2017 The Year of the Wolf

Christmas is over, New Year is over, hello 2017!

I was really worried coming up to Christmas this year, it was going to be a totally different Christmas to any we would have had before. Mine is a family of four and we are extremely close; we share everything with one another and we can always rely on one another for support, day or night. There is only just over a year between my brother and I and he is my best friend. The four of us are actually friends, my brother and I and my Mam and Dad. I’m not sure that everyone can say that, and I always feel so lucky that we have that dynamic. Christmas was always a really big deal in our house, from putting out the Advent Calendar, then would come the tree (always my job) and the lights (always the boys’ job), whileMammy would be making thirty puddings and syringing whiskey into her Christmas cake. This year, not only was I not around since I’m in hospital, but my brother wasn’t around either. He’s working in Oz right now, so his Christmas was spent on the beach in Melbourne, while the three of us had to make a new day for ourselves; to have a special Christmas in its own unique way even though I was sticking to a strict meal plan and we were missing our Number Four. Christmas morning wasn’t our norm, but it wasn’t sad or lonely feeling like I was afraid it might be. I think the three of us were just so happy that I was allowed to go home, that we could Skype The Boy, that following a tradition didn’t matter. Mam, Dad and I had a cup of tea (In the kitchen, because there’s a new cream suite in the living room so there is absolutely NO FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED IN THE LIVING ROOM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Stupid cream suite…) and then went into the cream-suited sitting room to open our presents. We still always say our presents are from Santy, but we hug and kiss and thank one another as we open each one. We were all sufficiently spoilt by Santy this year. Mammy and I even got matching Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, all the better to fall into a sweet food coma in.

Mam made a move to get started on preparing some vegetables (etc), while Dad and I took my baba, my little mutt, Fetch, to the town park for a morning walk. It was so lovely. It was cold but not uncomfortable, just crisp and dry. I hadn’t moved to any great extent since becoming an inpatient and the absolute joy I felt to be out stretching my legs, to be getting moving again and feel my blood pumping and heart thumping was divine. It was and still is a reminder of why I am doing this programme and why I sought help; in the end I was too tired to have done that walk or anything close to it. The tank was empty and I was running on fumes, fumes that were fighting to keep my organs functioning rather than allowing me the energy for things like a walk with my Daddy and my dog.

We usually have Champagne on Christmas morning but that didn’t fit in my meal plan, as was very astutely noticed by mother and father dearest. So post-walk it was time for a snack and a cup of tea. My parents were amazing; they stuck to my meal plan with me. Some people mightn’t have liked this, I know speaking to the other girls when we all arrived back to the hospital that some felt very smothered, others under pressure or like they were being monitored at all times. It seemed for the majority of people that it was a day of pressure, of feeling like they were being watched under a microscope. I didn’t feel like that at all; but my family and I have been through this before. This was not my first Christmas as a recovering anorexic and we made an agreement with one another the last time that we were going to be honest and transparent with one another. In the wake of my relapse, it was my Dad that made me see I was under anorexia’s thumb once again, that I was very sick and that I needed help. It was his courage to tell me the hard truth, to spell it out for me; that if I did not get this under control, this time around it would kill me that finally made me see what I had been blind to. Now, there is an understanding between us. I don’t try to bullshit them because we’ve been through too much together already to do that. As my Daddy always says, we are a team, so they tackled Christmas day right alongside me.

 I’m vegetarian so the justification of having a turkey dwindled rapidly. I believe Mam and Dad had turkey breasts and ham, rather than buying a whole turkey. I had a stuffed pepper- my usual! I didn’t overload my plate, I had a little of everything and I was just nicely full afterwards. We pulled crackers, getting confused when trying to do it all together because The Boy was missing (this should have made no difference to the cracker pulling process).  In the afternoon I had a mince pie for a snack, we ate quiche and salad for tea and for my night-time snack I decided I wanted some of the mother’s Christmas pudding- best decision I made all 2016. An unconventional Christmas day menu perhaps, but this year was the first year in many, many years that I did not throw-up at some point during the day. I felt relaxed, I felt supported, I felt loved and valued, and I felt a sense of self-worth that I hadn’t felt in previous years. Of course after dinner I was extremely full, but, I was able to sit with the sensation of fullness. I was able to curl up on the [cream] couch and tolerate the feeling of being round and bloated. I knew, regardless of whether or not I believed it at the time, that the feeling would pass, and it did. I kept every bite down; I allowed myself to be nourished with wholesome food prepared with love that was going to heal and strengthen me, body and mind. The merit of that goes beyond going a day without purging- it marks a definitive change in my thinking and my ability to decide that I am going to keep my food down, that I need the nutrients and calories and that I deserve the nourishment and health it would bring to me.

