice)
Roast turkey in gravy, mashed potato, brussel sprouts.
Strawberry full-fat yoghurt.
Baked potato, butter, baked beans, side salad.
Sultanas and raisins.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Big potato/small potato… as I found out at tea-time, there’s just no pleasing Anorexia. It if was a BIG potato, as it has been in previous weeks… my head would be saying “seriously, you’ve definitely got the biggest of the bunch… as you tuck into that make sure you know you don’t need or deserve that much…”. Today – being the last one up to portion, I couldn’t even tell if there was still a spud on the counter… it was bobbing behind the other serving trays, like a mini, timid Timmy. Unwrapping the foil and popping it onto my plate was like accidentally letting your hamster escape out of it’s cage. Except the hamster was a ball of negative, self-critical thoughts like “ha, staff obviously saved you the smallest because you’re the greediest/biggest and they think you don’t need as much potato just looking at you…”… “the smaller size is just a reflection of how much less of a reward you deserve today”. You’d think I’d be satisfied with having a smaller portion, a head of peace. I recognise this was a build-up of my insecurities since this morning, as I’ve felt quite paranoid which I’ll explain a bit more tomorrow…
As far as today’s menu goes… it’s been a ‘comfortable’ kind of day. There’s nothing I’ve been dreading, or let sit in the throne of my brain sending out orders of fear and punishment…
The emotional stuff though has been really difficult. It kind of hit me that there never feels a ‘right’ time to relax, just to ‘be’ or have fun… I feel like there’s so much that needs to be worked on in order to feel like a person who has ‘earnt’ that I guess. And it’s deffo not the way I fancy living the rest of my life…
…in the ‘rest’ period after meals, I took up writing in my diary not long after first being admitted here. Something I never did on previous hospital admissions, but this time wanting to confront my feelings and pick up on details around food/social challenges, it’s something I’ve committed to. Journaling can be very therapeutic for mental health… facing instead of avoiding feelings. Being aware of what’s going on is the first step to changing how you feel.
Since starting this journaling, it’s now become natural to analyse the situation in the dining room from 30 seconds before, instead of distracting to brush it off… but now it’s got to the point where I’m questioning – how helpful is it? You know when something begins to become a compulsion – something you HAVE to do. I’m finding myself feeling compelled to write until everything’s out of my head, picking up perhaps on too many details. To the point where I can feel my heart galloping as my pen chases the thoughts…
When researching into mental health journaling, I’d picked up a few tips recently – such as, as well as highlighting the difficulties – rounding it off by what you could do differently next time, so you feel positive in moving forwards. Instead of dwelling on things that get you down. So I have tried this… although I’m still questioning if my perfectionism is taking over. I recognise I’m starting to feel intense through most of the day, often waking up feeling anxious before I’ve began… so an ‘aim’ I shared in group this morning for the week was to re-look at how often I’m writing in my diary… whether to restrict myself to a limited length per meal – a page, instead of sometimes 3 pages… or to decide on a meal after which I won’t write in it at all, and do something totally un-related to food/my Eating Disorder.
After I’ve written in my diary, I do spend the rest of the time left doing something else. I ‘allow’ myself to then. But even then it still kind of ‘needs’ to feel productive or have some kind of purpose… like reading a body confidence book… or crocheting where I still ‘feel’ myself quite intensely needing to focus. When I started drawing, I still found myself having to produce something food-related (in a positive sense)… but HAVE taken to a colouring book the past couple of days. But it all feels ‘driven’ to feel productive, which I’m now realising isn’t particularly making me happy.
I guess now that my Eating Disorder is being torn away, my self-worth is closely intertwined with my achievements/’pro
ductivity’ – another dangerous combo. But being self-aware means that I can actually work on it, so I’m still feeling hopeful.
It’s true that whilst living with an Eating Disorder is a full-time job, recovery is that plus over-time…
The last thing I want to happen is for this blog also to feel like a chore… after having written so much through the day and stewing over food/body/emotional-related situations, I’d quite like to keep this up as feeling like a novelty… rather than something I’ve exhausted by the time I get round to it in the evening.
A couple of other patients were helpful in their suggestions this morning – such as incorporating some drawing into journaling… or using the ‘rest’ time to write about a random topic or using a random word of inspiration… keeping the mind imaginative and productive but with a focus un-related to food.
I guess part of the compulsion to write so much is the fear of ‘leaving stuff out’. Especially as in the past I barely wrote at all, so I’m scared at not putting in ‘enough’ effort to mentally work through things in order to recover, to keep my brain catching up with my changing body. But really, is it serving as therapeutic? Or would it actually be MORE therapeutic to plan in time to do ‘fun’/relaxing stuff… ? Because it’s those other things and life experiences that give us inspiration to drive our future decisions anyway… to present us with new ideas…
Still pondering on how to go about managing this, so any thoughts please let me know!
On a lighter note, it was honestly amazing to see my Mum, her partner and my sister (who sneakily came as a surprise…) It put things into perspective and almost frustrated me that I was SO bothered/tormented about this compulsive writing thing… like suddenly, all my worries shrank to pea-size. And to be honest I just wanted to be whisked away with them and crack on with life…
…but, reality check: to crack on with life, I need to crack on picking out the Eating Disordered weeds in my brain cells first!