Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Feed Me Sane

I can't but think that there is a direct link between my food intake and me mental state (DOH!). For various reasons, my intake has become rather repetitive. Part of this is the reason behind last week's endoscopy (I have scar tissue in my esophagus which makes solid food more than a little uncomfortable to eat) but partly due to sheer habit/OCD/rigidity- it seems a pattern when I have free reign over my food with nobody to be accountable to, that I fall into the habit of eating the same "safe" foods day in, day out. Without a conscious effort to eat something new/different, I end up eating the same meals endlessly. The longer I DO this, the higher the chance of my intake dwindling- it becomes such a habit to eat exactly XXX for lunch, that it is just too tempting to start cutting corners here and there.

I haven't cut corners much at this point, but I have noticed a HUGE difference in both my energy levels and mood over the last month when I moved into my apartment and am wondering if the sheer monotony of my diet is playing a role- my food choices are not 'unhealthy' per se, but I know enough about nutrition to know that eating the level of intake I do each day makes it hard enough to cover nutritional bases, without the added kicker of having the exact same foods each day.

I kind of want to avoid talking too much about food itself because this isn't a food blog, but I think it's important for me to start actually looking at EVERY aspect of what's going on right now and trying to figure out this cloud of depression. Whilst at the same time not brushing it off as purely diet-related when it could be a multitude of things.

But, back to food.

It doesn't matter to me how it tastes or what form it takes- if it meets the criteria that my ED'd brain says is "safe", I eat it. Carbohydrates I eat in the form of whole grains because I am terrified that without carbohydrates, my serotonin levels will drop and lead to binging. It's all very black and white, classroom-style...and it's boring as hell. Food isn't enjoyed- it's mapped out, almost "prescribed"- set times, set calories, set protein levels, set portions of XYZ. All with very specific purposes in mind. And it's worked- I haven't had a major medical crisis since working with the "damage control" therapy. I haven't really moved beyond that approach either (though that was never their goal). My brain hones in on certain nutrients (protein and fiber) for day-to-day comfort/satiety, whilst ignoring longer-term health impacts of a well-rounded diet (hello phytochemicals, antioxidants, EFA'S!)

Why is this relevant?..

Because it's starting to really impact on my life. No, no major medical crisis, but I guess after several years of subtly depriving your body, it starts to fight back. Bodies aren't designed to have *just* enough to tick along from day to day, and life demands more than just having the energy to get up and dressed. A nourished brain can do amazing things- a starving brain struggles to make sense of the world, of people's words, of rationalising, thinking, hoping, dreaming.

I have been ignoring this for the last couple of weeks, and it hasn't been until today when I realised quite how tired I have been lately that I started to wonder. I could well be barking up the wrong tree. The energy levels, nausea, etc could be an effect of a very real depression, but I know from experience that when I am eating more variety and a higher intake, there is a dramatic difference in how I think and feel.

Food for thought (or just needing some food for my thoughts).

What things do you eat that are truly enjoyable for you?

***************

Something else I wanted to write about. I've been blogging daily for a while, and since I was admitted to hospital, it's kind of taken a back seat. A huge part of this has been due to the depression thing. But also because I am now working with the "Intensive Home Treatment Team" so I can be at my apartment, rather than in hospital right now. They visit me at home each evening (sometimes 2-3 times a day) so that is taking a huge chunk of my energy and time. I also feel really ungrateful because I'm not sure it's helping. I don't know. I am in such a "funk" and I just want to slap myself and say, "snap out of it" but I can't seem to shake this cloud over my head. I haven't felt like writing lately- not because I don't want to WRITE, but because I really want to keep my blog both honest and recovery-focused, and right now am finding it hard to do both at once. Hospital is being discussed because I've been struggling to make use of the treatment and they are concerned about where things are leading. I want this home treatment to work out and am so frustrated with myself right now- they come and they are GREAT but it's like there is this wall between me and them. They make suggestions about things to do or try and my brain just screams, "what's the point? what does it matter if I do a pottery class? it's all a waste of time". I am, of course, perfectly aware that a pottery class would be a pretty damn good start at 1) getting me out my head for a couple hours a week, 2) giving me *some* kind of focus other than food/depression, 3) would be a great stepping stone to then moving on to do something a couple days a week (volunteering, school, etc) but right now it just feels beyond overwhelming to even take a shower, never mind go out and be sociable/productive.
I guess all I can say about this is that I am being as honest as I can be, and trying to just hold on. I want to say that I've never felt like this before, but I think I have- it's just hard *right now* to see beyond the current waves and see that I can get through this somehow.

What helps you feel better when you are feeling hopeless?

Again, apologies for lack of comments. My internet will be sorted on Friday. YAY!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

C'est la Vie

I'm trying to break things down and figure out why my mood has plummeted the last couple of days. I don't know if it's been triggered by the upheaval from the endoscopy and disruption in routine, or if last week's episode has really hit me hard that things aren't going as well as I like to believe, but I honestly don't know. I've been reading old posts and trying to figure out what went wrong and where, but I think I am just over-analyzing and not really getting anywhere.

I think if you look at something long enough and hard enough, you start to notice flaws. Whether it's in a belief system that you once thought foolproof, or a relationship: if you LOOK for faults, you are pretty much guaranteed to find them. Nothing is perfect.

As a self-confessed perfectionist, that's not an easy pill to swallow. I want things to match up, to look pretty, to make nice sparkly patterns. I want sunshine and rainbows, and life doesn't WORK like that. It CAN'T work like that, because...it's life. And nothing can or ever will be perfect.

Maybe it's time to reassess what I am looking for, the outline I want my life to form, rather than the precise details I conjure up in me head which will never be a reality.

Then I can start piling up my imperfect blocks to shape some sort of meaningful existence, and not worry so much if it isn't the ideal existence I hoped to live.

What do you want to be doing 5 years from now?

Going backwards scares me. Standing still scares me (and bores me). Which leaves just one direction to go: forward. One way or another. Without a map- finding my OWN way, following my OWN path. One that is realistic for ELLIE- the "ellie" that I am still creating... Making it up as I go along, embracing uncertainty, dancing alongside the trivial and mundane parts of life, while relishing the wonderful parts and holding onto whatever strength I have through the crappy parts.

Because a life with no 'downs' would have no 'ups'.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Does The Past Dictate The Future?

Thank you so much for your support with yesterday's post- I am so amazed by how the blogging community has so much wisdom and advice...you guys are beyond great :)

*potentially triggering post- mentions behaviours*

I thought more about what I had written as your comments landed in my inbox. I think I am just a little disheartened right now. Between the ages of 12 and 19, I pretty much lived in hospital. I fell into a pattern of either eating disorder behaviours, or self-harming and suicide attempts. NEVER both at the same time.

Between the ages of 19 and 25, my eating disorder was at the forefront of my behaviours and self-harming completely vanished. I guess I hoped, when I signed myself into the inpatient program in New York KNOWING I would be giving up my eating disorder, that I would have somehow "grown out" of the mood swings and impulsivity I dealt with as a teenager. I hadn't, and once again, was...ah... I can't even describe. Unstable, to put it nicely! So it's not something I say lightly when I voice concerns about that becoming an issue at higher weights- I was all for trying again as an adult, to recover 100%, but it almost seems like I NEED my eating disorder to stay on somewhat of an even keel.

Over the last year or so, the lines have grown closer together and it doesn't feel so much like an "either or" choice. The mood swings and impulsivity have become a rather prominent feature again, despite my eating disorder still pretty much running rampant.

To be honest, I'm pretty scared. I've never DEALT with the two combined. It's been one or the other. Now I feel really trapped- the only thing that helps my mood slightly is losing weight, and that is becoming shorter-lived by the day, before the depression kicks back in and my thoughts wander off again. Food and weight only distracts me for minutes before my mind drifts back to other urges.

I know my family and treatment team have always been almost 'reassured' when I am at a lower weight because they don't need to worry about self-harm or overdosing. Everyone, myself included, was pretty taken aback after the suicide attempts in October and November, and I am still trying to make sense of where that came from/why NOW/why is my eating disorder not "working" anymore.

I guess the problem comes from seeking a solution in something that can never really bring true contentment, and as long as I do little more than mask the original feelings, they will manifest in all kinds of ways.

