Monday, 25 January 2016

Are we glamourising recovery?

There is something I have been wanting to address. We all know anorexia is glamourised, the media, pro-Ana websites, celebrities, models; anyone who is or is close to someone suffering from an eating disorder will know it's far from glamorous. It isn't all diet cokes and denim shorts! But this isn't what this post is about. I tend to be erratic in these blog posts I have a plan to write something and then go into a tangent about something else, so focus now Natasha! 

One thing I have noticed in the recovery community is the glamorisation of recovering from an eating disorder and this is something I have definitely fallen for in the past. I remember looking at Instagram accounts and tumblr blogs thinking I wish I had done it like that and I was angry at going inpatient and eating the horrible food. Even while I was relapsing I remember thinking I'm going to do it properly this time and in some ways I do still think that.

You see the pretty Instagram pictures #realrecovery #chocolateovered and what not we have seen them all before a plate full of #foodporn for a meal or snack and you think to yourself that looks so good. Sometimes this is accompanied by a caption about great recovery is or how hard a challenge this was. While I love these accounts because they inspire me to push my boundaries and respond to my hunger cues, but where do we draw the line? 

From an outsider looking in recovery isn't all fear food challenges  and pretty plates of food. The harsh reality is that sometimes it's crappy looking food which you hash around with and then start hyperventilating at. It's scrapping your plate clean despite feeling greedy or wiping the microwave clean after your hot milk overflowed again (ahem or is that just me?).

What I am trying to say is, that recovery accounts  can be amazing let's put the triggering stuff aside for a moment as they can give you food ideas, make you feel less alone and really inspire you to move forward in your recovery, but no recovery is perfect. If there was a perfect one size fits all formula I definitely would be buying it, I guess a part of it is trial and error and finding what works for you.

I won't stop following these accounts because they do inspire me. I am sure to some degree it is my unhealthy preoccupation with food which wants me to constantly look at these but I know with nourishment this will stop. I do feel like these accounts have inspired me to push through and challenge a lot of the behaviours I still had when I was in recovery before. It is inspiring to watch others doing it. I guess like with all things related to social media it is good to remember this is just a small fraction of someone's lives and they will only post what they want to show you (I'm not judging hey no one wants to see a just woken up selfie of me!).

Keep fighting however you're doing as long as you're doing it! 

My first day at the unit

So today felt a bit like school lots of nerves the night before and I couldn't sleep.

So how was it? The patients were really nice, it was good because we seem all a similar age which is nice and it is different to an inpatient setting which I appreciate. I think I bring up being an inpatient a lot but I think it's because of where I am at now. It's like what I compare it too. I had my therapy session with A afterwards and we drew a lot of comparisons between and now. I guess like today we went to the canteen and J did a one to one lunch with me, I didn't think this was needed to be honest. So we headed off as planned and then I looked at the options for my lunch and let's just say I was very grateful for the one to one. J really helped me narrow down my choices, we picked a ham and cheese toastie. My first thought was to choose a lower calorie sandwich but I do like ham and cheese toastie, cheese is high in fat it's a well known fact but that is no reason not to eat it. I know I like this sandwich so why wouldn't I eat it. I had this with a fruit muller corner and an apple. Now this with regards to calories is a lot more than I'm used too, but do you know what I managed and I'm still here and yes I ate it all. I can't say I tasted it properly the anxiety took over and it was just a bit of a blur but it was warm and comforting. I did see the numbers I was trying consciously to not look but when the packet was on my tray I saw the bright red warning signs. 

Last time I did chose easier options and at the time it worked, it got me through, but this time I want to challenge those fears and normalise my eating. I mean today is the first day and I'm not sure if this positive outlook will last, but as I said to Amanda I can't do the same thing and expect a different outcome.

After I left the unit today I spoke to my sister and went to the nail salon to have my nails done which I never do! It was spontaneous, I'm notoriously known for having horrid hands I don't have good nails and my skin is awfully dry from cleaning and washing constantly. So it was nice to treat a neglected part of my body. I'm very happy with the outcome.

