Wholemeal toast x 2 (…Marmite on one slice)
Cheese omelette, chipped potatoes, side salad.
Tuna mayo sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
Weetabix x 2.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
So yesterday, I discovered a new ‘fairy theory’ for a happier life:
Your day may not always go to plan… but that doesn’t mean you’ve ‘failed’. It just means you’ve SUCCEEDED experiencing OTHER things you didn’t plan in that day. Make plans, but use it as a loose guide… not a wall of cemented bricks. Otherwise you may go to bed feeling like you’ve failed. Set yourself up for more chance of ‘succeeding’ by allowing and welcoming unexpected things to pop up during your day…
Guilty as charged. I’m a sucker for feeling like I need to ‘plan’ everything in order for ‘doing it’ to feel justified…
…but yesterday has proven to me that the best things are usually the spontaneous. The unexpected. And that I probably achieved more than what my routine ‘plan’ would have been. After all, when things become too military, they can lose their sense of inspiration.
So if you’ve been reading my previous posts, you’ll know that I’m now adding in an extra piece of fruit per day, on top of the normal meal-plan. The first few times, I’d approached staff to ask them if I could sit with those on a planned morning snack to munch my fruit, so that it appeared ‘scheduled’ rather than me CHOOSING to ‘have extra’. It helped nudge away the ‘shame’ that might come with looking greedy, over-indulgent… in case it made a statement that I felt ‘deserving’ to eat more than others…
…but yesterday, I had a ‘f*ck it’ moment. And I don’t know about you but I LOVE these moments. They make you feel like a superhero in your own skin. Even just for a fleeting minute!
The f*ck it moment involved breakfast and a cheeky little Braeburn.
In the dining room, once we’re seated on tables of four, we’re called up table by table to portion our cereals. After I’d gone up, sat down, poured milk on my Weetabix, mushed them up and waited for it to soak in… (mushy over crispy any day) there was suddenly an opportunity right there. I could see the fruit bowl at 11 o’clock in my vision… approximately 2 metres, 3 seconds away from where I was sat. I found myself staring at my bowl urging the white milk to absorb itself and disappear into the mushy wheat. I knew I’d be having a piece of fruit today, but I felt determined to take that power of ‘shame’ away from my Eating Disorder. During this waiting for paint to dry/waiting for the milk soaking scenario… I thought, ya know what… let’s go for that Braeburn now?! What’s the worst that can happen… ? I feel greedy because I’ve only ever seen one or two people further along the stages in their treatment have fruit at breakfast? And everyone will look at me thinking I love my food and that I feel deserving to eat so much? Really, will that be SO important to stick with people’s minds through their day?
Logically, I really don’t think so. I declared my f*ck it moment to the rest of the table, took a trip to the fruit bowl and back and started munching on my (admittedly mushy, but it was a muggy day) apple. It felt bizarre… but great all at once. I didn’t particularly enjoy that specific apple, but I enjoyed breaking my Eating Disorder’s rules, and making it feel a bit more chaotic knowing that this was me actually getting some more power back…
…and the most humbling thing about this moment, was that the lovely girl sat next to me said she’d “join me with a banana”! I know she didn’t just do it to support me, she may have been curious too… but I felt like a little bulb in a string of fairy lights getting brighter; an empowering surge of mental electricity.
It felt like a street march/protest of some kind, any kind. But in this case I guess it was a mental street march against Anorexia? A street march for ‘food over fear’, for ‘acting on instinct’. Proof to the rest of the dining room that there was no need to feel embarrassed… that we may all, in that room, have an Eating Disorder. But we also know, deep down, that we all love food.
Food exists to create pleasure, so that in the ancient times, we ‘wanted to hunt it and eat it’ as a way of survival. Yet, it’s almost like in today’s world, it’s easy to fall for combining ‘pleasure’ from food as a weakness… as if it’s something we can psychologically choose to control. That people who don’t express as much enjoyment must be stronger? The whole messed-up way of thinking that comes hand-in-hand with Eating Disorders. We don’t judge other people for enjoying food, so why do we set different standards for ourselves?
So, perhaps we should all take comfort when that guilty irrational theory comes around… the whole enjoying taste thing comes down to SCIENCE, not emotional choice or psychological strength. A physiological function of our bodies.
F*ck it moment number 2 yesterday occurred just after breakfast. I think perhaps I was still feeling that fairy-light energy thanks to the Braeburn… but I went outside and took the gamble of ringing my sister. Phwoar… that really reads as an anti-climax. I probably made it sound as though I was about to announce that I’d shaved my head and spray-painted it gold. If you were expecting that, I can only apologise…
…but in terms of anything really that involves ‘talking’, I always usually feel as though I have to work myself up to it… to ‘plan’ in a phone call for a set time later in the day. I don’t know if there’s a fair few people that perhaps dread speaking on phones, but it’s something I feel edgy and vulnerable doing. It’s the fact the other person has to rely solely on the sound of your voice for you to be able to communicate. You don’t have your face as your walking stick, facial expressions being the ‘second voice’. And there’s something about the sound of my voice that I don’t trust; it scares me and I think anxiety tricks me into thinking I’m going to sound stupid, that I’m going to stumble or I’ll reach a tree stump in my voice box and suddenly feel stuck, mute, unable to express myself.
