So I know I’m a lame-o with the blogging right now but things are a little much right now. Not so good at the moment I guess and I’m struggling with my weight and my gain and meal plan as per usual I guess, but also with my mood and my thoughts more generally. Sometimes I’m still fighting this disorder, other times I let it win. Every single meal has become a battle again and quite often I find myself having to literally talk myself through them by repeating things like “I want to be healthy I want to be healthy” if you get me. A lot of things which I have been ignoring are building in my mind and I’m really struggling with myself I guess, making anorexia seem like the easy route out. I guess it is the easy route, but I have to do the hard thing if I want to gain happiness. It’s difficult though because with recovery there are no guarantees, but at least I know what I’ll get through restriction. Restriction is rubbish, really and truly, but it isn’t as horrible as it is now. My weight increased, though by miles less than I thought it had which is good (only 0.8kg in 11 days, unlike the 2 kg I thought it was) and I still haven’t passed the weight I’m most uncomfortably getting to, but it’s very very close now. It’s not even healthy though, so I have to get past it by like a stone and a half which is still loads of weight. So yer, there’s a lot of build up at the moment and I’m struggling and not hitting my calorie targets (though not into starvation calories so don’t worry). I am trying though, at least most of the time. I just don’t know what to do about the noise in my head.
On a practical level, there are a lot of difficulties right now too. I struggle to eat my meals at the right times – pushing them back as far as possible. I wake up at 8am, then keep just putting off breakfast till 11am when I suddenly think “This is ridiculous Ellie!”, but by that point everything is late so I either miss out on snacks or end up with my last snack after midnight, which means I’m not hungry when I wake up. The cycle continues. And also, it really stresses me as I never know the right time to eat things and I haven’t got solid routines so I don’t know whats coming and when, which makes me focus on my eating more and leads to panic. Not so good. Any tips and advice on how to break this cycle would be really good right now.
On top of this, I have problems meeting my calorie targets for each meal. I really like my own cooking and I think I’m alright at it and my food is good. The problem is that before my eating disorder, I was a really selective eater and didn’t eat many things at all (literally, I had like 5 meals I would eat and that was it, and the same lunch every day for my entire life) and although I now eat a wide variety of foods and am totally up for trying new things, everything I’ve learnt to cook is extremely low-calorie. Basically, all the nice food I’m good at cooking comes in at under 200kcals per meal and although I’m managing to push it up to 250kcals, they are already so bulky and filling that it gets hard to make the calories up. I am just a master of packing as much volume into as smaller amount of calories as possible. Even with cakes. I genuinely think I could write a really good diet cookbook, but anyways – this really isn’t useful for me right now. This in turn only adds to the problems of the late night snack as it ends up being huge, making me full and bloated in bed. One of the problems is that I have a real problem adding fats to meals. I can eat fats, but only when they are intrinsic to the food (like with nuts). It I have to add fats like butter or oil, I really struggle. I mean, I literally still freak over half a tsp of olive oil and that’s meant to be ‘healthy’. I also shy away from high calorie food choices as I will never eat cheese (obvs.), struggle with meat, hate processed food and have never really tried a lot of higher calorie, interesting foods. Basically, I exist on veggies, pulses, grains and tofu. And I still find myself always picking the lowest calorie options of similar foods (for instance, I only buy noodles at Marks & Spencer as they are only 80cals per serving which is less than half that of other brands). Essentially, I am completely terrible at high calorie cooking. It’s entirely stupid I know. Any ideas on how to add more calories to meals in a not too frightening way? Or how to get used to adding fats?
Fear foods are becoming more and more problematic again. I have marginally less fear foods, but the only ones I’m not scared of anymore are healthy as well as high calorie (such as nuts and dried fruit). I had so much guilt around a chocolate bar recently that I’ve sworn off them for life (though I hope maybe one day to take that back, so maybe not for life). I still cannot manage potatoes at all. It’s been so long since I’ve had a potato I’m not even sure if I like them. And you know what? I would seriously love to be able to eat fish and chips or thai take away, but just can’t and it makes me sad. So my list of fear foods seems to be getting harder to break again and I’m sticking to my safer options again. Branching out is a little too much for me right now, so it’s a lot of soup, stir fries and all-bran. I really like these foods, but right now I’m not comfortable with variety. Again, any advice on how to approach this in a manageable way would be good.
I still have difficulties with exercise and literally have to at least walk for about 45 mins every day. I find reasons to, but it is compulsive. I cannot sit down on the tube or bus and I have to walk up escalators. I still leave things around the house so I can go back and forth getting things so I walk a little more. Ergh. I don’t even know how to approach this. I have cut down on exercise so much and at least now it doesn’t take up hours of my day but my attitudes still aren’t healthy and I know it.
