Coconut and raisin ‘Weetabix’ x 2 (with semi-skimmed milk).
Egg mayo sandwich (on sunflower seed rye bread).
Mixed salad with caramelised onion chutney.
Mixed dried fruit and nuts.
Quorn chicken korma, mixed veg, boiled potatoes.
Chopped pear with cherry yoghurt, jelly and pumpkin seeds.
Dark chocolate ‘Bounty’.
This post is dedicated to Claire.
I’m afraid to start typing, because I’m afraid to start crying. To be fully alert of how I’m feeling, after the lingering of some tragic news today, coincidentally related to Eating Disorder Week we are now in. And reading many others’ reactions to this news, to see and feel their pain too, is also crushing.
But I have to remind myself, as though I’d remind you, of what came to the surface the other day, when I realise what my relationship with food often does to me – it numbs out the bad stuff, but also the good stuff. So you’re floating on nothing-ness. To face the uncomfortable stuff, means you’re more likely to feel joy from the other stuff. So here, I repeat this:
What’s stuck with me since the other day, is something my trusty care-co-ordinator said. She hasn’t had an easy ride the past few years, and that’s evident, but her resilience and commitment to getting on, and still shining a smile… is admirable, yet it’s a trait and an attitude that I aspire for, and that might benefit us all:
“I want to experience everything life has to offer – so I will take the rough with the smooth!”
Then my head, in it’s usual quirky way started turning this in-and-out, up-and-down into a metaphor that I could picture and make it feel louder, and more real. I thought to myself, hmmmm, yes – what’s a cheesecake without a crumbly digestive base? !
A good combo of the rough and smooth applies across all areas of life. You need the blow of difficult emotions, to heighten the ones that make you laugh, get giddy, or even just to feel that genuine content smile that is quite rare, or a nice squeeze from someone you love. And everything else that makes your heart tick!
You can’t appreciate all the nice stuff unless you’re prepared to take the prods, the pokes and the sometimes that bastard sitting-on-stinging-nettle feeling…
…I can feel myself dither, procrastinate from the serious point I wanted to make, and bring to light. No more playing with words Yasmin – get to the point and feel that wind.
Okay. So a young woman lost her fight today. She wasn’t any young woman, she was only 25, she was called Claire and she was diagnosed with both Anorexia and a Personality Disorder.
She lost the fight with her mind, her own mental health. I first followed her on social media a few years back, and I know she gathered quite a large following due to her own sharing of experiences when she was in a more stable place, and her campaigning to raise awareness of mental health, especially Eating Disorders.
I remember being quite ‘wowed’ at her balls to get out there, to face the anxiety of getting her voice heard and using her experiences for such a positive result. I think it’s what kept her going. She also had a talent for writing, and writing seemed to help her hugely.
That’s one thing today, I feel immediately motivated by. Being sucked into a mind consumed by a daily battle with yourself, with any mental health problem, often takes away your voice. I don’t know if it’s a thing about when thoughts get more painful and enlarged through recovery, it’s too hard to face the feelings, and it’s too overwhelming to even begin to try and make sense of anything going on in your head… that words are just splutters of line on a page. They look like nothing, they don’t make sense, which then makes you doubt any sense the whole world even has. To the extent that you don’t want to be here because you don’t know how to ‘be’ or ‘think’ in your own body, your own brain anymore. And then the more you pull away, the harder it is to get writing or talking about your feelings again.
Which is why, this is the right thing to do. I’m remembering how well Claire projected herself, and how it helped keep her afloat, so that is what I am doing.
From this morning, I could feel the dread building, for facing my own words tonight, right now – even though, I knew I really wanted to. And that part of me loves doing it. But part of me was trying to reject that ‘crumbly base’. I very almost made a cheesecake with just the cheese.
But now you and I are looking at some kind of buttery, crumbly bottom.
Oh my god, I need to stop getting too ditsy playing with words and avoiding the harder stuff…
…Claire, I never met her in person. But she had become so prolific, within the support network of people suffering, because people listened to her voice, read her thoughts and related. The saddest part, to me, is that she passed away in a mental health unit. One that she felt lost in anyway, and had a bad reputation with the safety and wellbeing of patients anyway, according to friends.
But Claire, even though I saw her struggles, the odd post up until recently in which she clearly was screaming out, towards the end of her life, within only a few words and a picture, compared to the paragraphs in the past… you just never, for some reason you just NEVER expect them to go, to one day not be there.
It’s absolutely crushing. Knowing that someone who has experienced things so, so close to your heart and your most painful brain-cells, just couldn’t prolong the pain anymore. That they had to put it to an end. This is why you literally can’t take what you see on social media, people’s shared struggles, and especially their ‘appeared’ state of wellness and fill in the gaps yourself. I’m guilty for seeing this kind of thing and subconsciously thinking “they’re clearly going through hell, but surely they will keep going”… you simply can’t judge.
Part of me finds it all so scary, that I’ve had very similar thoughts, but eventually have always scraped some kind of hope at the bottom of the bucket for myself. But how much is left?
My headlights are on the road ahead, don’t get me wrong. I feel committed, and shit (I’d be worried if I didn’t feel shit, because no discomfort to me feels like I’m not making progress), but I feel in a place that I’m not letting things get the better of me.
Yes I felt very disappointed last night, because despite a positive routine to the day, my commitment to the meal-plan, I was still psychologically seduced to binge and purge, and yes I feel INCREDIBLY frustrated at why I still feel compelled to do this – when I’m not hungry, or craving taste, or any other reason you’d normally want to eat food.
All I can pick from that urge, is the terror of going to bed and feeling overwhelmed by this world, and this stupid compulsion to controlling feeling full and then empty again before allowing myself to fall asleep.
In this moment right now, I don’t feel in myself that it’s going to happen tonight. Every day this week has felt more hopeful now that I’m facing my feelings and challenging new aspects of my decisions around my meal-plan, and my attempts to delay urges.
I don’t know what I’m doing, but then, do any of us know what we’re doing? We’re all just doing what we think is our best at any given moment at the end of the day.
On an extra note, if you want a bit of a boost for yourself, I’ve got a little video to share with you. When I was at my last hospital admission in Leeds, I grew a thing for watching a ‘Ted Talk’ a day on YouTube. They are empowering talks by people through all walks of life that bring something to share… and just recently I’ve enjoyed watching one a day, whilst eating lunch or tea. And I genuinely find it so useful and motivating. You just have to find the right ones for you, that you can resonate with, as some of them are about specific random topics that just glide over your head like an ice-skating goose! (not a clue where that saying came from, sorry… me and my drunkenly creative brain…)
This is the one today. I really did love it!
Be the captain of your own ship and all that jazz…
And on the final note, Rest In Peace, Claire. Being Eating Disorder Awareness Week, any sufferers, their families, friends, and to the rest of the world – we can use this tragedy as a reason to fight harder, to push and push for early intervention. Early treatment lessens the agony of an extended length of time being at war with your own mind, which for some in the end becomes just too much.
Seeking help sooner, could literally save lives.
If you would like to donate just a fiver towards my fundraising project for Beat this week, you can on the following link:
Do it for reasons like Claire. We’re now at £320 out of £500 which is absolutely AMAZING, thank you so much to everyone that has contributed…