The other concern I expressed was about how little support there is when I appear to be "healthy" and that is not just my perception. Eating disorder treatment is really hard to get in the UK in general, more so in Scotland. At a healthy weight, the little services there are will put you at the bottom of the 2 year waiting list, then offer nothing more than 6-8 CBT sessions. There is a total of 9 inpatient beds in the country for eating disorders and those are reserved for people at life-threatening low weights, who have not had the opportunity to receive inpatient treatment before. The ones the National Health Service deem "saveable", and by their definition, based on my history, I'm not.

I don't personally buy it. I preach that full recovery is possible for EVERYONE- regardless of history, circumstances, what treatment they have or haven't had. I say it and I believe it. And I don't think that ANYONE is a write-off or destined to live forever in the clutches of anorexia (or die from it) but at the same time, I feel like I have run out of options. When it comes to therapy, medication, alternative treatments, self-help... I don't know. I don't know exactly what answer I am hoping to find, or there even is an answer. Maybe my belief in recovery is as false as the weird beliefs I hold about my body or food. Maybe it just isn't on the cards for me.

But then what makes ME so different that *I* can't recover whilst everyone else is capable? To that, I have no answer. Except I look at the last 14 years, the things I have tried, the things that have helped, the things that haven't, and I don't know what conclusion to come up with.

This is all kind of doom and gloom, and it's a Friday night so I'm going to stop here (*huge sighs of relief all round*) lol. Still no photos- can you believe that my internet has cost me almost $200 since I maxed out my limit?! Criminal, I'm telling you. I can't WAIT for April 3rd when my contract kicks back in.

Oh, and the flat-out wrap was delicious! My wrapping skills remain a "work in progress", but it tasted great and that's what counts, right? :P

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Balancing Act

Thank you for all the comments and feedback on yesterday's post. I was hesitant to post the reason behind my hospital admission- partly because of sheer embarrassment (me? psychotic?) but also because I feel like such a hypocrite at times, talking about recovery, doling out advice and yet not actively making any significant changes in my own behaviour. I also didn't want to come across as dramatic or be construed as trying some "shock tactic"- but again, I continue to be amazed by how supportive and accepting the blogging community is.

I guess the biggest lesson I've learned over the last week is that as long as you live on the edge, you run the risk of tipping over into dangerous territory. Whether it's something physical or something psychological, as long as one foot stays firmly planted in "eating disorder land", a huge risk is being taken. And it doesn't always have a happy ending.

I don't remember ever feeling as scared as I did last Friday. Nothing was making sense in my brain, nothing looked or felt the same. I was terrified of my thoughts- though didn't even recognise them as MY thoughts. I don't remember the details but having talked at length with the team I am working with, I was definitely unrecognisable as the "ellie" my friends and family know.

As far as behaviours go, I've kind of brushed the diet pill thing under the carpet. They aren't hardcore illegal stimulants and I don't even take half the recommended dose. I've been telling myself it's no big deal. Obviously, it is. Not only because of the effects they are having on my emotional state, but because of what they represent.

Anorexia as my early morning wake-up call. Anorexia boosting my energy levels through the morning. Anorexia making her presence KNOWN. The fear of letting go because I don't know if I am strong enough to face life without some form of crutch, and despite ALL the ups and downs I've had in recovery, there has always been shreds of anorexia spattered across my day-to-day life. I can justify doing certain things for recovery and I can justify giving certain things up. But some things I can't seem to get my head around because it seems like too big a commitment to health/recovery. This is NOT to say that I don't WANT recovery 100%- I want it more than anything. But my fear is that I'll recover 90%- be behaviour free, weight restored, technically "healthy", but the severely depressed/self-destructive/dysfunctional person I seem to become once I "appear" normal will be all that is left. Just without any real justification for getting help/support without something visible wrong. I am terrified that self-harming/overdosing could be a potential coping strategy again. Not because I have those urges, but because I associate those behaviours with times when my eating disorder has been nothing more than a blip on my radar. I guess the two are very connected and expressing/dealing with the same thoughts and feelings, but somehow anorexia feels much safer. Until something like last week's events occur, or some physical crisis.

I feel so unbelievably torn right now. Sitting on the fence and I really can't afford to DO that right now- the fear of staying where I am and yet the fear of embracing change and letting go of anorexic behaviours is heart wrenching. I need to make some sort of commitment- the obvious choice would be recovery. But it's really not that straightforward. It's not as simple as gaining Xlbs, throwing away diet pills, doing my affirmations. I don't even know the way forward right now- REALLY forward, not merely switching directions.

This has been a really long post, and I still can't post pictures thanks to my lame internet connection (it's costing me about $2 per email/blog comment, hence why I have been quieter today!) I'm looking into other options for connections!

BUT, I do have a rather burning question for you lovely people out there ;) Sam and I did an exchange- she sent me the most amazing package, GRANOLA (!!!) and white chocolate macadamia nut Clif bars (so excited to try these) as well as some long-desired flat-out wraps. I have bought some curried chicken salad tomorrow and I need to know: which way do I roll the wrap? Long-ways or side-ways?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

E-Day

= endoscopy day!

I mentioned previously about how self-harm has become a complete "non-issue" for me. I don't think about it, talk about it and definitely don't consider it. Quite the opposite. It's left me with a literal phobia of pain in any way, shape or form What most people might describe as a "minor headache" is unbearable for me. I will call my mom up crying if I stub my toe- it's really bizarre coming from someone with my history. I am also noticing a similar thing with food- I have ZERO tolerance for being hungry or thirsty. I am actually terrified of it. I don't know if it's because I am scared I'll not be able to stop eating when I DO get food, or if it's the memories and associations it stirs up, but it's so freaking uncomfortable for me to NEED something I can't have at that moment. Has anyone else noticed that through recovery they completely lose the ability to tolerate hunger? The word "hangry" has become a regular part of my vocabulary! It's rare that I recognise hunger signals- I think that might be part of the problem. That by the time I DO notice that my body wants food I do feel absolutely horrible, so then I associate hunger with waiting/not eating until suchandsuchatime/not able to focus until I DO eat/horrible physical feelings so I guess it's understandable that I hate it.

Suffice to say, today wasn't my idea of fun. I had to completely fast for 12 hours before the procedure which meant skipping breakfast (throwing my whole day's schedule off- more on that later) and by 11am I was really getting unnecessarily agitated. I didn't actually feel hungry by that point, but I was so scared that it would hit me suddenly and uncontrollably. Then the endoscopy itself. I was due to be sedated but my blood pressure was too low- they gave me a tiny dose to relax me then carried out the whole thing with me fully conscious of what was happening. I don't know if he is used to doing this on knocked-out patients, or is just REALLY rough, but good lord I was in agony. Well, MY idea of agony :P All went smoothly though and I was sent home under strict instructions to avoid operating heavy machinery and signing legal documents for 24 hours. So no house buying/getting married until tomorrow night at least. Haha :)

Enough of my whining. The sedation didn't kick in for the procedure but am pretty wiped out this afternoon. So YAY for having internet access/being able to blog, but BOO to wanting to just go to bed!

I do, as promised, have some pictures...

In anticipation of long wait after endoscopy, I came prepared with snacks galore! Then grabbed more food from the hospital cafe whilst waiting for my appointment.

First time trying a Clif Nectar bar- it was AWESOME! I was sent one in a bar exchange and have been wary of it, but it was delicious. Another thing to add to my list of "must-buys" when I am in the US next! The sandwich (cheese, pickled onion chutney, celery, apple and lettuce) is made by "Cranks". They were I think one of the first vegetarian restaurants in the UK- now closed, but their cookbooks are great. This was a "Ploughmans" sandwich- it's a Brit thing, yo! Usually it's cheese, pickle (chutney/relish-style, not like a cucumber pickle), salad and occasionally meat. Designed for farmers coming in for lunch straight off their ploughs!

Another bar I have had lying around for ages, wary of trying. It looked like something I would LOVE, but had a horrible texture. Hard to describe, but very VERY chewy, though not in a Clif-bar-good-chewy way. Just like shoe leather! I like their British ones better (vanilla coconut...mmm). I wouldn't eat this again, but it did it's job for today and helping me to make up for my missed breakfast!


Dinner tonight, since 1) it's different from my usual and 2) I am at my mom's so have use of an oven that works and doesn't look like it's about to grow legs and start walking around...


Vegetable kiev- kidney beans, petite pois, mushrooms and some other veg stuffed with some kind of cream cheese filling and coated in breadcrumbs. Not homemade, though I DID put it on a baking tray myself. Impressive, no? This is a photo I took of the box. They never look as pretty once they are cooked/plated up!

And some more pictures from the last few days...

Hospital menu which they so thoughtfully filled out for me...


