I have been AWOL, I’m sorry. I am in a very overwhelming headspace and the soup inside my head is quite hard to pick coherent words from! Thus hard to blog. I have been journaling a little, which I hope I can share with T, though because there are so few words there are far too many doodles and stick drawings.
I am going to split this essay I’ve just typed into separate posts: nobody wants to read a wall of text! I also seem to have collected a group of followers with ED, so I hope that splitting eating from generalised therapy will make it easier to read!
Tackling my Eating
T suggested to me this week that only eating 5 maltesers in a day probably isn’t enough to sustain me, and certainly not enough to allow for emotional stability. She is possibly, maybe, right…. and she posed a challenge for me to eat one healthy thing this week and not throw it up. (The reflection on how this has affected our relationship is in the other post!)
This has been a much greater challenge than I expected this week.
After our session, I drove to the supermarket, bright eyed and full of hope. All that energy escaped through my pores the minute I hit the fruit and veg aisle, as all those dangerous and unhelpful thoughts filled the gaps: is fruit healthy? how many people have touched the fruit? does that man think my shopping trolley is full of fat foods? he must think I’m a greedy pig…. and so on. I threw a load of food into the trolley and staggered out of the shop.
When I got home, I evaluated the healthy food I’d bought. I sort of decided that one item of fruit a day would suffice for this week – it’s only small. I stood in my kitchen, clinging to the work surface like a limpet, trying to persuade myself that fruit is healthy, it isn’t dirty or dangerous, and it won’t kill me. My delightful mother, on one of my many spells of dieting, told me that fruit was a bad food because it was full of sugar, so whilst I was stood looking at the pears, plums and apples, all I could see was my number on the scales going up and up.
I let T2’s voice take over for a bit (oh, how I miss her), and reminded myself that she told me fruit was healthy and she wouldn’t lie to me. I know she eats fruit and she’s skinny and lovely. So, I washed the apple 4 times, then sliced it up, and ate it. *fireworks*
Since then, I’ve eaten another apple and two plums. I have noticed a few things that are not healthy eating activities. The first is that I am absolutely phobic about texture. The thought of eating a bruised bit, or accidental touching the core of an apple, or finding a pip, makes me want to vomit until I can’t breathe. This isn’t just a fruit thing, this issue with texture is a regular phobia of mine! But it seems to be worse with fruit. My biggest issue this week has been overcoming the risk of a surprising texture. I don’t actually know what to do about this… But I’m pleased I’ve recognised it.
This week is the first time ever I have kept a food diary. This has had the interesting side effect of basically stopping my vomiting outright. I have had one vomit, but otherwise, knowing exactly what I’ve eaten has ‘cured’ this. Again, this isn’t a simple or long term fix, but I have been sick once this week compared to over 20 times last week – which must be doing my insides some good. It is also interesting to track my binges – I’ve only eaten one item I’ve regretted this week (a pack of mini Freddos!) but, overcoming the intense shame of writing that down in black and white, then analysing why it happened, has allowed me to be more hyper aware of what I’m consuming. Don’t get me wrong, the pull to just stop in at the supermarket and secretly eat has still been there in its usual intensity – but this week I haven’t succumbed. Yay me.
For the sake of balance, I will tell about the one purging incident. We went to a friend’s wedding, and I knew nobody there. I felt like the fattest, most disgusting, obese whale and like I was the biggest person in the room. I felt like all the skinny girls the bride is friends with were looking at me and judging me. I felt like I looked like a sack compared to my beautiful boyfriend. Then we sat down for dinner and it just got worse. You can’t leave food at a wedding, it’s rude. I couldn’t finish the soup, and got strange looks, so when the beef came I was in sheer panic. I cannot eat fat (read: texture scares me) so I had to leave the fat, only to be asked by the waiter if I was happy with my meal. Then it was sticky toffee pudding which was gorgeous but seriously the size of my hand – everyone was having seconds whilst I couldn’t bring myself to finish my portion in case people were jeering at me, ‘no wonder she’s fat if she can eat all that’. Then chocolate truffles! Oh god it was a nightmare. We left just after the first dance, and I cried all the way to our hotel room. In our bathroom, when my boyfriend was asleep, I puked and puked and puked some more. Then I sat on the bathroom floor, drank a whole bottle of water, saw The Boy, and puked that up too. I vomited until I was throwing up blood and mucus, and was completely sure I was empty.
Then I slept, and woke up at 3am with a headache so severe my boyfriend had to go in his PJs to the tesco express to buy me painkillers. The headache lasted until well into the next afternoon, and was a sobering and painful reminder of the damage I am doing to my body.
It seems inappropriate to say ‘but things really are better!’ when I half killed myself on Saturday night. I am terrified of telling T on Friday. But there will be slips and trips along the way, and the dramatic reduction in my binging and purging is surely a good sign.
Anyone who agrees with me, I’ll buy you a pack of mini Freddos!
The last bit about my eating for this week: I went to the ED support group again last night. It was a horrid experience this time, as one girl was very poorly (and very stoned) so talked almost non-stop in a very triggering fashion for the whole hour. I dissociated, and had to ask the group leader, L, to sit with me, and eventually I left the room to calm down. L followed me and was very reassuring, reminding me that they can help me and that I will get better. I am making a friend in this group, M, who is absolutely lovely and held my hand throughout yesterday. On the way out the door, L hung back with me, and gave me a piece of paper from her pocket. She told me she was going to use it in the group, but she wanted me to have it. I was so touched by this gesture, and even more so when I read it when I got home. It says,
“I refuse to be defined by my past, the size of my jeans, the number on a scale, or the opinion of others. I am an amazing, unique, and worthwhile person just as I am, here, now, as I stand before you today. I am a work in progress, ever growing, ever changing, ever moving forward. I am an amazing individual worthy of respect, love, and joy. My journey is no less important than your own. I do not seek your approval or permission to be who I choose to be. I am walking my own path at my own pace.”
How beautiful is that? She really reminded me that there are beautiful, supportive people in the world. She’s only spoken to me once before this group, then sat with me yesterday, but that’s hardly forever. Really quite overwhelmed and thrilled by her gesture. So even though we didn’t really cover very much, except I suppose the idea that we control eating because we feel out of control otherwise, it was a positive group and I feel like I’ve found a little safe bubble there. They’re due to assess me soon, once I’ve built up the courage to have my health check up they require, so hopefully there will be support there soon on a more intensive, one to one basis.
So that’s it for the moment! Now I’m off to eat a pear.