updates.

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under general, life, recovery, university

8 responses to “updates.

  1. seriously. you are ME! all of these struggles are ones that i face everyday too… like spot on. i hate it.
    im trying so hard to crack these bad habits and somedays i really think i can do it… then something silly will happen or ill just feel extra bloated or full or something and it throws me back ten paces. It is an ongoing battle… all i can say is that the more you push yourself, the less scary it feels. I say that (feeling a little bit guilty) cos it is something i am finding hard to do. why does it always feel easier to go back to the “easy” ways of ED, when actually all that does it make it harder to get back onto the “right” way?!
    Good luck hun, hang in there xx

    • I know it’s ridiculous. So many similarities constantly! It’s kinda weird but nice that I’m not the only one, but it is awful. I know what you mean though – like you wake up so sure that today will be the day, and then something comes up and you just start getting so uncomfortable until you cave. I know I need to push myself, but I feel like there are just so many directions I need to push in that I can’t go all ways at once. ED always makes it harder – now my calories have dropped it is so hard to up them again. Ergh. Stupid stupid stupid.
      Thank you though!

  2. I would love to be able to give you some perfect advice, and click my fingers and make it all better but I can’t. I am in exactly the same boat, all your thought processes, irrational fears, difficulties with fats, lack of concentration…they’re all me, so all I can do is empathise. Not much good to you I know.

    The exercise thing, you can use your Arts & Crafts and music to take your mind off it. If you feel guilty for not doing any walking, just try your hardest NOT to go anywhere and see what happens. I bet you it’s nothing. I bet you a million pounds you won’t balloon and put on 3 stone in that one day.

    Have you considered ready meals? I know it’s definitely not your preferred option as you love cooking, but there are some with a sensible amount of calories and fat (M&S have some really really lovely ones) and they won’t leave you feeling stuffed. Could be a way of slowly upping your calories and adding in fats. I’m a fan of ready meals (because I’m lazy and I know how much fat/cals is in them) even though the numbers won’t be accurate my disordered mind convinces me they’re correct. How are you with sauces? I miss mayonnaise. I can’t remember the last time I had it but I’d love to be able to have some again. I can do the fish & chips and thai takeaway thing, but could never put a spoon on mayo on my plate or add butter to bread. One day. You’ll have your chippie meal and I’ll have toast & butter!

    This comment wasn’t meant to be so long sorry, but you’ve been incredibly honest and I take my hat off to you. You’ve recognised you’re finding it hard and that takes strength. You seem a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, so keep fighting xx

    • It’s ridiculous that everyone is the same. I wish there was some magic way of managing it all but there are just so many different things and half the time I don’t realise I’m doing them.
      I almost didn’t walk today, but as per usual caved in. Ergh. I know I have to stop but I just feel like I’m too lazy otherwise. I wish that I could just stay in my pjs all day and not feel like the worst person. I know nothing will happen so I will try again tomorrow.
      Ready meals are really not good for me. I find them really difficult to deal with as I know I could make the exact same thing but healthier and with less fat and less salt and (most importantly) less calories. Plus in the bad days of restriction I’d let myself have those heinz weight watchers ready meals for dinner sometimes if I’d excercised enough and was too exhausted. They are so disgusting. I’d only have the shepards pie or beef hotpot because they had less calories than the other ones. Ergh. I wish numbers weren’t on packets at all. Maybe I’ll try a M&S one though as I love their food and they have all those lower calorie ranges to ease myself into it a little. I miss sauces – especailly creamy ones. Never been huge on the condiments though (except bread sauce because it is literally too good). I really hope I’ll be able to eat chips again, but honestly I’m not sure I ever will… it makes me so sad. But we both need to get on the butter! Butter is so nice, but right now I can only allow nut butters as they seem healthier. I mean, peanut butter on toast is good, but I do miss butter and jam. It’s actually sad.
      Thank you so much though! It takes a lot and always seems like I can never do enough to make this better so I’m always failing. That was really needed. x.