I don't eat red meat so traded the roast beef for cigarettes (lol- the joys of psychiatric units) and waited for my mom to visit...


...bringing a Starbucks low-fat muffin. No vitatops in this country, but these are really good! And something else my mom stuffed into the bag of clothes she brought in:


Thought of you veggiegirl! (I did a whole photo shoot and took about 25 pictures of this because I was so bored!)

Essential reading material:


Just for clarification since a couple people have asked, I want to explain a little more about why I was in hospital. Basically it was a brief psychotic episode which they originally THOUGHT was just anxiety, but are now convinced it is due to the diet pills I have been taking. I never thought diet pills could DO that, but apparently they can. I have been taking these for almost 2 years and only take half a dose- quite easily manage if I miss a few days and not quite sure why I have continued taking them. I guess it felt like some kind of...I don't know. Something I wasn't quite ready to let go of yet. I'm working hard on this now though since I cannot afford for another episode like this to happen! So please, if you DO take OTC diet aids and suffer from anxiety anyway, don't assume you are "getting away with it". I'm not going to preach about dangers or why you should stop, but just know that there are things going on in your body that you can't always see.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Stepping Back In

I've been trying to formulate a coherent post since I was discharged yesterday afternoon. I'm still trying to piece together what happened or how I actually ended up spending the weekend at the local psychiatric hospital. Needless to say, I haven't been doing as well as I like to let myself think.

Much of Friday and Saturday are a blur- I don't remember being admitted to hospital or what events occured leading up to it. It scares me that my memory of the past few days is so hazy, and that I sit here now feeling dazed and confused and trying to piece things together in a way that makes some sort of "sense". I guess things don't always make sense in a conventional meaning of the word when it comes to eating disorders, anxiety, depression, etc.

I am home, I am safe and I have more support right now than I think I have ever had, even during inpatient admissions. I have been discharged to the care of the "Intensive Home Treatment Team" who are visiting me in my apartment daily (twice today) as well as my therapist and housing support worker.

I feel like my brain has been run over by a steam-roller and feel really shaken up- living minute to minute and seem to have lost sight of the bigger picture of "recovery" right now. NOT because I have given up, but this "crisis" (for lack of a better word) is taking priority right now.

So I am back in the real world, back to my usual routine and trying to keep a lid on my anxieties and fears, and waiting until this storm passes.

My internet IS running, though until April, it's at an extortionate rate (hence lack of comments/pictures!) I am staying with my mom tomorrow night after my endoscopy (more on that another day) so I'll try to get up a more visually pleasing post :)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Slight Hiatus

I just wanted to write a quick post to say that I was admitted to hospital on Friday. Have been given a couple of hours home this afternoon to pick up stuff from my apartment, check my mail, etc but short of time (hence the brief post/lack of responses on your blogs!)

I haven't met with my consultant yet so have absolutely NO idea when I am going to be discharged, but keeping my fingers crossed that it's early this week...will update/catch-up properly then!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Going The Extra Mile

First of all, I was lucky enough to be mentioned by two amazing bloggers today!

Isabella gave me a Helping Hand...

I'm supposed to than 5 bloggers who have helped me, but honestly? There are SO many of you guys out that there that have touched me deeply with your posts, your comments, your words, your support... I'm not cheating, I just can't pick 5.

I also want to pass on this HELPING HAND to 5 amazing people out there for a little encouragement in their journeys.

  • elle who has an amazing sense of humour, and a shining spirit

  • sam who is giving me SO much support with food challenges and taking strides towards recovery

  • sheena who has more strength than she realises

  • katie who I have known for years, and have every reason to believe will come through this with flying colours

aaaaaand... I'm not picking a 5th because there are so many people I want to extend a helping hand to.


I also received this award from the wonderful Sheila at Burp and Slurp-


Another fabulous, sweet and caring young woman- check out her GREAT recipes. One awesome cook (who is going to train me to make omelettes!) I'd like to pass this one on to the fearless and fabulous Jaime and my fellow pickle-lover, Danielle- 2 great gals. Check out their blogs if you haven't yet done so!

Thanks guys! :D

*************
Now, I just need to rant a little bit before I get onto my original topic. I have been without internet all day- I use a "pay as you go" internet service which has a predetermined allowance of GB. I have gone WAY over my allowance, but did they tell me? NO. They just let me carry on in my merry way, racking up a huge bill then cut off my internet when even they deemed the bill to be extortionate. I didn't know what was going on, so kept trying to connect- eventually got my mom to call them and she sent me a text asking for some info on the USB I use for wireless. I tried to text back, and what do you know? My phone credit had run out (I also have a "pay as you go" phone since I didn't want lumbered with a contract, not knowing how long I'd be in the UK). Usually I top up my phone online, but obviously that wasn't an option. Eventually my mom got the full story, added some credit and upgraded my account (thanks mom- I'll pay the extra) so then could top up my phone. So, all good, right? Or not. I had dinner, made a cup of tea and started catching up with blogs. I kid you not, I had not even drunk half of my tea when a message appeared saying I was running out of browsing credit. WTF?! My mom had put on £10/$20 and 10 minutes later it had run out?!!!!! So, I called them, was on hold for ages and eventually got through. Thought "what the heck" and added a rather large sum to my account (goodbye fresh fruit and vegetables for the next 2 weeks) and hung up. Tried to send a text message, and what do you know? Their lame-a** peak-rate phone line used up all my phone credit. So now I have no phone credit, no money in my account, and just RAAAAAAAAWR. Not a happy bunny (I am currently offline writing this to upload later because god forbid I should waste browsing time doing something as allowance draining as writing).

Okay.
Breathe.
Now, ANYWAY, for anyone still reading, thank you. I am now back to what I originally wanted to write about today!

I was thinking today about how I do the absolute bare minimum with regards to my recovery. I eat *just enough* to meet very basic requirements, my weight is *just enough* to avoid any immediate medical crisis. I mosy along in my recovery, wondering why I am progressing so slowly, and realised that I am putting in as little effort as possible to stay out of hospital. If I want more out of life than just living from one drama to the next (living on the edge takes on a new meaning and turns more into "playing the fool" here), I need to really start kicking things up a notch.

When I returned from treatment in New York, it was because my treatment team had set a weight that I would need to leave their program at. I hovered just above this weight for a couple months. Each weigh-day provoked a LOT of anxiety because I never knew if I would drop the miniscule amount it would take to kick me out the program. I relayed this back to my therapist here in the UK and she said, "why didn't you stay X + 5lbs above that weight?" I was FLOORED. It had not even OCCURED to me to give myself more of a buffer to have more peace of mind. It never once even crossed my mind that I could CHOOSE to remain that little bit healthier and ensure I stayed on the program. It seemd so blatantly obvious when she said it, but I honestly never even considered it. All I heard was, "at x weight..." so my brain said, "okay- you will stay at X + 0.0000000001, mmmkay?"
So why is this relevant?

Because I was looking at old journals again, this time from 2003. I was writing the same exact thoughts I write about now. I was almost the exact same weight, doing the exact same things- everything has gone up and down and all over the place inbetween these times, but essentially from that point to now, things overall are pretty much the same in regards to my recovery.
I am still doing the bare minimum to function, stay out of hospital, etc. That was actually okay then. It was PROGRESS at that point because for a long time I wasn't able to DO the bare minimum and wasn't able to stay out of hospital. I did a lot of work with my team at that point about "managing my anorexia", which I guess...worked? I am definitely much more in control of my symptoms now, but am not at a point where I am happy JUST to be out in the real world. I want MORE than I did back then- it was a huge novelty at that point to be able to make a cup of coffee whenever I wanted, use as much ketchup as I wanted, eat breakfast at 6am if I wanted. It signified huge freedom at that point to be able to do those things, but now freedom implies so much more to me.

If I want more than the bare minimum, I need to act accordingly.

I can't do as little as possible just to stay out of hospital. I need to do as much as possible to ensure I am living life to the fullest. I firmly believe that what you get out of recovery directly correlates to the amount of effort you put in, and this minimalistic approach is going to have minimalistic results.

This just hit me today so I need to actually start thinking, and more to the point, DOING more. Losing the "comfort zone" because it's really becoming a rather uncomfortable place to be. Going the extra mile. Reaching for goals instead of just dodging obstacles whilst daydreaming about what could be.

