Friday, 8 June 2018

Dining room rules

So after the diet coke fiasco I'm back on board.
Inpatient had rules, lots of rules.  Diet coke was not allowed. Neither were any fizzy drinks, sweeteners, skinny versions of hot chocolate, sweets, mints, I think you get the general idea now.
Other rules were classed as 'non-negotables.' No point entering into a discussion about them as you would not be onto a winner.

Dining Room Rules.
Everyone sits down to eat at the same time and have  an agreed start time when staff are seated.  This always didn't work out to plan.
One morning I overslept, was woken by a nurse and staggered to the dining room still with creases on my face.  Luckily I was allowed to eat in a quiet room with support so I didn't disturb others.
Often we were short of staff or they were supporting others who were trying to negotiate the non-negotables.  No point trying, you're not going to win.

We had 35 minutes in which to finish our meal or 20 minutes for snack.
No tissues or napkins were allowed at the table.  Meals had to be eaten with a knife and fork, no cutting food up into very small pieces and only 2 sachets of condiments allowed.
Teaspoons could be used if your pudding came in a pot, otherwise it was a tablespoon for cereal.
We were not allowed to leave the table until either the time was up or everyone had finished.  Very rarely did that happen.
The dining room itself was OK, although a little tight on space when everyone was trying to measure out milk and cereal. Yes, you heard that correctly.....cereal was weighed and milk was measured.
No risk of trying to bend the rules as staff had eyes like hawks, and why would we?  We were all there for the same reason.  To weight restore and get better.  Saying that, there were a few incidents of watered down milk and tampered with cereal!!
We had set places to sit which were changed every week.  Dependant on your support needs you would have a member of staff sat close by to help if you were in distress.  The peer support at mealtimes was amazing and often we supported each other when staff were busy or unaware. Unfortunately many of us kept our distress to ourselves and died slowly and quietly inside.

Dining Room picture courtesy of a wonderful Woman with a wicked sense of humour

Mealtimes as you can imagine was a very anxious and distressing time for all of us.
Re feeding can bring up lots of emotions and for some triggering memories.  I had many of these in the dining room due to memories from certain foods, smells or music.  I dealt with this in not so positive ways so my hands had to be kept above the table whilst I squeezed the life out of a squidgy ball.
As much as I tried to burst the damn ball over a period of 2 months it didn't happen. I was well impressed when a patient told me after my discharge that he had eventually killed it. Good one Sam.
My place at the table had many things that reminded me of why I was there and why I needed to get better. My photo collection grew so large that I practically had built a wall around my placemat.
It looked a little childish but it gave me some focus other than what I was eating....distraction, distraction.

I'm happy to have my cereal teaspoon back, has to be the one with the rounded handle, and my white plate and bowl.  We were allowed to have our own mugs......This is mine.

I mustn't forget the door!!  The dining room door slammed if you didn't close it gently. This as you can imagine be distressing especially if someone is in a constant state of hyper alertness.  The 'please close quietly..I slam' notice got bigger and bigger (courtesy of A) and was still ignored.  The words  'for fucks sake' or 'DOOR' were regularly heard.
I'm sure before I left they had got around to getting it fixed.  Anyone reading who can let me know, please do. :}

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

And so my journey begins.

Distraction, distraction, distraction.  
I'm really struggling with the weight gain at the moment.  What is only a few pounds to me feels like a thousand times that.
I have been laid on the sofa, wrapped in a fluffy blanket. My security blanket.  Post evening meal is always the hardest.  I suggest a nice walk or cycle ride, hubby suggests a bath. Seriously, me going anywhere near the bathroom at this present moment is a recipe for disaster.
In hospital we had to sit with the feeling.  Open posture, one foot on the floor, no security blankets, no fidgeting...breathing was allowed.
I haven't spoken much about the inpatient eating disorders unit on here, so maybe now is the time.
I had a planned admission in July of last year.  Steps unit in Bristol was out of my catchment area but the Exeter Unit had no places until October at the earliest, so Steps it was.
The unit is on the grounds of Southmead Hospital, tucked right away from the main hospital campus.
It was quite easy to find, unless of course you were an Amazon delivery driver. 
I had visited the unit whilst I was at Rydon so it wasn't too much of a shock and I knew what I could not bring.  I had also spoken to staff beforehand and agreed on my preferred meal plan and  possible length of stay.
Some patients only stayed for 4 weeks to get themselves back on track, I opted to give recovery and weight restoration a good go.
I asked Kev to drop me at the door and not wait with me.  Our goodbye at Rydon was traumatic enough, I needed to do this one on my own and I was very very scared.