  3. Guest

    Hey!
    Wow – I’ve been following your posts for a while now and I can definitely relate to almost everything you say.
    I’ve been in the same position as you. Being afraid of adding fats, counting calories in everything, weighing all of my food, delaying meals, low calorie cooking, lack of concentration, obsessively weighing myself, rigidness… oh my goodness it’s so awful!
    I guess the thing that really helped me most with the above was being inpatient. I’ve been ill for a long time and despite only being 20, spent far too many years in various hospitals and units. I’m a great way off being recovered myself, and I actually found that institutions replaced some bad habits with others, but I’m hoping I can offer you some suggestions that might help!
    Firstly, the adding fats thing. How would you feel using flavoured oils? I always found that plain oil was quite difficult as I couldn’t see the purpose of it, but at least with different oils you can actually see how it improves your food. You can get all kinds of sesame, garlic and coconut oils. They’re all really healthy – oil is mega healthy – and so yummy too! Also, do you eat fish? Salmon is something good to try. Or tuna steak if you can’t manage that yet.
    With regards to weighing your food and counting everything – I cannot tell you just how liberating it is when you don’t! I still weigh certain things (cereal, hummus, nuts etc) but I can go out and buy a deli sandwich, or a fresh loaf of bread without worrying (at least not too much!). And I definitely don’t weigh out my lettuce anymore! How about you start by buying something where you can make a really good estimate of the calories. Perhaps bread actually? I know in most supermarkets (M&S and Tesco definitely do) you can actually buy mini 400g wholemeal pre-sliced fresh loaves. We all know regular bread has around 100 kcal per slice, and is about 50-55g. These loaves have slices weighing around 35-40g so you can estimate them to be say 90 calories and be confident that you’re actually more likely to be overestimating that eating anything “excessive” in your eating disorder’s mind. A standard portion of bread for a sandwich is two slices too, so you can’t go wrong with it! As long as you don’t actually weigh the slices, that is. ;) The more you do it, the easier it gets. At one of the units where I was everything was “eyeballed”. We had sample bowls of cereal so you could copy them to get roughly the same amount and vegetables, beans, rice, grains and such were measured as “scoops”. Someday you have more and others less, it all evens out. Your body isn’t a calculator! I guess the same goes for weighing yourself.
    The only thing that can help you with delaying meals, is to make a structure and STICK WITH IT. Be flexible to a degree (ie. Don’t clock watch!) but try and eat your meals within a reasonable time frame. Say have breakfast at 9, snack at 11, lunch at 1, snack at 4, dinner at 7 and supper/dessert at 9. Or whatever works for you, that’s just an example! When you’re on a WG meal plan especially, fullness is always going to be difficult. The way to relieve some of that is to space your food out properly otherwise you’re just making things more hard for yourself in the long run.
    Now on to low calorie cooking! Sorry that this is turning into a mini lecture. :P How about you try some new and totally different recipes. You say you like cooking different things and there’s so much out there to try! Buy a cookbook and go for it. This can also add with counting – when it says to add an onion do so, don’t weigh it! Sometimes if you just follow words and don’t think about it, it makes things easier. By using new recipes you won’t be “adding” anything to your meals, the 2 tsp of oil or whatever that the recipe calls for has always been there. It’s not extra, it’s not more and it’s necessary to the dish you’re cooking. Would you also ever consider allowing someone else to cook for you?
    With the poor concentration, I’m not really sure what to suggest. All I can say is that from my own experience it gets better as your weight gets higher and you lose some of your disordered behaviours. Weight lower than is healthy for you (not necessary just above BMI 18.5, sometimes above BMI 20, 22…) = physiological symptom of an eating disorder = disordered thoughts = poor concentration. Disordered behaviours = psychological symptom of an eating disorder = disordered thoughts = poor concentration. I feel for you. I know how horrible it is to sit there in a lecture calculating calories, planning meals, thinking about food, feeling bad about what you’ve just eaten, panicking about your weight… etc.
    Finally… about challenging you and trying new foods. You can surprise yourself.  Break the food down into what it really is. Chips = bad right? Wrongggg. Chips = potatoes + oil + yumminess. Potatoes = a vegetable, full of potassium and other good stuff. A source of essential carbohydrates. Oil = a good source of essential unsaturated and saturated fats, essential for functioning and for nice skin, hair and nails! Yumminess = good for the soul! Have you tried starting with sweet potato perhaps? It has a reputation for being a health food and actually counts as one of your five a day too. Chocolate is the same! Cocoa = antioxidants. Dairy = calcium. Yumminess = what you need for happiness. Happiness is the goal!
    Anywho, that’s enough from me. I’d highly recommend the community nurse btw. Sometime you just need that little push out of your comfort zone. Take care and keep strong. 
    X

