Weetabix x 2.
White toast x 2, butter. (…Marmite on one slice)
Egg mayo sandwich (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
Chicken pesto pasta, stuffed olives, salad.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
you’re very bizarre,
travelling new head-space,
star to star.
that I couldn’t reach,
in Anorexia’s car.
With my brain and body now officially taking the elevator out of starvation mode, my BMI leaving the diagnostic range for ‘Anorexia Nervosa’… I feel more-so than ever, much more aware of this new SPACE. Space in my head that was once filled with busy files, equations, cages, maps and chemicals arranged by my Eating Disorder. Maybe, although screw the maybe, I’m PRETTY sure, my overall ‘being’ – my organs as well as my brain cells, have gathered solid evidence and, finally, TRUST that I’m committed to nourishing it on a regular basis. (109 days of eating ‘full portions’ since pleading with my consultant for one last chance so I didn’t have to be fed on a tube). Nourishing my cravings with all food-types, no exclusions… therefore less chance of my brain being subconsciously pre-occupied by deprivation.
More space. That’s more space for: emotions, thoughts, AND, now my body has enough energy to create them (pink, glittery, party-popper moment) – hormones.
Which is a GREAT thing. This is somehow, what I was hoping to achieve right at the start… …but that doesn’t take away that it’s also mentally terrifying. It’s like the bit of a rocket launch, where, after having put your foot down with driving force just to get off the earth for so long, SUDDENLY, you hit this expansion of black, light air. You’re not having to fight as much gravity any more. You’re just doing it – floating through a whispy sky full of forever-away stars. No map. No rule-book for dealing with emotions. Time and trust in the unknown to experiment with whatever comes your way.
That’s why it’s hard to know how to store, or even put a name sometimes, on my emotions.
My brain can feel like it’s flinging into cartwheels on open patches of fresh grass decorated in daises one minute – then sprinting, terrified of all the open space and clear skies around, hunting down a rabbit-hole it can bury itself in the next. (Although, should it be Peter Rabbit’s home, I’d be quite happy to never come out. Cups of tea and custard creams with himself and Jemima Puddle-Duck would be enough therapy to cure any of life’s muddles. Be it heartbreak, the sprouting of a stray hair on my chin, or my white socks going grey in the wash.)
Conflict and fluctuations between excitement, opportunity and anxiety…
…it was said at my review on Monday, as the staff recognise I’ve been struggling with my emotions and anxieties more-so recently (UNfood-related) that this is the ‘sticking point’. The bit that’s so important to push through. Emotions re-activating. I feel like this is the bit where all the opportunity of the new space in my head, WOULD bring on a magnetic force of temptation if you weren’t 100000% certain this is the right time for your full-recovery… to fill that space with an anxiety that is familiar. The Eating Disorder.
I feel no temptation whatsoever to do that. Which feels strange compared to the past number of relapses, and uncertain hope in recovering. So it’s also incredibly scary… it means, slowly, gradually working myself out, filling that space with new things, that I haven’t understood or given enough chance or faith in before.
But because of this very gradual process… it means I’m probably going to have to spend a LOT of days waking up, feeling inadequate and stuck. Before things feel ‘better’. I can’t just expect my life to come to me and for everything to fall into place when I reach my set-point weight… and even when I commit to a daily, nourishing meal-plan. Choosing to eat many times, all the foods I feel are ‘indulgent’, and knowing that I can still do that, fighting my Eating Disorder, still won’t fix things. It’s the choosing to carry on, through the sticky period of uncertain feelings and empty space, to re-inforce to your Eating Disorder that you don’t need it to cope any more.
It’s a test, but I’m signing up.
Speaking of ‘feeling differently’ and ‘new space’… a positive example of this over the past couple of weeks was my visit to the hairdressers on Saturday. I was kind of dreading it to be honest – for social anxiety/self-esteem reasons more than anything… but I also knew it would give me a boost to have a colour and cut. It’s been a few months since I gave my hair some pamper, so a bit of self-care was probably a good thing.
As well as quite comfortably allowing myself to ‘eat lunch early’ to fit in before my appointment (but silencing the panic of feeling greedy, scared I’d feel ‘out of control’ hungry by the time I left the hairdressers)… just being sat, in my head, in the chair felt different.
90% of my hairdresser appointments over the past few years, I remember being sat there, feeling absolutely exhausted, looking to my face for reassurance that I wasn’t too ‘fat’, little energy to talk… or on some occasions, feeling depressed and ashamed after a binge/purge the night before and just feeling like a pig rolled in dirt wearing rollers. And not wanting to cancel the appointment last minute out of fear of feeling more of a failure than I already did. I then felt embarrassed and pathetic for not chatting enough to the hairdresser – even though I was the one paying them, I still felt like I owed them a personality, which I have never felt quite sure that I’ve had.
THIS time, I was terrified, but confident in my commitment of this self-care thing being a GOOD thing. Of course I was scared of the social side, that pressure to talk and for someone to have to touch me and talk to me for a good chunk of hours. But the very fact it was scary, told me it was a very GOOD thing to be doing…
After swallowing the uncomfortable feeling of the gown hanging over the two bigger hills on my chest, and after swallowing seeing my filling-out face, reminding myself I would have to get used to it… it wasn’t until I realised AFTER the hairdressers, how I’d actually not thought about food once. BEFORE, when restricting my diet (without sometimes truly knowing it), I’d find my thoughts get pulled to re-counting what I’d already eating that day, or planning what time I should start preparing tea – going over the shopping list of food I need or just fighting off the bloody thoughts craving tasty food and knowing I wasn’t allowed it.
I’d forgotten about food. HALLELUJAH!
…I did feel more socially anxious. Super-conscious of my interactions with the hairdressers, and the reactions of people around me in the shop. So this made me realise, how perhaps, my Eating Disorder gave me a distraction from this feeling, before. Perhaps too many times. Worrying about food and craving what I wasn’t feeding myself was a problem much easier to put my finger on, within my silent bubble, instead of this what-felt-like exposed, now I was nourished, situation.
I wasn’t over the moon about my cheeks in the mirror (a personal weak spot for my body image) but I wasn’t desperately searching for reassurance that it wasn’t too ‘fat’. There was a candle of acceptance twinkling at the back of my eyeball. (CHEESE!) It was itching to come out that one, sorry.
Before my Eating Disorder, social anxiety, self-esteem and confidence have been a long-standing issue since I was a little girl. This is what people can confuse sometimes – what came first, the chicken or the egg? Yes, Eating Disorders encourage social anxiety because of the behaviours it gives you, but social anxiety at it’s core, is not simply the RESULT of an Eating Disorder. It can be, also, the ‘chicken’ – a strong, contributing factor for it being started up as a coping mechanism in the first place.
What’s important, is that I learn that it’s okay to feel socially anxious. It’s a sign that I’m recovering from my Eating Disorder, and uncovering what’s truly there. Overcoming an Eating Disorder does NOT mean you bloom into this overall, confident, positively-energetic, social butterfly. It does not mean you suddenly overcome your struggles as a human being. It just means you reveal what’s there underneath and it means you’re ready to be a work-in-progress, WITHOUT your Eating Disorder…
THAT is beautiful.