The unit was aesthetically OK.  I had my own room but no toilet  ( for obvious reasons)
The walls were lilac and this time I had the privilege of coat hangers.  As I was determined to complete the programme, I made my room as pleasant and liveable as possible. Fairy lights on the window, snugly blanket, bright sheets and duvet. 


        The programme is very full on and supports you to challenge thoughts, behaviours and unhelpful thinking styles which after many years are very ingrained.
On that note I am going to pick up on this another day.
I've just realised that the three cans of coke I have drank was not diet, but full fat.  As well as bouncing off the walls like Tigger on speed I am very angry with myself so need to 'sit' with the feelings and unhelpful thoughts. 
I will return......                                      


Monday, 28 May 2018

Friends with benefits.

I bet the title made you look.
Don't worry, I'm not talking about those sort of benefits.
Over the past 8 years I have friended or followed dozens of people within the eating disorders community.  The forums and groups were a safe place to go, not judging, always there and often gave helpful advice and reassurance. (Although I am writing this after being shot down for saying something on a group)

There was always a downside.  Depending on how entrenched I was in my eating disorder I would follow people for the wrong reasons.
I would look at photos of very thin girls, 'thinsperation' as it is known in the pro-Ana community.
I have never been pro-Ana but the pull towards those people was always strong.

Over the years I have learnt that these relationships are not always healthy.  I have always been open to others, made myself available online to those who need to talk but sometimes that needs to stop.
I often go through Facebook and have a friend cull. There's never any malice involved but If I find someones behaviours or attitude too triggering or negative I need to say goodbye.
If there is little benefit to the relationship then they need to go.  I'm sure at times people have done that to me and that's OK.  Its about what is right for you and what is beneficial.
I know I could just stop following but there is always the risk of taking a little peek. A risk I cannot take.

I now have a select number of friends from the ed community on social media, these are my friends with benefits.  Friends from all over the world, people I trust and many I am honoured to have met.
Let me tell you about a few of them...........

Jenn Friedman.
A lovely woman from Brooklyn, New York who I stumbled across in 2010 on an eating disorders recovery forum. She is an amazing writer, singer songwriter and pianist. 
Jenn was part of a blogging group which fuelled my passion for writing.  She and several others took part in a recovery blogging challenge where we were given daily prompts, and shared online.
It was amazing to hear others voices and totally changed my views on a possible recovery.
Her recent album and book she published are pride of place on my bookshelf.  She has the voice of an angel.
I was lucky to meet Jenn in 2016 on her first visit to the UK.  She was everything and more than I expected.  I took her to Glastonbury for the day and we laughed and laughed. I love her accent, the way she says bathroom, how she felt comfortable enough to rest her head on my shoulder on the long bus journey home.  I laughed at her misunderstanding when I said 'Mary Quant.' She is a joy to be around.  I'm sorry she left her cake in the shop but happy that I taught her how to swear in a northern accent.
Jen is now studying in London and we plan to meet next month in Bath.  I cant wait.

I have been chatting to Kathryn online since 2016.  We were both struggling with our eating disorder and at different stages of contemplation.  We were a good support for each other.
I smile when I think of the late night chats, the drunken facetimes and the deep conversations one Christmas day. I was honest with Kathryn and I think she respected that.  I even got away with calling her a knob.
I love the fact that Kathryn savours ever moment with her family, school holidays are full of good memories, she is a strong passionate woman who would do anything for her family.  I value Kathryn's input but she has yet to tell me why shes goes with the nickname of Bruce!
A few weeks ago I took the plunge and travelled to Liverpool to meet her.  A bit strange you may think. Meet a random person and stay at her house.  Isn't that something that my Mother warned me about?
Thankfully she wasn't an axe wielding murderer, just a very friendly, cocktail loving Scouser with a lovely family.
She was an amazing host and I was made to feel at ease as soon as I got to Liverpool.
We had so much in common, even down to her getting ready to go out playlist. I spent a great day with the children and an even better night out hitting the bright lights of Liverpool with K and her Hubby.
We laughed about the 'urban legend' who was a real person, Purple Ackey the bogeyman of Merseyside.  We sang along to the Greatest Showman and I was in awe of her banter with the taxi driver.............
Entertainment and alcohol aside, we clicked.  We had experienced similar things growing up and dealt with it in not so positive ways.  I was amazed at how relaxed I felt especially around food.  They were very accommodating and thoughtful. Her daughter even gave up her room for me, although I did end up with several soft toys and a little girl on the bed in the morning.
Thank you Kathryn and Dave for accepting me into your home.  You are a diamond.

