White toast x 2, butter.
Breaded haddock, chipped potatoes, mushy peas.
Tuna mayo sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
I’m writing this after having experienced the first of the BEST idea for a group I’ve ever heard of… ‘Café group’…
…basically, a cracking excuse to have a chin-wag and a cuppa and call it therapy. Which in all serious-ness, actually is. (it helps to promote a normal kind of social situation during treatment, for me personally – to challenge social anxiety, and for some of us being on ‘afternoon snack’, the flexibility of eating in different, uncertain settings…)
Let’s face it – who doesn’t feel a spring in their step, a sparkle on their brain, after being reminded they’re STILL capable of laughing?! EVEN in this what can sometimes feel like, forever clumsy juggle of life? Huddled around a table, holding paper cups, talking about things that are a bit daft. Being around people that give your spirits an umph. (I found myself today asking “What is this happy-jiggle my brain is experiencing? Please introduce yourself…”)
A little luxury of this café venture, was the fact the ‘group’ time out doesn’t deduct from our weekly ‘leave allowance’ of 3 hours per week; the juicy glace cherry on top! Discovering this gave me tingles similar to finding a hidden fiver in an old purse after counting the remaining copper pennies of my pocket money.
One of the BEST things about being in this situation in hospital, is being a fly on the wall to the other girls’ recovery journeys… noticing the very SMALLEST of steps they’re taking to fight their Eating Disorders. Anything from seeing someone choose a different cereal one morning after weeks of sticking to their safe #1… to picking up a spontaneous piece of fruit… to being in the same dining room with someone facing their first meal of solid foods after having their NG tube removed… to the most simplest but amazing things of seeing someone who has been suffering the same mental bully as you, smile more.
You obviously don’t want to shine a fluorescent spotlight on them for these small personal achievements, in case Anorexia decides to take this as a threat and then inflict a mental punishment… but there’s been many a time, especially recently, where I’ve felt my brain grow invisible Mr-Stretch arms across the table to give them a hug.
It’s a joyful, big f*ck you feeling to notice these small things… which then turns to pride… which then becomes a ping-pong ball of inspiration bouncing from both my ears to my toes. It reassures my decision for flying my full-recovery kite…
…that said, I’m finding it quite difficult recently to separate or suss out ambition/excitement with over-indulgence/self-doubt. I think this has come with this week’s introduction to self-catering… which means daring to make foodie decisions off my own back, trusting my own voice, and cutting the apron strings a little with the familiar, consistently-structured hospital menu.
Yesterday, after shopping for the ingredients for the first time on my own (bit of a frantic, wobbly spree around Asda – I’ve decided it’s best next time to go with more of a ‘set’ shopping list, rather than a ‘vague’ idea… because the excitement I guess, and the overwhelming amount of choices now open to me during my divorce to Anorexia is otherwise distracting, and makes decisions down the aisles, a bloody mind-boggle)… I bashed together this (also reassured there was no-one else using the therapy kitchen at the time which is also a worry of mine – combining socialising and food, gives rise to a terrifying out-of-control feeling which I have hope will ease up with time):
Chunky chicken breast on a fresh, crusty ciabatta roll, smothered with a layer of softened avocado… a handful of almonds and a side-salad of mixed leaves, grated carrot and pickled baby beetroot… with a splash of sweet chilli sauce.
If I speak for my taste-buds – they’d like me to pass on that it tasted bloody LOVELY, as you really can’t beat fresh bread. But as expected, lots of guilt crept up, and that’s the bit that didn’t taste nice. I’d planned to buy bagels (but as they were out of stock of the cheapest ones, I felt guilty for spending more money so opted for the ciabatta roll for 25p, which I highlighted was a challenging choice at my last supermarket visit with the OT – so that was a decent compromise) I also hadn’t realised how anxious I would be actually waiting at the table in the dining room, about how I’d compare my self-made meal, compared to the reassured meals of the other patients around me that I had become used to relying on myself.
This guilt, in front of me, on my plate, was made by me. Not something that was ‘expected’ or routinely monitored by staff. That’s when I started over-thinking… did I REALLY need to choose a ciabatta roll when I could have chosen a ‘safer’ X, Y or Z… did I REALLY need to ADD sauce to my salad… WHY did I decide to eat beetroot (something I miss and love) with my salad when I could have just settled with leaves? I even picked up a fromage frais yoghurt at the shop that used to be one of my faves, the part I love about it – the packaging doesn’t give the nutritional information, so there’s less temptation for my Eating Disorder to find evidence that it was ‘wrong’.
But how much is it RIGHT to enjoy all these things at once that I’ve DECIDED to put into my body for MYSELF? I recognise that this was my Eating Disorder trying to claw me back in and doubt listening to my own cravings and fancies… soulful decisions that arrived from curiosity, rather than fear and ‘rules’… but there’s still part of me that realises it’s going to take practice to start to trust myself again.
I lived to tell the tale… and I felt like I’d been to meet an old-friend getting off a plane, when I tasted that silky, softened avocado…