What would going the extra mile mean for you?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Happy Day

I talked with my support worker yesterday about how guilty I feel for not working at the moment- I feel bad that I am living on disability benefits and not contributing to society in any way. I have HUGE anxieties about the future, career, wanting to move back to New York, etc and get really frustrated with myself for not doing more with my life. She basically said that right now, I'm not healthy enough mentally or physically to work. I'm not sure WHY that put my mind at ease- I guess having it confirmed that it's OKAY for now to not be working and just be focused on rebuilding my life is enough. She reiterated what I've talked about in therapy- that it's far better to take things slowly and build up at a sustainable pace, than to rush into things, take on too much and completely fall apart.

I think that's partly where the 'silence' is coming from. Hearing someone else's voice over and above the whispers/screams from anorexia, telling me that I'm doing exactly what I NEED to do right now has left the disordered part of my brain without much leg-room to start stomping on my thoughts.

*******

Onto all that is good and glorious :)

Today is the first day that it's started to feel summery here in Scotland. The sun is shining and it's *gasp* NOT raining! Woooo! I also saw the first bee of the year. Anyone else petrified of bees/wasps? I took for granted the fact that there weren't any in NYC (city smog perhaps?) but there are lots on Edinburgh- and if the size of today's one is anything to go by, it could be an anxiety provoking summer! At least I live alone and nobody can make me open my windows!

There is a pretty large (by Edinburgh standards!) mall by the water that I decided to venture too. It's actually really near where I live and has amazing views of the water. I just wandered around for an hour before the guilt kicked in (*grumblegrumble* it'sawednesdayshouldbeworking/applyingforjobs *grumblegrumble*), but I had a really nice time.

Aaaaaaand...LOOK WHAT I FOUND!



I almost squealed when I saw this! I am pretty sure it's the same as the 'White Chocolate Wonder'- no idea why it has a different name here. Can't wait to try it!

I also tried a new breakfast this morning after receiving this in the mail:


Sounded good and I never turn down free samples!

With pumpkin and fage (the post-mix picture was ugly so you don't have to see that :P ). Looked like hamster food and tasted like sawdust. I'll stick to my beloved branberry muesli!

Today was also another 'food challenge' day that Sam and I picked. On the menu this week: mayonnaise.

I always thought I hated mayonnaise until I went to Germany when I was about 15. Have any of you guys had the pleasure of trying German chips (french fries) with mayonnaise? OMG. Their mayonnaise is NOTHING like Hellman's. It was amazing! Since then, I've grown to like mayonnaise in certain foods. My favourite sandwich filling is chicken salad and I ate this a LOT when I lived in the US (evolved into one made with tofu which I could quite happily live off for the rest of my life). Here in the UK, if you order a "chicken salad sandwich", you get chicken and salad on bread. Makes sense, no? I got quite a shock my first trip to the US when I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and got the chicken/celery/mayo combination I grew to love! Haha.

I really wanted a chicken salad sandwich (US style!) today, but this is the closest we get- chicken and sweetcorn! Sweetcorn and mayonnaise are pretty standard add-ins to tuna or chicken so this was the best I could come up with to fulfill my chicken salad craving (short of *gasp* buying some chicken, mayo...I don't know what else you guys put in it to make it so good!)

This was my first time having chicken in a really long time- I'm not vegetarian, but I generally don't eat much. I don't like to label myself as anything in particular, but I definitely prefer vegetarian options (just wish they weren't all soy/cheese/egg based!). I've had this sandwich before, but not for ages- it was a nice change from my usual lunch. I love sandwiches and think I am going to start making them a regular feature in my diet again- what are your favourite sandwich fillings?

Affirmation:

"I relax in the knowledge that I am exactly in the right
place at the right time doing the right thing"

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Sounds Of Silence

Today has been a very strange day. Not because anything particularly out of the ordinary has happened, quite the opposite- today has been a typical weekday for me. Strange because I am feeling lazy. Not 'lazy' as in an "I can't be bothered to do anything" way, but as in an "I can't be bothered to think about this right now" way.

Every time my usual anxieties and worries have barged into my brain, they have been met with an almost reflex reaction of, "I'm not GOING there today". Thoughts about food, weight, worrying about stuff that I don't actually NEED to worry about right now have been flying at me in their usual fashion, but I have had no desire to even consider them. The things that would usually irritate me or stress me out, I have shoved violently aside. "I don't have the energy for this crap right now".

I don't know if I am tired, or if something in my brain has actually shifted, or if this is too good to be true, but it's been so peaceful. A silent stillness that feels more serene than the creepy stillness that feels more like the "calm before the storm". It's WEIRD, but it's nice.

I don't know why I am posting this. I'm not really saying anything- merely observing silence and that's not much to blog about. But maybe that's okay. Life isn't always filled with drama and laughter or crisis after crisis. Nor is it composed of victory after victory, trophies and awards piling up, mountains being conquered, Nobel prizes being won. Sometimes it's just the mundane business of doing what needs done, going through motions with not much thought/feeling behind it. Just getting on with this living business that people rate so highly (lol)- I guess as long as there are peaks and troughs in between the periods of quiet, it all balances out into some hodge-podge picture of "normality"?..
"This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It’s hard to understand, when you are sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that “letting yourself go” could mean you have succeeded rather than failed. You eat your goddamn Cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head that keeps telling you you’re fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes... There is, in the end, the letting go."
- Marya Hornbacher


Monday, 16 March 2009

Talked The Talk...Put On Your Walking Shoes!

I reread earlier's post and realised that I have been saying the same exact thing since starting my blog. That I WANT recovery, "but"... and there is always a BUT. I don't know why there is so much ambivalence. Tonight, stepping back, it's clear: recovery does NOT guarantee happiness, health, a stable job, a safe and comfortable place to live, Independence, a social life. But anorexia DOES guarantee that none of that will be possible (I know some of you manage to juggle school/work/life on some level, etc- it doesn't work for me). I guess that recovery is just one huge leap of faith, and holding onto the fact that anorexia leads down a road to nowhere, but recovery at least opens up the doors to new things.

I don't want to be writing this same post in 6 months/ a year/5 years. I don't want to be living in supported housing, reliant on a treatment team to tell me what I can and can't do. I don't want to be obsessing over the size of my apples when I turn 27 later this year. I want to go for it. Having weighed up the pros and cons for what seems like forever, having tried (and failed) to juggle an eating disorder with the "normal" life I crave, having tried time after time to RECOVER without doing XYZ. I make a big song and dance when I do challenge myself or step out of my comfort zone- because it's damn hard for me to do it. But at the same time, I do it once and don't do it again. I don't sustain any changes I make because I have these ideas that "eh, done it once, don't need to do it again" so fall into my old patterns.

I'm hunting through my stuff to find my old meal plans, my treatment hand outs, looking into volunteering a few days a week since I can't work at the moment (and seriously, sitting around with no structure to the day EVERY day is enough to pull anyone down into depression).

I need to change and I know it. I need to buckle down and start MAKING these changes instead of talking about them, thinking about them, analysing them.

Nike-style: Just Do It

Aaaand... I have pictures. cause I know you like them :P

Breakfast is my favourite time of the day, and every time I eat this combination, I wonder why I even bother with other breakfasts (oh yeah- pumpkin is in limited supply! Doh!)


  • pumpkin
  • oats
  • banana
  • milk
  • vanilla, cinnamon, pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
Food of kings I tell you, food of KINGS!

Second favourite breakfast:


  • apple (microwaved)
  • bare naked fruit and nut granola (love it!)
  • fage

And what's that? Non-food pics?..

I pretty much live in jeans and sweatshirts. My mom got me this at the weekend!

And my all-time favourite t-shirt. Ignore the wrinkles- it's been crumpled in a drawer all winter!


Let's see if it ever actually gets warm enough to wear a t-shirt in Edinburgh...

Pendulum Swings and Limbo

First of all, I want to say how much I appreciate your comments and kind thoughts on yesterday's post. I have been reading through them today sporadically, and it's been such a comfort to me to feel less alone with this.

Today has been a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings, from one extreme to the other. I know there is no "right" way to feel right now, but I am swamped with guilt around some of the thoughts I have been having right now.

One minute I am thinking, "I wish it was me". A horrible thing to admit to- I am NOT suicidal, but I guess there is a big part of me that just wants a way out of this. I don't want to say it's the "easy way out" because I don't think anyone, my amazing friend included, would take such a decision so lightly and without thought, but having it brought 'home' somehow makes it seem like... I don't know. Not an "option" per se, but a little less of "one of those things you read about in newspapers".