    • Such brilliant advice! You really do speak the truth, and it’s nice to hear it can be done, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it may be.

      Scrunchy, with your timing issue, you could try and move it forward by a small amount every day and gradually get to a regular pattern so it’s not too much of a change at once? So if at the moment for example, you leave your breakfast until 11, have it at 10.45, and then also bring your snack forward 15 minutes. Tomorrow, have breakfast at 10.30, a bring snack forward etc etc etc until you’re eating breakfast at breakfast time. I’m trying this too because I hate being awake for 3-4 hours before I have breakfast!

      P.S Is that a Costa muffin I spy in the photo? So goooood!

      • I’m bringing things forward. Today breakfast was at 10:15. I want to get it comfortably before 10 by next week. Sometimes I do listen to advice! And yuss to the costa muffin! It’s cherry and almond because their christmas range is finally here! x.

    • Thank you for this! So much info but really useful! I look at flavoured oil sometimes, but then I get scared I might like it too much. I especially want to try the garlic, chilli and walnut ones. Maybe I’ll just do it and get one this week! I know oil is really good for you so I don’t know what’s stopping me. I love fish, but find all meats difficult. Plus these things are so expensive! Argh! I love tuna steak though… The weighing stuff thing I am trying out though. I’m starting with fruit. Berries should be easy for me to estimate as I have them every day and most other fruit comes in portions, so I’m hoping that’ll be ok. It’s more difficult to trust myself than I thought. Next week, vegetables, then the week after, spreads! The calories I’ll gain or lose from these should be pretty negliable in the great scheme of things and I have to lean that it won’t make me drastically overweight. I’m also thinking of having one unknown calorie meal a week, be it from the outside world or the boy or the famo. Got to remember, not a calculator.
      That’s the same structure that the dietician gave me! I know I have to stick to it! I’m pushing breakfasts forward again, still uncomfortable but I’m hoping for 9 by next week. It’s the being flexible that scares me though, so I put it off because I don’t know how far away the next meal will be. Grr. Shouldn’t matter really.
      I’m always trying new recipes! I just habitually modify them to make them ‘healthier’ (read – lower calorie). That’s a good way to think of it though. The oils and fats and carbs were always there – I’m not especially adding them. I will try this thought process. I don’t think I need any more cookbooks though, obviously except for Yottam Ottolenghi’s and the Nordic Bakery one because they look too good (hurry up Christmas!). I’m going to try push myself with unknown calorie meals though.
      Potatoes are my biggest fear food of all, so chips still seem a long way off. But sweet potato! Now that’s another story! I love sweet potato so much. And I do make sweet potato wedges now (with minimal oil but working on it). I hope the concentration will come. I find it harder to concentrate now than ever. Grr.
      Basically, this seems to be a lot of buts… However, I need to challenge these buts because in reality, I’m going to have to do things that make me uncomfortable to get me happy and healthy. Happiness is the goal – your right.
      Thank you for this. It’s pretty insightful and has some useful tips!
      x.

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