I hope this is the start of something different...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Everything is starting to fall in place (TW)

So as I have mentioned a few times I've been on the waiting list to start the day program at the eating disorder clinic, last week Friday I had my assessment and was accepted onto the program. I am due to to start on Monday, so I had this week to tie everything up at work. Heck it was a hella of lot more notice then when I was admitted for inpatient so I wasn't going to complain, plus I was glad things were being put into place so quickly.

I met with the dietitian, A, today, she is fairly new to the service and I haven't worked with her before. A is very different to T but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, a lot more blunt which I wasn't expecting and she definitely brought me down a peg or two!  Although be fair I think needed it. We set up a meal plan as to what I will be eating when I start the program next week. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. I feel scared and upset as I'm not happy with the options I have picked for my plan. It's all just so confusing, we have to have a milky drink with a food snack. Apparently a milk drink isn't considered snack, which is fine by me, but also new to me! When I was on the ward the majority of my snacks were drinks, but hey ho I will go with it! So I thought I would share what my new plan is; I am not going to share breakfast and dinner, as this maybe triggering and for now these won't be changing.

Breakfast: same as before (at home)
Morning snack: whole milk with coffee and either a banana or 2 biscuits (at the day unit) 
Lunch: bought from the hospital canteen is a sandwich with a protein filling, Muller Corner yoghurt/milky drink and fruit (at the day unit) 
Afternoon snack: whole milk with coffee and either a banana or 2 biscuits (at the day unit) 
Dinner: same as before (at home)
Evening snack: semi skimmed milk with an options hot chocolate and a 2 finger Kit Kat (at home)

Now big TW compared to what I have been eating this feels so overwhelming, A said compared to what the other patients are having this is a very low meal plan and she's really going to have to justify it to the team why I am having so little. She said she wants to make it manageable for me so that I don't go home and end up skipping everything also so that she knows I can follow it on the weekend. A said her main aim was to stop the weight loss, I put weight on easily, so this won't only just stop it! I will more than likely gain quite a bit just from this urgh.

A was also concerned that as my intake has been so low for so long that I would be at a small risk of refeeding syndrome which I didn't think would be possible at this weight! I remember it being an issue when people were admitted but I was surprised to learn that I could still be at risk.

I feel scared and it's all becoming a bit too real (plus I hate whole milk! It's not an anorexic dislike, I genuinely do not like whole milk, I never have). Tomorrow is my last day at work, my manager and team have been beyond lovely and supportive and even bought me a lovely present after our team meeting on Wednesday.

Oh god what am I doing, how did I get myself in this mess? :( 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Today, I remember

Today marks the three year anniversary of when I was admitted as an inpatient. My whole life changed.

It wasn't just about starting recovery and the eating disorder, while of course this played a huge part in it. It marks so many changes; when my sister and I estranged from our family, when I moved out of my family home and became independent, where we acknowledged and learnt so much about ourselves.

A lot happened after I was admitted into hospital and like many other people many aspects of my life changed.

I still remember a lot about that day. I remember what I was wearing, what I ate, how I felt, the weather.

I remember the cab journey to the hospital, where I had to sit in the front of the car because the nice cab driver said the backseat was very cold. It had been snowing and the floor was covered in a thick layer of snow and ice.

I remember being escorted to my room where I was searched and in my innoncence of the system was completely open and wouldn't have even thought to hide anything in my bags.

I remember eating the veg stew followed by lemon cake and custard.

I remember being weighed right after my lunch and for this reason weighing a kilo heavier, which made my bmi slighter high which haunted me as this was what was recorded on all my forms.

I remember being given milk and repeatedly stabbed for blood, where I was so emicated the doctor couldn't draw blood from me.

I remember walking round my room after dinner for 30 minutes while Eastenders played in the background, while I tried to burn calories, and wondered why I felt so exhausted.