Then there is this other part of me that is SO grateful to not be in that place right now. I'm stuck and I'm struggling, but I'm looking for answers, solutions, ways forward, rather than embracing the dark shadows around me. I am grateful that I didn't succeed in my last suicide attempt, grateful that I *have* what I have- ie, a chance to make things better. I don't know how or when or what that will look like, but as long as I am alive and relatively well, I have more than a fighting chance of making a life for myself.

The moments of wishing it was me are fleeting but disturbing. More disturbing due to the sheer contrast between the other thoughts about using this to really throw myself headfirst into recovery and leave this behind. Using it as fuel to fight the fire that anorexia burns, using it as momentum to swing things around and start embracing life in all it's (albeit hideous at times) glory.

Torn between darkness and light, torn between wanting to stand up and say, "Enough- I am reclaiming my LIFE" and lying down just thinking about all the people this disease claims as it's own, and wondering why I should even entertain the notion that my future won't be the same.

It's scary to think about the statistics of eating disorders- the percentage that die, the percentage that struggle for the rest of their lives. It doesn't make a pretty picture to look at the charts and tables, the graphs and results, the data, the evidence, the research studies.

But you know what? F*** it. These studies only look at small pieces of evidence. YES, eating disorders kill. Either directly as a result of the behaviour, or more subtly by eroding the soul until suicide seems like the only viable option. And I don't believe it's just a choice of recovery/sickness. I really think people make the best choice they have, based on the options they see in front of them.

So what do I see?

I see a blank canvas. I have dreams of living back in New York one day. As soon as possible. It will always be where I call "home" and it's heartbreaking for me to not be there- but it's one of my main motivations for recovery and I'm not going to get dragged down by the fact that I am NOT there, because that blocks me from taking the steps to get there.

What else do I want?

I want freedom from my rituals and obsessions. I want to be spontaneous- to grab dinner somewhere just because I am hungry and need to eat on my way to do something. I want to have friends I can meet for brunch, go to comedy clubs with, go to bookstores with, wander around and take goofy photos with. I want to go to people's houses for dinner, take day trips to the beach. I want a regular-houred office job that I LIKE (or at least, not hate), but that doesn't define who *I* am. No more "Devil Wears Prada" scenarios, but something I feel good about doing, something that interests me, something that pays enough to not have to work 16 hour days and still barely cover my rent. I want to discover what it means to me to be close to someone, to share my time and thoughts with someone who is interested in me as more than a client/patient. Someone who makes me laugh but can take me seriously when I need them to. Someone who likes falling asleep at night watching "Scrubs" and looks forward to a big cup of hazelnut coffee in the morning. I want to go on bike rides on Sunday mornings, visit farmers markets, go to swing parks and night and rock back and forth looking at the stars. I want to go camping and fall over in muddy puddles, walk in the rain and gather round a campfire at night drinking hot chocolate.

I want so much more than what anorexia will ever give me, but ultimately it comes down to this: do I want all of that more than I want to be thin?

Yes. The problem I have is believing that by giving up the body/weight control, I'll have a chance at creating the life I want. It's NOT possible to have it both ways. To "not have the cake and not eat it either" :P There is this horrible limbo period at the start of recovery, when it feels as though you are giving up the "good" parts of the eating disorder, but yet to reap any of the benefits of recovery. They come later. Much later.

How do I hold onto the bigger dreams I have for my life, whilst living through the limbo?..

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Another Star In The Sky

I've been sitting in front of my laptop for about half an hour, trying to formulate some kind of coherent thoughts/words right now.

I haven't yet come up with anything.

I received news today that a friend of mine passed away at the end of February. She was someone I have known for years- through the depths of her disorder, then as a "role model" after she entered residential treatment a few years ago and remained in a solid state of recovery from her eating disorder since then. Over the last couple of years, she has made random appearances with updates about how things are going, how recovery has taken her places she never thought she would go and how she was well and truly embracing life.

She was someone I have often thought about in my own difficult moments. A kind of, "she did it, so can I..." type way. She was actually one of two people who prompted the change in my own motivation to recover and seek out the admission I have been discussing the last few days.

Her struggles apparently didn't end, and her absence was not necessarily due to life being great/wonderful/absorbing. She took her own life on February 22nd.

It seems like yesterday that I posted about Lorrie passing away. I guess when your entire social circle is composed of people you meet through the common ground of an eating disorder, as time goes on, the chances increase that you will be losing more friends than any 26 year old would ever expect to.

I want to say more. So much more. So much about what I am thinking right now, what I am feeling, more about my friend. It just doesn't feel "right" this evening. There aren't words to do her courage and spirit justice.

Love never disappears for death is a non-event.
I have merely retired to the room next door.
You and I are the same; what we were for each other, we still are.
Speak to me as you always have, do not use a different tone, do not be sad.
Continue to laugh at what made us laugh.
Smile and think of me.
Life means what it has always meant.
The link is not severed.
Why should I be out of your soul if I am out of your sight?
I will wait for you, I am not here, but just on the other side of this path.
You see, all is well.

-St. Augustine

Saturday, 14 March 2009

British Food 101 and Recovery 101

I did promise (threaten?!) that when I branch out from my standard dinners, I'd post a picture!

  • crustless vegetable quiche (is that not just...uh...a frittata?)
  • baked beans
  • chestnut mushrooms

I *heart* mushrooms. When I was little, my favourite snack was a tub of raw mushrooms. I used to take them to school for break-time, and got a lot of comments from my fellow classmates as they ate potato chips and candy. Mushrooms as a snack are not as weird as butter on a peanut butter sandwich (so glad you guys agreed with me that this is odd!) British baked beans are NOT the same as American baked beans- these are often served with breakfast (alongside bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms and in Scotland, haggis) or as a cheap and easy vegetarian option on baked potatoes or toast.

I was also flicking through the journal I kept in inpatient (06/07 time) and found something I had written to look back on as a reminder...

11th February, 2007-

I need to hold onto everything I have learnt here in (insert IP program name). I have to remember that I NEED to stay healthy. That losing weight or hurting myself is no longer an option- that it didn't work then, and it won't work now. That I don't have to become my emotions. That I can accept and embrace my thoughts and urges, but I don't have to act on them. That I ALWAYS have options. That I can pull myself out of 'emotional mind' by being mindful, practicing acceptance and thinking about what 'wise mind' would say. I need to remember that I am not a bad person and I don't deserve to suffer. That I am funny and intelligent and thoughtful- I am so much more than a walking, talking eating disorder.

It's weird looking back through this journal. It's filled mostly with things other people said, because I SO desperately wanted a reference guide when I left, to look back on as the "Recovery 101" book I always wished existed. The back pages are the first food log I ever kept because I wanted to remember exactly how/what was considered 'normal' (I hate that word, but I like the concept of a "normal" diet...oh normality!) I'll post more stuff randomly no doubt...

Growing Up

As much as I want the FREEDOM I talked about in yesterday's post, there is obviously something holding me back. I don't know quite what it is that makes it so difficult to give up my eating disorder, as much as I want to, but there must be SOME kind of pay-off to being sick.

Perhaps it's partly habit- in terms of eating, exercise, food choices, etc. I have been stuck in patterns for so long that breaking out of the pattern feels strange and almost unnecessary (ie, why would I eat more when I am comfortable with my current intake/why would I gain weight when I am *just* accepting of the size I am now?)

But I am pretty sure there is more.

Something about facing up to life, to myself, to the world, without hiding behind my behaviours or appearance is terrifying. Life confuses me. The unpredictability, the constant changes and need to adapt, the whirlwind of emotions in everyday life, never mind the extra turmoil that major events cause. Seemingly small stresses overwhelm me- a part-time job, going out for lunch, paying bills. I feel like I am still the same 12 year old I was when this all started. As if the hands of time stopped in my internal world, leaving my completely unable to "just deal".

Of course, restricting, overexercising, bouncing in and out of hospital, etc hasn't helped the situation. The less I eat, the more overwhelmed I get, the narrower my vision gets, the less capable I am of coping with day to day life.

I know this. And yet I continue to retreat into what is familiar and predictable as soon as life gets "too much" (by "too much", I mean I stop hiding and face up to the responsibilities of adulthood and realise, I don't know what the hell I am doing- I think a lot of people probably feel the same and make it up as they go along...at least, that's what I tell myself!)

There is also the very real fear of being just as screwed up emotionally/mentally at a healthier weight, but due to looking "normal", not getting any support/help with it. The times I HAVE been at a healthier weight have been when my mood swings have been out of control, my urges to self-harm have been through the roof, and barring the suicide attempt I made last year, all the others have been when, to the outside world, I looked "healthy".

