Weetabix x 2. (with semi-skimmed milk)
Sea-salt and balsamic vinegar flavoured ‘Kettle’ crisps.
BBQ pulled pork wholemeal wrap, with lettuce, mayo and BBQ sauce.
Mixed salad with pumpkin seeds.
Coconut flavoured ‘Trek’ flapjack.
Quorn chicken korma, brown rice and mixed vegetables.
Cherry yoghurt with frozen blueberries and chopped pear.
Chocolate bar. (!!!)
(not yet eaten – will be a ‘Time Out’/’Dairy Milk’/’Twirl’/dark chocolate ‘Bounty’)
(I panicked and bought the whole bloody lot, read below…)
The one very LAST thing you want to do, when you’re in a horrible cycle of binging and purging, (as the fear and shame grows and grows like a hungry sunflower around certain foods – especially those that feel a ‘treat’ but are just as important to a general, everyday diet – AKA chocolate)… is to EAT those things during your normal day. For the first time, since my inpatient admission until October, I’m doing it today.
This very last thing you want to do, turns out is the most important thing you MUST do to overcome any kind of Eating Disorder. If you’re going to take control back of your own life and not be played like a puppet by food every day. At this moment in time, it’s what I need to do to overcome Bulimia.
I’ve not eaten a chocolate bar, apart from when it’s been during a compulsive session in which I intend to be sick – since hospital, when it was in a controlled environment and that I was constantly around the reassurance of an Eating Disorder-specialised team of staff, including dieticians that we met with weekly. My intentions, since then, have not been to eat chocolate as part of my energy bank for the day, or to enjoy it… but purely driven my some impulsive, unhelpful self-harming reaction to my thoughts and feelings through which I crave the relief of being sick.
Today, since my new commitment during Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and fundraising project so that I can help myself as well as raise awareness, I recognise that this will be a huge step for me. I need to rely on and trust myself to be able to eat chocolate. I didn’t expect to have this plan of action, until my therapy appointment today. I shared how, when it comes to main meals and breakfast, I can usually confidently meal-plan them. But when it comes to planning ‘substantial’ snacks/puddings/supper… I avoid it, because I don’t trust my decisions, so often just wing it until the evening, which isn’t ideal for working at recovery. And then, in the moment I end up picking something ‘safe’ which isn’t substantial, and emphasises a list of invisible foods to avoid, and therefore psychologically as well as physically – enlarges the cravings and deprivation for those foods.
Anyway, the result of that chat was very productive, and it really helped just having reassurance from a real voice about what to plan in for the times that I have lost confidence in. Slightly terrifyingly, I decided with her help to alternate my supper snack between chocolate and a ‘safer’ but still substantial option of a toasted teacake. There’s part of me that is still scared about eating ‘dense’ foods before going to bed – which is irrational and silly, because if I don’t eat these foods, it’s more than likely going to add to additional triggers of a binge-and-purge, which does of course only leave me eating and not enjoying more food only to waste and get rid of. And yes, it’s true, that although you convince yourself you have ‘got rid’ of everything, scientific evidence says you don’t. It’s an awful truth for anyone that has binged-and-purged. Even when you’re physically and emotionally exhausted…
…this evening, I’ve been out and bought multipacks of individual chocolate bars (I’m scared to buy the bigger bars even though they’re often cheaper) and a ‘fruit loaf’ (nearest thing to teacakes which the shops didn’t have in). And I’m starting tonight.
In the panic of not being used to buying chocolate bars to keep down and use as part of my day’s energy bank, I could not for the life of me make a decision which would feel ‘safer’ but then which I actually would ‘fancy’ in that moment. So I bought a few packs, so that I could decide later. Anyway, with my new commitment to eating and accepting chocolate, this stash would come in handy for the upcoming future, so it’s all good!
I know it sounds as daft as a drunk little dandelion, but it looks extremely weird to see chocolate in my fridge. Like it is accepted into my fridge gang. Usually it is shoved or hidden out of sight in a drawer somewhere, because to look at makes me feel ashamed and scared of my impulses towards it.
So I am still yet to twiddle my thumbs and select the ‘chosen’ choccie lad from my fridge after posting this.
I was going to start this post right here, before explaining the choccie situation –
Ijust wanted to share with you something I’ve learnt for myself the past few days. I suppose it comes as a result of starting to feel emotions ‘good ‘n’ proper’, after so long of numbing them out with Anorexia, or generally depriving myself of certain foods:
“Crying is essential to emotional survival. And good mental health.” – Yaz, 2k18.
