(doodle from lunch!)
White toast x 2. (…one slice with butter, one with cashew butter)
Pork and apple casserole, mashed potato, mashed swede.
Jam and coconut sponge, custard.
Tuna mayo, jacket potato, butter, 5-bean salad, side salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Over the past couple of days, more than ever, I feel as though someone’s snatched my huge, spongey pair of headphones, stomped on them… and thrown them into the road.
The ones my low BMI and food-distracted thoughts had clung on to, drowning out the other brain mess going on.
Misshapen, unusable, gone. (probs picked up by a dribbling puppy and his owner for a game of ‘fetch’ on the way to the park)
As the line on my weight-chart goes up and up, creating a steeper, rising hill towards physical health (we’re now talking a strong-legged hike, a super-speedy teddy-bear roll from the top compared to the steady stroll up my weight-gain was a few weeks ago)…
…and, most importantly, now that I’m MENTALLY choosing to run away as far and fast away as I can from my familiar Anorexic pre-occupation WITHOUT letting my uncomfortable thoughts and emotions sabotage that… (turning up to every meal and snack, even after the scales flashing up my good chunk of weight-gain, choosing and eating those more fearful and enjoyable foods daily – INSTEAD of as a rare novelty)…
…as soon as that music stops (the reassurance of a smaller body not taking up too much space when I feel worthless or inadequate, the preoccupation of feeding my inner ‘Wheeto’s’ man (see last post) constant calorie sums and irrational equations through the day in his science lab, the control of giving my taste-buds SCHEDULED things to look forward to in a measured way to keep the rest of my daily tasks motivated, instead of the constant flow of food and flavour day-to-day, week-to-week)… the more confusing my place in the world feels. The less I know how to cope with my anxieties.
My eardrums are now paying for it.
I can hear the heavy metal of my thoughts and personal weaknesses clanging – smashing drums and the piercing static of an electric guitar… after so long of not being aware of JUST how much the headphones of Anorexia drowned out. Social anxiety the main instrument, low self-esteem blasting out alongside.
…it took me a while to put into words how I actually feel, because I’ve been stumped at knowing how to express myself since yesterday. Trapped and voiceless. But the headphone thing so far sums it up. Being wrapped up in an Eating Disorder is perhaps EASIER to explain than all these thoughts I wasn’t quite prepared for during recovery…
…like, there’s something to visually see you can justify HAVING to explain to people, looking the way you do, making the food choices you choose, carrying out the behaviours you have.
Whereas how can you explain the invisible but equally suffocating mental health stuff?
I started off the Monday, fresh-minded, ‘positive pants’ firmly on as they say (well, elasticated black briefs to be fair… Anorexia stripped me of any desire to be womanly in that area! I’ve decided to reward myself with a nice bit of feminine lingerie when I reach a healthy weight and more womanly figure! My sister is a pro at that shiz, so I shall be dragging her along for the shop…)
…even after a bit of a corkin’ 1.4kg weight-gain since Thursday (already the higher end of the weekly target range) but I was DETERMINED to power-through and remembered, note to self: my self-worth is NOT linked to the physical size of me. Self-confidence, self-belief and having ambitions for other things is much more beautiful. I spot that in other people, so surely that’s something I can work on conjuring up in myself?
Now that I’m letting go of the false sense of confidence and certainty that Anorexia provided me through those spongey, protective headphones, I’m REALLY having to knuckle down finding my own real confidence and create my safer, very OWN soundtrack. But I’m starting to notice that as much as I can try, pushing myself to be more talkative during breakfast time (despite my thoughts convincing me no-one will want to listen) and sometimes surprising myself by relaxing into and enjoying it… from then on, through the day, it starts to feel harder and harder as my head seems to uncover every bit of evidence to prove the negative noise going on in my head – that I’m daft for bothering, I’m awkward to be around, I’m not as worthy as other people, my voice sounds stupid, confidence doesn’t suit me, who am I to talk, I will always be the outsider, I don’t have a value or a purpose and I may as well be invisible.
I know what’s driving my thought patterns and I can’t seem to snap out of it. Even after I’m able to rationalise the situation. I can have a ‘fresh’ start, I’ve had numerous, but the automatic, ingrained thoughts come flushing back… the constant worry of what people will think of me, how my voice might come out, but mainly how I will feel in a group situation – how I might lose my value, become inferior and be rejected. The weird thing is, when I’m talking to people, I really enjoy it, more particularly on a 1:1 basis. But the thoughts up until doing that thing are very controlling and convincing that it becomes easier to withdraw to protect myself… I’m finding I have to move away from the noise instead of expose myself to it now I’ve lost my ‘Anorexic headphones’.
And the bit that makes no sense is that I desperately crave to speak to people, to connect with people, because I know ultimately that I enjoy it. As much as we can convince ourselves we are fiercely independent, no-one enjoys their own company for 90% of their lives. Groups of people, for me, in spontaneous situations are about on the same level as someone with a phobia of spiders. I’m growing a bit more confidence with structured ‘group’ situations where we are expected to contribute, but putting myself into social situations where I have to say to myself I am worthy enough, and people will want to be around me and listen to me, is confusing and terrifying. There’s been times recently on the ward, where I’ve wanted to tip-toe and challenge this, but when groups are already formed and people already have their places, the fear of intruding and not having a place overtakes the hope of that happening.
…I knew, that with weight restoration, things would feel harder. The stuff my Eating Disorder was keeping a lid on, would wriggle out. My brain would be less starved and therefore less numb.
And now, maybe, as this is the highest weight I’ve been for a long time now… creeping into the BMI of the 17’s and almost out of the diagnostic ‘Anorexic’ range… I just didn’t realise how much social anxiety was an issue for me. And what I’m finding interesting is that there is quite a big difference between that and shyness… genuinely wanting to speak to people but feeling like I can’t, is different to not really feeling like I want to say anything or get involved. And not being over-concerned about it.
So in how this all relates to my Eating Disorder… it feels as though Michael McIntyre or Keith Lemon is stood in the wings filming a documentary, the whole world exposing me and having a laugh… the fact I am feeling all these difficult, inadequate feelings yet STILL feeding myself foods that I enjoy. Like telling myself it’s OKAY to feel these things and still eat nice-tasting food.
It’s confusing. Guilt-flooding. And it still makes me feel very shameful. I’m finding that particularly when I’ve had a less confident, or more isolated day, the shame when it comes to food is amplified, and they’re the times I need my headphones most.
The point is, THIS time as I waddle on (excuse the pun) towards a FULL recovery, I am continuing to eat plenty of enjoyable foods, EVEN when my self-esteem has plummeted that day… to re-train my brain to ACCEPT that it’s no more indulgent to enjoy the taste of food HOWEVER you’re feeling that day.
And I’m off now, to do just that… to eat my supper of a chunky chocolate brownie, which is on the highest rank of my ‘challenging snacks’ hierarchy. DESPITE feeling alone. DESPITE after a snot-wiped-on-a-cardigan-sleeve kind of day. DESPITE not quite knowing my place in the world. DESPITE not having a clue how my future looks. DESPITE feeling like an outsider. DESPITE wondering how the h*ll people are supposed to juggle life, whilst still being successful, confident, healthy, social and all that jazz.
But we crack on in hope.
There is no right way to be, no right way to feel …to deserve the taste of a chocolate brownie!