So this morning was my first weigh-in since my initial admission weigh-in. We got woken up at 7am, sent to the bathroom, and bleary-eyed stood up on the sales, spun around and sent back to bed again, ruffled and slightly confused. I didn't actually remember it had happened until some time mid morning, at which point I felt like it had only just happened; and I was DELIGHTED with myself. I have put on over a kilogram since my arrival. Even more then that, it's the first time I've seen that number on the scales go up rather than down in about 7 months. Eureka! The programme works!
Shortly after this I met with *Áine, the resident dietician. This was intense. She started off by asking about my childhood eating habits (vague answer), my parent's eating habits (vague answer), my years through primary school (vague answer), through to secondary school, where I had more of an idea of what my eating habits were like. I actually realised things that were behaviours from a young age that collectively, along with the depression and anxiety I began to suffer with when I was around sixteen that led towards me using food and eating as a coping mechanism. My anorexia didn't begin in it's full blown capacity until I was about twenty-one, though I had no idea that there was anything wrong with my behaviour. Everyone was on a diet, there were seven diets in every magazine, there was a low-fat variety of every food type and the less you ate the more praise you received for your self control. My weight was visibly low by the time I was twenty-two but I never saw this as a negative and I still had no idea that there was anything disordered about my eating. In fact, I had never received so many compliments. "You look amazing", "you look like a model", "I hate you, how is your figure so perfect?", "You're so lucky, you are so thin." I would respond that I'm on a diet and be immediately scoffed at, told I was perfect and didn't need to be on a diet. Did they not realise that my collar bones don't stand out on their own? That my jeans don't sit stretched across protruding hips by doing something crazy like eating? The dissatisfaction I felt with my life was validated by two things; my life as a (poor, underpaid) actor, and my tiny frame. My life as an actor was determined by other people; you show up to an audition, do your best, face your judgment, await your validation. But, my diet was my comfort, my constant validation in a world where I was unable to validate myself and my own feelings and emotions. This was something I didn't realise until my first admission and forced confrontation with my illness. My first day as an inpatient was the first time someone told me I was anorexic and I was genuinely shocked. I thought I had some 'issues' with food but nothing so sinister as anorexia. Speaking with Áine today made me realise that I had reverted once again to using food as a coping mechanism, as my safety net in a world where I was in freefall. We moved on to discuss where my meal plan was to go and I was happy to be told I could move up to the next meal plan, the Amber meal plan (success!).
I was very keen to move up from the initial Red meal plan. I was ready for the challenge of having two snacks of solid food a day instead of two liquid snacks, and to have one full portion meal amongst my other half-portion meals. I also managed to wrangle one piece of fruit a day, something not usually allowed until a later meal plan. I left the meeting delighted and skipped down to my half portion lunch, knowing I would be having a snack and full portion tea later.
I made it to snack time, tucked into my soy yoghurt, half-cranberry juice-half-water drink and my decaf coffee. Suddenly, something was wrong. My can-do attitude was wavering and I felt full, far too full. I needed to run from this feeling. I pulled on my coat, tried to stuff my blue hair under my hat so I wouldn't be noticed or recognised and made for the exit. I'm Level 2, that means I'm not allowed off the ward at all yet, but here I was tearing up the road like a fugitive on the run. I ran into the nearest shop, realised I had forgotten my purse, scraped together €1.50 in small change and coppers from the bottom of my hand bag and bought a box of cheap mince pies (it's still November). Knowing I had those in my bag I was calm. The next time I felt something creeping up that I didn't like they would be there for me.
I was not ready for how full I felt after the full portion tea I was so ready for six hours earlier. I snuck to my curtained cocoon in the four-bed dorm, barricaded myself behind pillows, bags and of course, my trusty handbag, and ate all six of my emergency mince pies. Feeling even fuller, I calmly took a drink of water, anxiety almost gone knowing what was about to happen, walked into the bathroom and threw up my six emergency mince pies. Unfortunately it was so close to tea I lost most of that too, it and it's precious, nutritious calories. The sense of calm that flooded through me made that fact irrelevant; I felt relaxed, soothed, in control.
The sense of ease and accomplishment I had been feeling up to this point was based on a foundation of bog and quicksand and it was only a matter of time before it wobbled. The emotions that were stirred up by my hour and ten minutes with Áine were more than enough to tip the balance of my false sense of stability.
This is not going to be as much of a breeze as I thought. It is not going to be a case of consuming plenty of calories and resuming my life, cured. I don't even know the feeling that triggered this slip-up; I need to learn how to identify my emotions so I can deal with them properly, healthily and mindfully, not through comfort eating and purging or restricting. I'm going to have to work as hard as I can to remain mindful thoughout the day, to maintain CONSTANT VIGILANCE (thanks Mad-Eye!) in tracking my emotions and the impulses I feel in relation to them.
For now, I'm breathing out today- I'm giving up my sense of guilt and failure to the universe, I'm breathing in positivity, I'm opening myself up to a new day tomorrow and a new chance to nourish and heal my body and mind.
As always, if you have any questions please ask. Like and share, we're spreading this word and we are ending this stigma, and every little step counts.
Thank you for your support my Yogilateral Warriors. You are my inspiration as always.
Love you all,