Enough of that, fact was I rang my sister… she answered (bonus)… and we had a crackin’ convo. It really set my day off to a good start… maybe each positive mini risk of the day were like magnets, pushing me to the next… fairy lights starting to ping on one by one. I know it was my sister, not exactly someone I should feel nervous with, but it didn’t matter because offering my voice and nothing else out through an invisible telephone line, to me feels like being a baby hedgehog lost in the middle of a busy road. But after we ended that phone call, it went fine, maybe more than fine… and it gave me a little boost of confidence for the rest of the day.
And then came f*ck it moment number 3. So I’d set myself the social ‘challenge’ of nipping out with one of the girls on my hour’s leave from the Unit. Instead of my usual own company.
Again, it was the whole baby hedgehog in the road situation – wasn’t an hour too long for her to spend with me to eventually realise how weak, boring and all-round sh*t company I was? I didn’t allow the usual niggling thoughts to shut me down, and instead persevered enjoying conversation and her company… we took a trip to Costa on the bus, and still lost in the enjoyment of talking whilst in the queue, hadn’t even pre-thought what I was going to order as a drink.
Usually I would have been re-checking, re-considering my decision with calories being the main issue of fear/concern… I’d be talking but in my head I’d be in the next room, at a distance from the conversation.
I knew I didn’t fancy a black coffee, and I felt ‘curious’ now that I was in Costa for the first time in a LONG, LONG time with this new ‘recovery’ vision… instead of the day being handled like a puppet with calorie-tracking. Deducting how many I had left to allow myself for the day. It was quite a muggy day and my friend went for the raspberry lemonade on instinct, something she’d learnt to love since she’d started challenging things earlier in her recovery…
…I saw a new ‘sign’ pop up in my head, instead of the usual ‘what’s the point in extra calories?’ direction pointing me to boring same-old choice syndrome… ESPECIALLY as I’d just had that ‘extra’ piece of fruit at breakfast… AS WELL as Marmite on my toast…
…well I ordered an ‘iced coffee’ with sugar-free caramel syrup (and an extra pump)… to which I declared after that maybe it wasn’t the ‘best’ recovery decision to order ‘sugarfree’… but I’d almost done it on auto-pilot. And my friend and I were discussing how it’s still healthy to feel you ‘can’ have sugarfree over the original at times, instead of approaching every food and drink with all-or-nothing thinking. Ideally, to prove commitment to my new ‘recovery mode’ I would have plucked up the courage to have subtracted the ‘sugarfree’ bit, but because I’d not really planned/prepared this drink situation, I think it would have felt too much.
Anyway, usually I would have firmly and bluntly requested ‘black’ iced coffee… but I partly left out this detail to take a bit of a gamble… either they would assume it was black as I didn’t ask for milk… or if they offered me it with milk, it might seem rude to ask them to re-make it and it allows me a little opportunity to try it with milk, without actually having had to ASK for it (which in my head takes the guilt away…)
And, yes… to my part horror but curiosity… it stood loud and proud, an ombre caramel/cream coloured liquid… not the ‘safe’ appearance of a bog-standard brown, straight coffee.
Now if I was on my own right now there is ZERO chance I would have f*cked it, said thank you and sipped the straw… I would have defensively called over a Costa staff member to say “sorry, I meant black…” as if offended for the added calories. Accusing them mentally for wanting to fatten me up. If I was still wearing Anorexia’s ‘friendship’ bracelet, they may as well have spat in my drink. It would cause the same mental uproar…
…instead, STILL enjoying lovely, trusting chit-chat with my new friend from the Unit, I felt a need to declare my thoughts so they were out there, and then I allowed myself to feel quite giddy and excited to try this drink with a new spin… the ombre-effect with the milk at the bottom DID look very pretty after all…
…on my first sip, I could feel my mouth thinking “sh*t!”, the creaminess making my arteries clog up in a millisecond… only to resuscitate my RATIONAL brain, and realise how nice it tasted. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried an iced coffee with milk (partly accidentally)… AND with flavoured syrup… and it was divine.
Although, just to go off on a mini rant for a sec – who needs a bucket of ice? We GET it’s an ‘iced’ coffee, Costa… but you do you really need to turn my innocent cup into an ocean of icebergs to prove that?! If I dared to look hard enough, I’m sure I could have found an Eskimo or a polar bear in there somewhere…
…so then I partly felt guilty for the fact that I’d wished there was more of the actual drink, less ice. Ha!
Anyway, it was such a lovely experience… I’d proven to myself that I could rise above my anxieties (socially and with my Eating Disorder)… that the thoughts would still be there, but there is still something in us that’s stronger, that can overpower fear.
I hope I made it clear enough to the other patient, that it was HER enjoyable company that made me relax enough to feel capable of accepting that ‘extra’ milky drink. She deserves that much credit and of compliment. That suddenly, I knew which thoughts were more important. That my priorities shifted at the flick of a switch, the volume of LIFE playing louder than my Eating Disordered thoughts… to accepting the ‘content’ little moment going on around me…
Starting one ‘fairy light’ moment in the morning… could be enough energy to light up another bulb and another and another… until your day has surprised you with a level of brightness you’d never even planned.