Remaining in my anorexic body is, in a way, how I can communicate and say, "I'm not doing so well". But on the other hand, I cope with things so much better when I have the starvation-induced numbness. Because I don't feel so deeply. I don't have to think about what I want to do with my life, worry about the world/my place in it/how it all comes together because all I care about is food/eating/weight.

I want a bigger life? I need to buy some bigger jeans.

So do I *want* a bigger life? Yes. Without a doubt. I want the freedom back that I wrote about yesterday, I want to sparkle and shine and have a true purpose and meaning to my days beyond that false satisfaction and security that anorexia gives me.

It's just so complicated. I don't know HOW to actually change things. How to literally scrap the life I have created for myself where there are a zillion rules and regulations, habits and compulsions, rituals and obsessions. How to create a life worth living, how to deal with life the way people my age do. How to eat properly regardless of what size jeans I am wearing, how to exercise in an appropriate way, how to fill my time, how to be ME, in a world where I have experienced all but a few months of adulthood as a patient/anorexic/crazy person.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
Anais Nin

Friday, 13 March 2009

Let's Do the Time-Warp



"I'll have a double decaf skim grande latte with a splash of caramel syrup, no
whip, shaken not stirred, rebuked, and then served in a stack of three cups, no
cup sleeve, light on vanilla, a dash of nutmeg, sprinkling of cinnamon and then
punch me in the stomach"


No, that wasn't today's order :P

Yesterday was exactly 2 years since I quit my job at Starbucks. How do I remember the exact day? Because it was the same day I started seeing the therapist I grew to rely on over the next few months (and who probably saved my life, on more than a few occasions).

Back track.

New Year's Eve, 2006, I was inpatient in a research hospital in New York. It was not my first inpatient admission, but it was the first time that I sought it out, determined to recover once and for all. I flew from Scotland to what I thought would be a 4-6 week admission at the end of November 2006. Fast forward to March 2007 and I was finally discharged. It was the first time in my adult life that I had reached a healthy weight, the first time I had completed a treatment program voluntarily and the first time I had ever really believed that recovery was a very real possibility.

By the time I was discharged, fully weight-restored, I was working part-time in Starbucks a few afternoons a week, was taking an evening class at NYU and things were nothing short of amazing. I remember one of the first days after I was discharged- I was walking along the street and saw this adorable puppy. Those that know me know that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an animal lover (they scare me!). Neither am I one for mushiness and gushing over "cute" stuff. But the sun was shining and the puppy was jumping around, and I remember laughing. Really laughing. And really meaning it.

I had lived in such a state of numbness and malnourishment, that words like "happy" and "relaxed" really had no meaning to them. Until I was healthy. I sure as hell had MAJOR ups and downs at that point. I sunk to points of depression I never thought possible- but I also LAUGHED. I joked around, I joined in conversations, I slept until reasonable hours in the morning. My mind came alive as my body did and it seemed nothing short of a miracle to me that all of a sudden, the world was full of colours I had never seen before.

The world didn't stop turning when I stopped eating- I just hadn't been paying attention.

I commented on another blog yesterday when they mentioned the "freedom" they felt at a healthier point in their recovery and it really resonated with me. I still had hang-ups about food- I distinctly remember day treatment, when one lunchtime my salad was slightly bigger than usual. My "old" reaction would be to panic and pick out some lettuce/tomatoes- but no. I asked for extra salad dressing! I still weighed myself every day, walked a little more than most people would in the same circumstances, was struggling a lot to accept my new healthy body. But it was as if by gaining weight, a weight was lifted off of my shoulders and for the first time that I could remember, I experienced true happiness amongst the lows. Everything was so bright and intense because I wasn't hiding from the world behind my body- I was THERE, taking up the space I deserve, as if to say, "I'm here world- bring it on".

The months that followed were a struggle. I'm not sure at what point things started to unravel. I look back and it's all a bit of a haze. I did have some genuine physical issues going on which led to unintentional weight loss, resulting in the numbness I had craved during some of the dips amidst my happy/free moments. Piece by piece, everything started to fall apart and I really WAS oblivious. I kept brushing things off as "no big deal" because I didn't see the life I had built for myself starting to crumble.

First I cracked a bone in my ankle and had to leave my Starbucks job. Then my class ended (98% on my final exam- woot! A nourished brain = functioning brain, fo shizzle!), then the stomach issue...then before I knew it, I'd lost a pretty significant chunk of weight, was obsessing over the size of apples and people were making noises about inpatient/residential again.

Maybe I've just blocked it out. There is a huge part of me that is SO angry at myself for letting anorexia take hold of me again, for not trying harder/doing things differently. For taking for granted that I was doing better, and forgetting that there was a hell of lot of work to be done to STAY "better. For making the same mistake of going down the 'quick-fix' route when things got hard, instead of using some of the distress tolerance skills I'd been given in treatment.

There is also this incredible sense of guilt. My family in the US had never really gotten involved with my disorder/treatment when I was in the UK. When I came to New York and they SAW me get healthier, SAW the progress and improvements, they pulled out all stops to ensure that a relapse would not happen. A lot of people invested time, energy and money in my recovery and I don't think I will ever forgive myself for "throwing it back in their faces" (it wasn't intentional, but that is how it has been perceived).

This has been one long-ass post after a long-ass day so I'm leaving it there!

But, I need to keep reminding myself of the freedom that came with health, the happiness that accompanied the lows. Coming alive again hurt like hell, but the pain had a flip-side I don't experience now. I don't know if it's worth it- to have the highs but the deepest of lows? Or to stay in this steady "not quite despair but hurting like hell" state I exist in now. But the freedom to laugh and smile and sparkle and shine...that's got to be worth it.

Today's snack- looks like a repeat (pumpkin spice trail mix w/ yogurt), but I added vanilla extract to my plain yoghurt. Wowsers. That WILL be repeated!




Edit: apologies for weird formatting. No end of trouble with blogspot this evening...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Butter me Up, Baby!

What a way to start the day! Oatmeal that gives you a big smile first thing!


I was looking at the list of "fear foods" that Sam and I compiled over the weekend, and realised what all the foods had in common- NOT the calorie or fat content, but the fact that I enjoy them. I don't trust myself around the foods I really like because I have this intense fear that once I start eating them, I won't be able to stop. I should point out that I have no evidence whatsoever to support this belief, but there is this very real fear that I won't be able to control myself if I give myself unconditional permission to eat these foods.


And so I stick to the same old things, occasionally trying something new (different flavour, different combination, different brand) but for the most part, rarely branch out from the things I trust myself to eat in a controlled way.


There is also something to be said for the level of guilt I have when I DO enjoy what I have eaten. I have come a long way in managing to eat beyond the minimal amounts I ate during my lowest points, but I still struggle with the idea that food is more than just a life-sustaining substance. That it can and should be enjoyed. That it's okay to want things- let alone, need things. I go back and forth in my head about whether or not I really NEED something and it's virtually impossible for me to even contemplate wants without any valid reasoning behind it.


I can justify eating my "safe" foods because for the most part, they fulfill a certain criteria- either a decent whack of protein or fibre, a hefty dose of vitamins or minerals. It's hard to eat something with a lower nutritional value purely because it tastes better. I'll pay double the price for a yogurt that I hate, just because it has 5 calories less and 3g more of protein than the one I really want.

It's absurd and although a lot of the time it makes eating easier (less anxiety/more predictable), it's not how I want to live my life.

From social occasions to every day life, food IS essential for survival, but it's more than that. It's a way to let your body know that you respect it, that you deserve to be healthy and nourished through both all the chemical reactions that take place when you digest food to your taste buds. Food is more than just fuel. I have accepted the fact that NOT eating is not an option. Now I want to learn how to enjoy food and see it as a source of fuel, energy, LIFE- but also pleasure.


So that's a goal to keep in mind.


Anyway, back to the list Sam and I made. A couple of days ago, we took on the "liquid calorie" challenge. Today was BUTTER.


I think it's a pretty British thing- if you order a turkey sandwich here, it's pretty much guaranteed to come with butter as opposed to the US where mayonnaise is standard. In hospital, toast was always served with butter (in the US, we had peanut butter, cream cheese or butter). Even burgers are served with butter instead of mayonnaise half the time! It's something I have never really eaten- growing up with a mom on a never-ending diet, it was never on our sandwiches at home and I guess I always saw it as somewhat unnecessary. But I have to admit, I DO like it. Not in huge quantities, certainly not on peanut butter sandwiches (which yes- is pretty common here!) but on toast with honey? Or on a turkey sandwich? Hell yes.