Online friends can be beneficial.... but choose your friends wisely.  

Sunday, 27 May 2018

it is what it is.

You look well?
 What the fuck does that mean?  Can you see inside my head? 
Society today is so hung up on personal appearance.  Photos are filtered, we can choose what to show to the rest of the world.
Social media shows what we want people to see, our perfect worlds, perfect friends, perfect lives.
Nobody really knows what is going on in others lives, its all a big fantasy. 

I live in a bubble, a bubble that my nurse once said she would pop.  My bubble keeps me safe, protects me from others and my own thoughts.
My illness is not all about weight.  If I was to gain 3 stone tomorrow would I be cured. Probably not.

Its not about wanting to stay ill, it's about knowing my limitations and how hard to push myself.
Hospital was a safe environment, one where I could weight restore and not have to deal with the aftermath of feelings on my own.  In the community is not so easy.

My therapist is working on compassion. Supporting me through trauma and all the feelings that sit alongside it.  Its tough.  We don't talk about food, how I'm managing my meal plan or how to move forward with weight gain.  I struggle with this but I am keeping myself safe.  My blood work is on the normal scale, I know what foods to eat to make sure I am getting the right nutrients.  My dietitian is happy.

Food restriction keeps me in control of my emotions, eating sends me into turmoil.
I often overeat and seek permission from my Husband that its OK to do so and I'm not greedy.  He tells me if I'm hungry to eat, this is normal behaviour and I need it. Rice Krispies are currently my go to food.
I have been open about my urges to purge or exercise and have admitted to times when the urges have been so strong I have lost control.
I am pulled in all directions and the slightest thing can send me into over thinking and fight or flight mode.
I need to talk about this as soon as it happens but does that make me needy?  Do I need to validate every single thought.
I hate my brain at the moment but this is all part of my recovery.  I hate how I'm feeling, that I'm not in control of my emotions, that I can break down at the slightest thing and want to run away from it all.
I have the crisis team number and I have come close at times to calling them.....I haven't needed to as I have managed to ride it through.  Not easy in a public place.
Thank you to those who told me last night that they liked my top.

My illness is not all about weight.....It is what it is.


Friday, 25 May 2018

To absent friends.

9 years ago tomorrow I lost my best friend.  In real terms I lost her the year before when our friendship broke down. I have deep regret that we never patched things up before she died but that was a choice I made, and one I have to live with.
I first met X when our children were at Nursery school together.
Our friendship started as a walk to the school, the occasional coffee and developed into something a lot stronger and at the end a very damaging toxic relationship.
We spent a lot of time together and for the majority of the time, things were good.
Our partners got on and we looked forward to Friday nights out, Carnival nights, fireworks, Birthdays and Boxing day celebrations.  We had fun, lots of it.
We shared stories of our pasts, both of us had skeletons and things we would rather forget.  At first it made our relationship stronger but by the end it just gave her further ammunition to hurt me.
I wasn't allowed to have any other friends and she would certainly let me know about it if I dared to speak to anyone whilst we were out.  She would blank me for weeks at a time and in hindsight I think her insecurities were ingrained from an early age.
I tried so hard to please her, to make her feel special but I ignored the warning signs.
I was scared of her.  Scared of her threats but also scared of being alone.
I pulled out all the stops for her 40th Birthday.  We went shopping, lunch out and I arranged a party inviting her family and found an old school friend who was a stripper as entertainment.  It was a joy to see her so happy.
On that day X told me what I was allowed and not allowed to wear at her celebration.

Her health started to deteriorate and she was diagnosed with a heart problem.
I sat in the recovery room with her partner after her operation. Took her in her favourite food and stayed with her for hours at a time.
After her recovery she started to turn her life around, adjusting her diet and stopping smoking.
I was proud of her.
At was at this time that Kev and I were planning our wedding. Best friends should be sharing in the joy and the planning but this wasn't to be.
I can only guess that she was either jealous or upset that we were marrying abroad and couldn't be part of it, despite my attempts to involve her.