And there are so many other practical things. Worrying about people touching my foods as they might contaminate it with calories, worrying that cooking utensils aren’t clean enough and will therefore contaminate my foods, worrying that people deliberately try to sneak more calories into my diet, having to use small cutlery so I can’t be greedy and take big mouthfuls, having to weigh all my foods out (even fruit), being a complete calorie nazi (I still count calories in tea for God’s sake), never eating foods with unknown calories, always being a little under on servings so I don’t over do it, planning meals days, sometimes weeks, in advance, weighing myself multiple times a day, constant body checking, taking my measurements every day etc. I could carry on but it’s kind of depressing. What’s worse is that I’m only just starting to see that these behaviours are not normal and fine, but actually seriously not ok. I haven’t tried to justify them before and now I finally am, I’m realising just how wrong all of this is. Just how disordered my whole entire world has become. Eating disorders are nasty – they creep in everywhere and you don’t even notice them.
And all of this is just the practical anorexic tendencies. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the thoughts and feelings anorexia gives these activities and the rest of my life. But then there’s all the other stuff too, the ways in which I perceive myself more generally and how I interact with the world, which I’m not comfy going in to. I’m my own worst critic and it can be pretty crippling.
So yer, basically I might well be gaining weight and on some level improving, but in reality I’m still a mental disaster zone. Not so good. At this moment in time I’m really struggling to just keep from drowning in the mess of it all. I’m finally beginning to feel like this is actually seriously not ok. This isn’t something I can just wake up and get over at will, it’s a really serious mental health issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking that for others, it might be really bad, but I’m just a fraud and it really isn’t that bad and I am totally normal and fine. Thing is though – it’s really not.
Lots to think about right now I guess, and it’s getting really hard to cope with it all. The therapist is trying to organise a community psychiatric nurse for me I think. Basically, I think that’d be someone coming to my house and helping me with my meals and things, and talking to me about how I’m doing, monitoring my mental state and things. I don’t really know. And also possibly upping my therapy sessions to twice a week. The other possibility at this moment is day-patient, which would mean going into hospital every day from morning to evening – it involves lots of group therapy, individual therapy and obviously supported meal times. I don’t want that option as it’d mean I couldn’t go to uni, so I’m hoping some of the other stuff works out. The bad thing is that just as I really start to struggle again and start letting my calories drop, the dietician has leave, so I’ve got no weigh-in for a few weeks so no accountability. I honestly don’t know where this will lead, but I am hopeful that my weight won’t drop (even though a massive part of me wants to take this opportunity and lose as much as possible). Hopefully I can keep myself healthy. We’ll see I guess.
I have been doing some motivational arts and crafts though. I now have lots of posters and stuff stuck around my room to try to keep me positive. It’s good because I can make all the stuff whilst listening to book tapes (I loved Brideshead Revisited and now I’m on to Anansi Boys). Also, the boy has been entirely great. I cannot stress enough how much help he’s being and how supportive he is. I know that in general, boys are rubbish, but right now he is being aces. Lots of hugs and kind words and motivational frustration and helping me with panic. And sometimes, though still not very often as I struggle with this, friends are good too. Helpful phone conversations in difficult times with lots of listening, distraction and kind words which is good. I’m reaching out a little bit (always with the baby steps) and it’s not too awful. I even went to the old housemate’s house and chatted with her for a long time and it was really nice to catch up, plus really nice to see someone, though pretty stressful. At the moment, people and pritt stick seem to be pretty great, though which is best, I don’t know.
University is hard though. Really really hard. I can’t concentrate on much for long and I’m really falling behind. I have to start work on an essay soon but am really finding it difficult. I find reading hard in general (even watching TV is difficult right now as I just can’t focus) so it takes like a day to read one article. I had to talk to my lecturer about falling behind and getting extensions, which of course led to a panic attack and me feeling like a failure. I love my course so much (MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics for those of you that might now know) and my unit this term is Critical Voices in Development which is basically taking an anthropological approach to various contradictions, issues and implications to various development projects and ideas around the world. It’s so interesting yet I can’t seem to get my head into the right space. Shouldn’t I concentrate more now I’m eating over 600kcals a day? I don’t know why I can’t do this right now. Still, keep ploughing through and hope I don’t fail too hard.
The saddest news though is Jelly (my dog). She’s 16 now and getting really old. She likes to stand with her head in corners because she can’t see very far and it makes her more secure I guess. She struggles with walking now and is getting really thin. She’s really not well and has liver cancer says the vet. She’ll be 17 really soon, but she’s definitely on her last legs and looks like she’s suffering. It’s down to the Dad to make the final decisions about her, but it’s sad. We have to carry her in and out the garden now because she can’t manage the steps. It is very very sad.
So there you go people – general updates on my life right now. It’s not very interesting but I thought I’d let you know. I will reply to comments and check on people’s blogs really soon, I’ve just been kind of out of this world recently, but it’s late now and I should try to sleep (insomnia is a bitch). For the home peeps out there, lemme know how things are with you and update me too please. I’m missing a lot of people right now. And any tips and advice would be really great. The recovery process really isn’t what I expected.