So today was the day Sam and I did our butter challenge together...


I think malt loaf is a British thing too? I never saw it in the US. It's kind of a cross between raisin bread and fruit cake. And yes, it's good with butter! I have never bought a tub of butter in my life (!) and didn't want to go there today, but this met challenge criteria.






It was REALLY good! The malt loaf is dense and chewy, and I microwaved it to melt the butter in...mmmm... Great snack. Do i feel guilty? Kind of. My brain is tied up in knots trying to figure out what the purpose was of eating it. Being my schedule "snack time" isn't cutting it- so am going to hold onto my earlier ramblings about food that tastes good is also okay to eat. Not every snack has to have 50000g of protein or 800g fibre (owch- that one might hurt :P ). Taste is now coming into the decision making process when I choose my foods and this tastes awesome. So a good enough reason, right? (uh...little reassurance here?)


What are some of your favourite tasting foods/meals? (BONUS POINTS if it's something I can manage to cook without burning my apartment down/giving myself food poisoning!)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Hold On Tight

Usually after a morning like today, I'd spent the afternoon distracting myself by writing up meal plans, lists of foods, planning what/when to eat. I'd throw myself headfirst into any anorexic thoughts that passed my way and cling to the "comfort" of my eating disorder, as false as it may really be.

Today I listened to music, did some arty crafty things- stuff I don't usually do, but I wanted to make sure that I nurtured that voice inside me saying, "I'm not the same person I was".

Sounds cheesy when I write it out- I always hated therapists saying, "oh when you feel like XXX do YYY" because it felt so invalidating to the feelings/urges I had. Today, for whatever reason, it felt OKAY to just accept that I DID feel anxious, upset, scared, angry, hurt...

I think feelings are weird things. They are often triggered by something small or don't quite match up to actual experiences in the way you might expect. But they are THERE and they are VALID and most importantly, they pass. Nothing can or will last forever. As horrendous or wonderful as it might feel *right now*, there is no telling how or when it will change. Feelings aren't good or bad or right or wrong- they just are.


I'm posting this more for my own reference than anything else. It's so easy to get caught up in whirlwinds of anxiety/fear/anger/hurt/excitement/happiness, that you forget how, in time, things shift. In the meantime, all you can do is embrace whatever you have right then in that moment because it's our thoughts and feelings and experiences that make us who we are. We are ALL products of the people we've met, the things we have experienced, the lives we have lived. We can't go back and change things, do things differently, take back what has been said and done. We might never get apologies we are owed or "thank you"'s we deserve. But it's our choice how we use the *us* that stands today to shape our future. Easier said than done- believe me, I know. It doesn't feel like a choice when we feel pulled towards old habits, previous ways of dealing when the s*** hits the fan. But it is. Every second we make choices in how we act or think. And every second is a chance to do things differently from before.

So when the urges are overwhelming and every fibre in your being is pushing you into something you KNOW isn't going to take you any closer to the life you want to be living, remember that sometimes all you need to do is hold on, breathe and wait for the storm to pass.


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was
more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
-Nin, Anaise

Facing The Past, Clinging To The Future

I woke up today feeling much calmer and happier than I have in days. I read through your comments from yesterday and went on a special (secret!) shopping mission before an appointment I had. I had so much fun! Your words were still on my mind about relaxing and having a good time, and it was great.

I mentioned a couple days ago about how this city holds a lot of painful memories for me. I don't want to go into the whole shebang right now, but suffice to say that I know a lot of people here that I could quite happily live without ever seeing/hearing about today. So far, that's been pretty successful. I am careful about where I go and what I do- part of the anxiety in my new apartment has been not quite sure about the area, but I'm taking it one.day.at.a.time.

I was a little early for my appointment and was standing on the street looking in my bag for tic-tacs when all of a sudden someone called out my name. I looked up to see about fifteen people pouring out of a doorway next to the building I was about to go into. I knew 5 of them. I don't know if they remember things the same way I do, or if I misinterpreted things or if my anxieties and fears have altered my memories somehow, but they seemed happy to see me and started talking and asking lots of questions: the usual, "where have you been/what are you doing". I am generally pretty open about my 'life'- at least, with people who know my story/situation but I was NOT comfortable sharing any information with this group.

Honestly? They scare me. They know me and my history, and I know theirs. They aren't people I feel safe talking to, let alone sharing any information about my current life. I could feel myself getting more and more anxious and frightened- they were friendly to me, and I am going to sound like a complete b**** here, but it just took me back to all those years ago when I watched them chat with each other the same way, then like the flick of a switch, turn into unrecognisable violent monsters.

I know I have changed a lot over the last few years, and I have NO doubt that they have changed too. But it's hard to seperate who I WAS from who I am today.

But being there today, on the street, talking to me the same way they did back then as if nothing has changed at all was unsettling, to say the least.

I can't think straight right now. My thoughts are going a hundred miles per hour, yet at the same time my brain feels strangely empty.

I'm not the same person I was- whether they have changed or not isn't important. I have changed.

I'm not that girl.

I am safe.

I am going to be okay.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Somewhere Between Black and White...

...there lies a vanilla latte.



More on this later...

A comment on yesterday's post made me really think about this "all or nothing" mentality I have. Particularly around the current issue of my routine. I seem to feel the need to structure literally every single minute of my life, or throw all my rules out the window and have no structure to my days at all. Part of the problem is that I don't really *have* a focus right now, so I have put in place my own timetable to give my day some kind of purpose and meaning. Which is pretty meaningless (seriously- how much satisfaction do I get from having half a cup of coffee at precisely 'x o' clock'?)

There definitely is something to be said for having a life worth living. Reasons to get out of bed each morning, a purpose to every day life. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to DO with my life, what form I want my existence to take. Right here, right now, I'm struggling to fill my time with things that aren't to do with weight/food/exercise. I don't know if spending so much time in hospital has something to do with this- several years of being told when I can and cannot eat/sleep/smoke/pee must have had some kind of impact to my institutionalised style of living? Maybe. Maybe not.

I find it really hard to know WHAT to do with my time if it's not all mapped out for me. I get security and comfort from knowing exactly what's happening and when, but "life" isn't about abiding my arbitrary rules and regulations- it's about pursuing passions, spontaneity, enjoyment, meaning. So yes, security and comfort, but it's suffocating and exhausting. I forget to schedule in relaxation or leisure. When I have additional structure (school/work/appointments), I forget to schedule in life-sustaining things like food/sleep (sounds bizarre, but it's been my biggest downfall when I HAVE been working or studying- eating and sleep aren't on the top of my priority list).

What do you guys do when you have a day with nothing planned How do you fill your time?

Anyway, more on this another time most probably.

**************

This weekend, the lovely Sam and I compiled lists of "fear foods" we are going to tackle together. Our lists were pretty similar, and today we decided to take the "liquid calorie" challenge. I have an intense fear of being hungry (oh, the irony...) so I avoid calories in liquid form because I am scared that my body won't recognise it as "fuel" and I'll miss the sensation of eating solid food. Today I faced that fear. The original plan was to have a frappuccino, but after walking to Starbucks in the snow, something hot was much needed! Actually lattes are more of a challenge for me because frappuccinos are semi-solid. It was absolutely delicious. Warm and sweet and comforting. I forced myself to drink black coffee for years, then decided that was too cliche ("the anorexic who drinks black coffee and eats lettuce") so started adding a splash of milk. I've never really experienced coffee drinks beyond adding cinnamon and a little milk, but wow...this latte to my coffee to a whole new level. This will be repeated!


I worked in Starbucks for a while so have made loads of different drinks, but never tried most of them- what do you guys recommend I try?


This is the view of the castle through the Starbucks window:


Lol- you can see my reflection :P (and Sam- that's the sofa you should be sitting on!)

My morning also included this bowl of delicious wonder...

In da mix...

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • skim milk
  • banana
  • vanilla, cinnamon, pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter drizzled on top

Love it.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, 9 March 2009

A Week In Review

Thank you so much for your feedback on yesterday's post- I was worried about offending people. I have a LOT of respect for all the bloggers out there and am glad that I have your support in keeping the focus of this blog on *me* and my recovery.

So it's been a week since I moved into my apartment. It definitely feels like "home", but to be perfectly honest, I am really struggling with a few things and am surprised to look back at quite how much has changed in the past week.