In the April of that year was when things went drastically wrong.  It would be unfair of me to go through the details of the catalyst but what evolved was 12 months of abuse, lies, fear and the end of our friendship.
I was scared to go out.  She would come to the Pub I worked on an evening and tell customers lies about me, threaten to beat me up and even came to my house where I just sat and took her abuse.
My Hen Night and Wedding party was tainted with the underlying fear of her turning up and making a show.  Thankfully this didn't happen.

I was sceptical at first of my new evolving friendships as this toxic relationship was all I knew.
How could I trust others? What were their intentions?
I still struggle with this at times and have a great fear of what others may think of me. Certain songs trigger good and bad memories......

My friend continued to struggle with her health and after another heart operation sadly passed away on May 26th 2009.
She had tried to contact me prior to this and had left a message on my phone asking to meet somewhere neutral.  Her partner explained that she wanted to see me as she remembered how I had supported her the previous time.
I chose to ignore her call.  I regret this and wonder what would have changed if I had spoken to her.
I knew I did not want to rekindle the friendship as too much had been said.  There are certain things that can't be unsaid.
I heard about her death on social media, It hit me hard.  I was there for her family, helped with the arrangements as if nothing had changed.
I visited the chapel of rest to say goodbye. Went to her funeral, and drank fizzy wine with a friend to say goodbye to the end of a chapter and toast new beginnings.

I do not believe she was a bad person.  She had been dealt a very tough hand growing up and didn't know how to cope with it. She didn't deserve judgement she deserved help and understanding.
I wish I had given her more of that.

R.I.P you mixed up wonderful Woman. xxx

Monday, 21 May 2018


I have 429 friends on Facebook.

61 were work colleagues
40 I have known for over 20 years.
32 I have never met face to face.
28 don't live in the UK.
26 I went to school with.
17 are friends of friends.
18 I know through groups and forums.
13 are relatives.
12 were in hospital with me.
10 are old friends of Kevs
6 are ambassadors for Body Gossip.
5 I went to church with.
4 I met on holiday.
4 have passed away.
4 have been or are neighbours.
3 I have met at a support group.
2 were in Guides.
2 completed the D of E with me.
2 I speak to on a daily basis.
1 was my first kiss.

So why do I feel so alone?
I know my illness has affected a lot of my relationships, particularly the one with myself.
It has affected the way I feel, how I interact with others, how they interact with me.
Sometimes I feel so needy. I overthink everything. I'm unsure of what is safe to say so as not to hurt others.
My emotions can go up and down on an hourly basis, particularly with my therapy.
I am an unknown quantity. Sometimes the life and soul ,other times I don't want to interact and shut myself off.
I keep a diary of how I am feeling, what triggers certain thoughts and how I react to them.
It is hard.
I have amazing friends who I appreciate and love, so why do I feel I have nothing to offer?
Lack of daily social contact at work has shot my confidence down.
I find it difficult to socialise in large groups, I can talk over people as I struggle to know when its OK to interject.
I can get paranoid, anxious, talk too much .  Certain Music and situations can trigger flashbacks and take me right back to a place where I was scared and vulnerable.  I am working on this.

I am not lonely, I have a loving family and friends who I know support me.
 I am just alone in my head.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

I am sorry

I am sorry.....

My heart feels like a knife has been driven through it.
Therapy brought up feelings of sadness, shame, disgust, embarrassment.
At the moment I don't want to feel. Feeling hurts.
It was like being back there, in that moment.  I tried so hard not to cry, not to show my weakness.
There were so many things I wanted to say and so many reasons why I couldn't.
Today I learnt of a friend of a friend who has died.  She was young, she was beautiful, she needed help.
I feel for her family and those she left behind.
I feel for those I love, those who find it hard to cope being around me because I upset them too much.
I feel for the child that I nurtured, who I care for deeply who is hurting. 
I have caused that pain and it only adds to mine.
What you are feeling, I am feeling too.

Dining room rules

So after the diet coke fiasco I'm back on board. Inpatient had rules, lots of rules.  Diet coke was not allowed. Neither we...