I remember the other patients saying hello and being horrified about how thin they all were.

I remember my sister coming to see me and the nurses laughing about how much stuff I had brought with me. I smiled shyly and said this was actually the second load and I had brought a lot already, I was never one to pack light.

I remember feeling numb and so far removed, telling my sister I didn't understand why I was here when the day before I had been so clear about needing the help and coming in.

I remember my sister taking off her Tiffany necklate and putting it around my neck saying she was always close to me. I still wear that necklace and never take it off.

I remember one of the elderly patients screaming about custard, who in the end I became so fond of.

I remember lying in the stiff sheets and not really understanding what was happening.

Tomorrow I am being assessed for the day patient unit, almost three years on...what am I doing with my life?

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Treat yourself as you would treat a friend

I have been feeling quite down lately, especially about the fact I haven't been able to make any changes myself. Like I complain about horrible I feel and how I just want someone to make it stop, but still I do not take any steps to change it. I know what to do, I know the anxiety will ease and it will get easier, but still I choose to remain in this endless cycle.

An eating disorder is not a choice but recovery is, that's what they say isn't it? Recovery is a choice, but what about when you don't feel like it is a choice. When your mind is so wrapped up in the eating disorder, that every time you try to reach out and break free you hit a glass wall. I feel trapped in my own mind and in the eating disorder, but it's also comfort. I'm not going to deny that. There is something comforting about this. It's familiar and let's be honest, it's easier. Shall I tell you what frustrates me is when people don't try they make no effort in their recovery, they just expect it to get better. The stay at a low weight, exercise, eating pitiful  amounts #realrecovery and then complain that they don't feel any different that there is no "cure" for this illness. By saying that there is no "cure" it gives them permission to carry on, well if I'm not going to get better why bother trying. It's like being given the golden ticket, pass go do not collect 200 calories. So am I a hypocrite? Definitely. Do I agree with that way thinking? Definitely not. I've been told by professionals that I may never be completely recovered, that I could be a lot happier but deep down it will always be there and it is about learning to control the anorexia, and not letting it control me. I don't feel knowing this that I have a free pass to just keep restricting, in fact the opposite it just means I need to learn how to keep it in check, and like with all things the more you do it the better you will become. Eventually I will to do it without thinking about it.

My problem is that I though I was immune to relapse, despite being told by my medical team that I wasn't. I didn't think I was immune because I was so strong and recovered, no, it's because I wasn't strong enough for anorexia. I was too weak minded to be able to restrict and lose weight, I had lost my will power. The voices in my head laughed at me, told me my one stint hospital was a one off there wasn't really anything wrong with me, it was just a "phase". And this is why I was so sure I would never relapse. I would have bet my life on it.

So I digress. So I was thinking about how angry I was at myself. I wanted to punish myself. Then I read this blog post by Life without anorexia, which talks about treating yourself as you would a friend. Now I think we all know this advice but we all need reminding sometimes.

So I took a step back and thought about what I would say to my friend J, who also suffers from anorexia. I would tell J, that no one would choose to live like this and I understand that every day is a struggle. When the thoughts are so loud you can't hear or do anything else, when it is all so powerful that you become powerless. You feel controlled, someone is dictating to you and slowly over time in the process you have lost the essence of who you really are. I would tell her to try because I love her and I hate seeing what is happening to her. I would reassure J that I understand that it's not easy to just try, when the thoughts and anxiety is so overwhelming that you can't think past the next minute. When your body is making all its decisions on instincts and you're on survival mode, but the problem is that it is confused and thinks of food as the threat. A threat similar to poison or consuming acid. So you run. I would tell J she needs more support and that I'm always here for her not matter what, to speak about how she is feeling or for some distraction.

Sometimes we all need a bit of care and love.

So every so often, just stop take a breath and think if I was [insert friend's name here] what would I tell them?

It's got to be worth a try right?