Now that my Bulimia has taken centre stage and has made a delightful appearance, shimmying on in full make-up and a pink feather boa (like it thinks it’s some kind of can-can girl in my life)… I think the impulsivity of that is driven by basically the absolute terror of what to do with these emotions that are no longer numbed by starvation or mental food-preoccupation. My compulsions to pop to the shop in my pyjamas after feeling so adamant binging and purging ‘will never happen again’ (naïve little old me) feel like a reaction that says it’s ‘shutting up shop for today’ kind of thing and is my brain’s way of panicking at a whole tidal wave of human emotion. It kids me into thinking I can never possibly cope with my brain cells in the evening and thinks I won’t survive if I don’t act on my impulses.
That, and if I’m not allowing myself certain foods, or restricting because of the ‘night before’ is a boring, but vicious cycle of self-destruction.
Food, over the years, in whichever form, has become my ‘clutch’ to driving a car. You don’t think about how to lower your foot to the floor every time you press it. It feels very subconsciously driven which is quite scary… but even starting to write this blog again, and by sharing my story and raising awareness of Bulimia (little out there) is dampening that subconscious power and bringing it to the surface so that I can face what I’m feeling and judge the consequences of my actions.
Yesterday, I cried very much. Before that, I’d woken up with that usual hangover feeling of a late night binge and purge (and here is where I stress how much of a heroin addict it makes you feel)… I was so close to cancelling seeing a friend in the morning that I had already let down numerous times – whether because of this particular night-before event, or the overdoses. Either way, letting her down was a result of my self-sabotage.
But luckily, the guilt of letting her down yet again, felt more threatening than the shame to go out and put others through the hell of having to see me. After I cried and got myself together, cleaned the toilet as usual, cleaned the wrappers of shame away… something lifted.
I haven’t cried very often in a long time. In fact, not properly since Leeds – when I was conquering my Anorexia, so the feelings were flowing, but I couldn’t act in a harmful way on the ward because the environment was controlled and I was committed.
The time before yesterday that I HAD cried, was the last time I took a large Paracetemol overdose a couple of weeks ago. Crying was suddenly a shock and my brain didn’t know what to do with that emotion – I couldn’t stop, and suddenly I felt so scared and unable to cope. Of course, this wasn’t helped by the night-before binge and purge of course.
But yesterday, not reacting impulsively meant I cried and let myself feel it. Which was alien. E.T. style.
Honestly? Afterwards, when that gushing sinking of the stomach feeling had gone, something had lifted. I suddenly felt revived and a bit more capable and hopeful. Instead of feeling like a hungry sunflower of shame, I felt like one that had been watered.
Cheesy as chuff, that was – sorry! But since then I’ve been realising that for so long I’ve been blocking emotions out in so many ways without really knowing it, that maybe crying , and being true to what I’m feeling, letting myself be vulnerable – is key to not just recovery, but mental health survival through all sorts of bits in life itself.
This has given me hope. It’s horrible to cry, it’s uncomfortable and crippling at times – but I genuinely believe it’s what we need to shake ourselves off, and clear the fog.
Lastly I just want to state this, because I am being as honest as I can be in order to help myself. After launching my fundraising page last night, I had great intentions to commit to not binging and purging right there and then. But unfortunately, that black cloud took over like some kind of dementor. But, it’s not all bad news… I had restricted quite a lot, missing out breakfast and snacks due to my hangover feeling, and deflation/lack of hope and the fear of that shame… so of course, I’d set myself up to fail.
If you’re struggling to conquer the psychological triggers to binge-and-purge, through recovery you really, really have to try so hard to knuckle down those physiological/biological needs… AKA eating 3 meals and snacks a day (not restricting)… again, as I said in my first paragraph, sometimes it’s the very last thing you want to do when you feel like you’ve spent hours of the night scoffing your face only for it to be forced back out of you – it’s terrifying. But it’s what needs to be done for true recovery to happen.
So I DID rationalise that with myself, and thought today is the day Eating Disorder Awareness Week really starts anyway, and if I want to do this I need to start with breakfast, and everything that follows.
Including my chocolate bar very, very soon…
…I’m praying to Eva Cassidy in the sky right now (I’ve just been listening to her so it’s the first person that popped into my head so sorry for randomness), that I can do this and wake up tomorrow with an amazing relief, not from being sick, but from the fact that I was NOT sick, and I fulfilled my body’s needs and tolerated any thoughts and emotions to come.
I can do thissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. (“can I??”) Yessssss, stop it and get on with it!
Now, which chocolate bar to pick…