We missed The Boy, we were sticking to a hospital meal plan, but still, we had a beautiful Christmas. Hand on heart, it was one of the nicest, most relaxing, loving, comforting days I have had in a long time. We were laughing and smiling all day, I was just glad to be home for Christmas and I guess they were happy I was too.

I came back to the hospital St. Stephen’s morning after my two nights at home and it was a strange, strange experience. The place was pure silent, I went out into the street and even the streets were empty. It was very strange and I found it very disconcerting. I don’t know if it was just because of having been in that little cocoon of home for the previous two days or what, but I was completely freaked. My ward was closed for the Christmas so I was to have my meals on another ward. I stayed in my room all day, didn’t eat and snacks, went when I was called for meals, spoke to no one and retreated back to the room again. I was just off, you know? I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with me, but something freaked me and that triggered something else in my head, etc., etc. That was a day I just had to get through, and that’s what I kept telling myself. I kept repeating the quote from a favourite poem of mine by Walt Whitman;  

These are the days that must happen to you.

The time between then and New Year’s was messy, staff chopping and changing all over the place, usual occupational therapy activities weren’t on, in fact, none of the usual activities were on. I felt anxious the whole time, I just wanted New Year’s to be over so that everything could settle again. That in-between time felt uncomfortable to me, like it was neither one thing nor the other, and it disconcerted me. It was an itch I couldn’t scratch, growing worse and worse until it was bordering on pain. I got over New Year’s, a holiday I’ve always hated anyway, by going to bed at 10pm. Like a champ! I’m a big NYE Grinch and not even a teeny bit sorry about it. Finally, on the Tuesday after the bank holiday, everything began to return to normal. That brings us right up to today, and the end of the first week 2017. We all had our Team Meetings yesterday, as we always do on a Thursday and the team, that being my consultant, her registrar, an advanced nurse practitioner and a nurse off the ward, were happy with my progress. I lost a tiny amount of weight, .2kgs, but it’s a negligible amount. I was however moved up a meal plan- I am now on the Green Meal Plan!! Hurrah! The only difference between it and the previous meal plan is that I have a slice of toast as well as cereal in the morning, I have a full portion instead of a half at lunch, and I have to eat a desert. In theory that doesn’t sound like a whole lot. I wasn’t too worried about it at all, but, oh my goodness, I should have been! I am so, so full, worse than I have ever experienced. I have cramps in my tummy from morning ‘til night, I’m bloated and gassy and generally feel like a disgusting, squidgy, smelly, yucky, roly-poly creature of some sort, like maybe an ugly, round jellyfish or something. I am in the horrors, for sure. ‘These are the days that must happen to you.’ I just need to get through this period until my body gets used to this amount of food and the symptoms will lessen, I know they will. I have to keep reminding myself that that’s how it works- that is, in fact, pretty much the major job of your metabolism; to regulate your body’s response to the intake of food and distribute energy accordingly. So I’m putting my trust in you, Metabolism!! Take away these cramps and this big belly bloat!

I feel like I have waddled my way into 2017, but I’ve started exactly as I mean to go on. Nothing is getting in the way of my plan, which, right now, is to gain weight and get well.  If it feels too hard, do it anyway. If it feels uncomfortable, do it anyway. If your body is telling you it’s too full and you need to purge, don’t. If you think you can’t carry on, put one foot in front of the other and stay going. If you think you’re going to break, stand taller. If someone tells you you’re not good enough, turn your back, they’re not worth it. If someone tries to put you down, you roll your shoulders back and hold your head up high. If you make a mistake, dust off your hands, pick up the pieces and try again. Every time I meet with an obstacle, I plan on dominating it. I will not allow myself to bow and break as I did before. Whatever comes at me, I’m going to come right back at it- and then some.  

My name, Ní Fhaoláin, comes from the old Irish word Faol, meaning wolf. A wolf does not roll over at the first sign of trouble. In times of hardship a wolf does not sit down to die. A wolf is resourceful, instinctual, intelligent, strong, ferocious and brave. In 2017, everything that does not serve my higher purpose, anyone that acts in a way that could bring me harm and any obstacle in my path will be met with the full force of my ferocity; and I myself am only beginning to learn just how vast the extent of that could be.

2017 is going to be the Year of the Wolf!

Comment, share, ask me whatever you like and I'll answer as truthfully as possible. So much love to you all who supported me throughout the Christmas and continue to do so, your kindness lights up my heart everyday, my beautiful Yogilateral Warriors!



Clodagh x 

Clodagh Ní Fhaoláin

Yogipreneur - proud mama to Yogilateral

Hard lover, deep thinker, heavy lifter