I have a lot of trouble with OCD-like rituals and routines. I don't HAVE OCD, and when I am at a healthier weight, my symptoms pretty much disappear. At lower weights, they become more and more entrenched. Part of why it was so hard for me living with family was due to the fact that my obsessions and purely focused around food/drink (timings, what I do when I eat/drink, my plates/food/blah blah). It threw up a lot of challenges being with other people and the occasional disruption to my routines.

Being by myself, there ARE no disruptions. I have free reign, or at least, anorexia does. I've fallen into a very rigid structure that I didn't quite realise until last night when my mom suggested meeting for coffee on Wednesday (cue: panic/terror/"can't drink coffee at suchandsuch a place at suchandsuch a time"). I sat with the anxiety for a couple of hours, my head spinning, thoughts racing about how I would manage, how it would affect the rest of my day, etc, and eventually decided it was too much for me to deal with.

Two weeks ago, with a little notice, I could have quite easily shifted things around and gone out at a time that isn't normal for me, and now? I can't even fathom the idea of breaking my routine. I usually see my therapist on Tuesday mornings- this week it happens to be an afternoon appointment so I cancelled. I cancelled the meeting to discuss my craziness due to my craziness.

Alarm bells are going off in my head- I went on a "spree" this afternoon and cancelled my dentist appointment, the scheduled endoscopy I have next week, officially let my tutor know I am not coming back to class. Then carried on my day with my usual...

  • 3pm- xxx
  • 3:15- yyy
  • 3:25- zzz
  • 3:27- cigarette (yes, I have set times for cigarettes too)
This is just...surreal. I didn't even notice this was happening, and now am back in the rigid structure that inevitably interferes with any hope I have of branching out and doing new things. I've also (trigger warning) lost what I guess is a "considerable" amount of weight given that it's only been a week. I'm not quite sure HOW (unless cheese is some miracle weight loss food?), but there is no doubt in my mind that the rigidity correlates with the weight loss. I feel so trapped right now. Terrified to break the routines I have set up, terrified to change what I am eating, terrified to let this carry on any longer. Now that I am aware of it, I feel obligated to CHANGE it. Because it's crazy and soul-destroying and making my "home" feel more like a prison. But at the same time, I'm not even sure how this happened so have no idea where to start unravelling it. I feel like anorexia has tied me up and is hitting me with a stick right now.
I think a lot of the initial anxiety stems from being alone in an new area. I have a lot of bad memories of this city and it's been really stressful for me to be by myself in an area that I don't know- I don't know how safe it really is, I don't know who lives around here and I am not yet familiar with the buses/"escape routes". I have no reason to believe that this IS an unsafe area, but I have no proof to the contrary. Oh, ever the optimist, eh?

For those of you who have asked about where I live: it is, by definition, "supported housing". What that means is my apartment is owned by a charity (rather than landlord) and they offer support with practical (and supposedly emotional) issues. In practice, this means that a support worker comes to see me a couple of times a week and check that I am okay/point me in the direction of community activities/sort out any repairs that need done in the apartment. It's a one bedroom furnished place in a residential block.

So that's my ramble/update on where things are right now. I'm not quite sure what to do at this point- hope that in time the anxiety lessens/I feel safer and can make some changes? Set some small goals? To be honest, I am bored to tears at the thought of "baby steps". I'm tempted to just rip up the mental schedule I have and say, "to hell with it" but I'm not sure that's the most effective approach.

Ack.

I do believe that awareness is the first step to change, and at least now I see what is happening (oh awareness, how I love you- if only you were ENOUGH!)

On to more fun stuff.

I am a firm believer that if you have a specific craving, it's because your body needs some sort of nutrient. Today I had a random craving for raisins. I generally crave non-typical things: top of my list are mushrooms, dried fruit and yogurt. I can live with that.

So back to raisins. I really wanted to mix raisins with strawberry yogurt, but was waiting for my bus and didn't have much time so grabbed something new for today's snack:



I've seen these but never looked too closely because I figured if I want dried fruit, I'll incorporate it into breakfast. If I want a bar, I want some protein power. But cravings are cravings and on closer inspection, aside from the chocolate, the ingredients were just dried fruit and flax seeds.



Photogenic, no? Lol. It was "okay". I think it would be good in oatmeal or something- sickeningly sweet. And trust me- coming from the girl who puts 12 sweeteners in her coffee, that says something! Or maybe I am just used to artificial sweeteners and not so much "natural" sugar (each little finger was classed as one bar- tiny, but essentially pure dried fruit). Am I glad I tried it? Yes. Would I buy it again? Unlikely. Raisins and yogurt would have been a better choice! Edited to say: maybe it's two fingers because one bar is enough sweetness?

I did want to title this post "Ch-easy Like Monday Morning", but this was actually dinner (I told you I can't cook!) It has been in every post- I can't do cheese at breakfast! Need me some FAGE/fay-eh (or whatever it's called) in the morning.



Yes, I did it again. I think I can confidently say that I am kind of bored with this now. I stuck the rest of my bag of cheese in the freezer- assuming it will be okay? My mom freezes her kosher cheese (presumably made by milk that comes from from matzoh ball fed cows) so I think I relax in the knowledge that cheesy apple oats are in my future.

Apologies for weird formatting- blogspot is giving me no end of trouble tonight!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Stay True To You

...easier said than done when you don't really know who you are.

Just when I thought I had nothing to say, I have the urge, once again, to spill my thoughts onto virtual paper.

I've been thinking more and more about the post I wrote a few days ago- how I want, so badly, to fit in. I feel like a complete misfit most of the time. I don't fit in with "normal" people, I don't fit in with "sick" people. I'm somewhere in between starting recovery and being solidly in recovery, and it's lonely as hell.

Part of this is prompted by the pictures I have been taking of my food. I really want to have a food blog one day, and I'm not sure why. For a LONG time, I've been reading some of the food blogs that have been around for a couple of years and I really look up to these people as role models for what a "non-eating disordered" person eats in a day. Perhaps morbid curiosity, perhaps malnutrition-induced food obsession, or perhaps I just have a genuine passion about food/nutrition/life. I don't know at this point.

This is not a food blog.

As much as that is what I *want* one day, I'm not there yet. And I'm not going to pretend to be. I don't WANT to be viewed forever as "the anorexic who eats". I used to have major struggled with self-harm- it's NOT a part of my life anymore. I don't think about it, I don't read about it, my ears don't prick up when it's mentioned/brought up. It's a complete non-issue for me. I don't think I'll ever be that with with food and eating because there is no way around food in everyday life, but also because I've always been interested in food/eating/nutrition/cooking. My family love to eat, my parents love to cook. There has been a strong emphasis on food for my entire life, and I'm okay with that. It's part of who I am. Anorexia ISN'T, and this blog is about my journey towards recovery. It won't turn into a food blog- when I am at the stage where I am doing well and have a healthy relationship with food, I'll start a new blog.

I look up to a lot of the bloggers as role models- rarely comment on their blogs, but love hearing about their attitudes to their meals and their lives, the ups and downs that EVERYONE has, whether they have some emotional issues or not. Life is life, with all it's ups and downs. I've started commenting more on these blogs because that's what I am striving for: balance, moderation, a level of self-acceptance that I am okay with, a way to juggle the trials and tribulations that the world brings.

I am SO grateful for the people who take the time to read my blog and comment- you guys are great and I can't tell you how much it means that you have read and commented about the journey I am on, and to those of you who are travelling alongside me.

I spoke a few days ago about how I was feeling like I am relying too much on "blogosphere" for some kind of...i don't know. Something it can't be, because it's not fair to any bloggers and it's not fair to me. My blog is about my journey from "sick" to "well" and I need to keep reminding myself that it's NOT about how many responses I get/how much feedback I get/who has or hasn't commented. This isn't about any of YOU GUYS, it's about my own head twisting things around and turning my sole source of uninterrupted (by ED) place to talk openly and I can't let anorexia take over this space too.

I have received a few hurtful comments over the last few weeks here and that's kind of what's prompted this. the entire focus of my blog has changed over the last few months- a GOOD thing because it was more a kind of "woe is me/life is crappy/pity party" before and now I am really spilling my thoughts into good ol' blogspot. But I can't let it change into something I don't want it to BE. I can write for an audience (hell, it's what my jobs have been) but my blog isn't work. My blog is the thoughts and feelings and events that shape MY life, and I need to keep it that way.

I am still going to post pictures- probably food, maybe some other stuff. I am still going to read the same blogs, comment on the same ones I have been. I just wanted to write *something* to remind MYSELF what the purpose of my blog is, and I hope you DO continue reading and commenting because this is a lonely road and I know I'm not the only one walking down it.