First day of Lent and survived!! Totally exhausted already though and it’s been a very weird up and down day, but made it till nearly bedtime with (mostly) sticking to the plan and no bingeing or any other massively destructive behaviours *touch wood* so went better than I thought it would… It’s weird, I’m feeling a bit spun out and overwhelmed so it’s hard to try to put into words how the first day of ‘simulated inpatient’ has gone, and I’m kind of feeling the same as I have done at the start of every admission which is WEIRD.
It also really doesn’t help that yesterday we had a geography field trip which consisted of doing site surveys in different locations around town, one of which happened to be right outside the ED inpatient treatment centre (which is an area I’ve avoided ever since) and that felt really weird and surreal, and I was so scared I’d see someone I know. Luckily I didn’t but it still felt really strange. I can’t really describe the feeling- it was like underlying anxiety but mixed with a sort of guilt and intense pain too, no idea why and really didn’t like it. And then when we went up into town to do another site, I bumped into the psychologist I used to see at the ED service which was even more weird and surreal, and REALLY not the best timing. She recognised me and started talking to me which was nice of her but so weird and I wasn’t sure what to say, especially in the middle of a school trip! Still feeling weird and surreal about it today, and starting Lent has sort of added to that.
I’ve basically approached Lent like an inpatient contract- I’ve got the plan and I’ve got to stick to it because that’s the rules. It’s a lot harder on your own though even though I’ve gone over the rules so many times in my head. The morning was OK because it was porridge like I usually would, and the first ‘challenge’ was break time at school when I’d planned to have a cereal bar (would usually be biscuits but I forgot to go to the supermarket yesterday). It was SO BLOODY HARD to make myself eat it and I was shaking so much but luckily it was Wednesday which happens to be the day that my department at school eat cakes at break time (it’s a weekly tradition) so that really helped to justify eating it, and no one commented on it which was a massive relief. I felt sick afterwards though and so guilty for eating when I wasn’t hungry and it wasn’t a meal time, but one of the plus sides to working in a school is that you’re straight into lessons and don’t really have time to dwell on it. THANK GOD. It’s like distraction and supervision merged into one.
Amazingly, I didn’t explode or spontaneously combust after the cereal bar at break and managed not to think about it too much until lesson four (right before lunch) when usually I’m getting tired and a bit lightheaded thanks to long lessons and lunch being relatively late at school. Today was different though- I had way more energy than usual and still jittery after breaktime which translated into mild hypomania through the whole lesson which I really hadn’t expected. I was literally twitching with hypedness the whole hour, couldn’t stand still so flicked from one child to another pretty much constantly and talking way more than I usually would. Everything seemed to have sped up and I kept going ‘out of sync’ with what was going on, and I was aware that a few of the kids were looking at me a bit strangely. I kept taking deep, abdominal breaths (subtly) to try to slow down, but my thoughts were going a million miles an hour and I was seriously jittery. At first, I thought I must have forgotten to take quetiapine last night but I wouldn’t have slept if I hadn’t so I very rarely forget it and if I do, I realise pretty quickly. Then I realised it was energy from the cereal bar- I’m not used to having a sugar boost mid-morning and I think I must have been on an anxiety-mixed sugar rush which was why I was so hyped and jittery. When I realised that, I found it really hard not to giggle hysterically (no idea why- it was a weird mix of guilt and excitement) and had to make a massive effort to ‘slow down’ for the rest of the lesson.
After that, I felt a bit too anxious and jittery to try anything new at lunch so I had porridge as usual (not great I know but definitely going to try beans on toast tomorrow), then calmed down a bit before the afternoon. After school, I went to the supermarket which was another massive challenge (I HATE supermarket shopping and am usually in and out in less than three minutes), and I managed to go round most of the shop and get DIFFERENT FOODS to try. I got soya yogurts to have after school, bananas and biscuits for breaktimes (alternating), white fish and vegetables for tea. I kind of cheated and bought a mixed bag of ready prepared vegetables which also had potato in so I didn’t have to work out a portion of carbs, but I think that’s safest for the first attempt and even thinking about preparing it was giving me mega anxiety.
When I got home, I put the oven on straightaway so I wouldn’t chicken out and put the veg and potatoes in, and fish wrapped in tin foil. Was feeling seriously nervous and sick by then but I managed a yogurt and took a coffee upstairs to distract with school work. I’d completely forgotten how much of an amazing distraction doing school-related work is (now I can see totally why I loved homework so much) and definitely going to make that a daily distraction in the evenings even though *technically* it isn’t part of my job. When I went downstairs to get the food, I felt really, really sick and nearly put in back in the fridge for another day but the guilt and anxiety about ‘breaking the rules’ overrode the feeling sick horribleness of eating the meal, and I started to eat it.
It was really, really hard, way harder than the cereal bar this morning because I started to feel full and bloated really quickly and felt like I was forcing myself to pick up the fork over and over, and actually swallow the food. I realised that the mixed veg was a bad idea- I couldn’t figure out which order to eat it in (is onion more or less carb-y than courgette? how can you tell the difference between squash and sweet potato? is sweet potato a vegetable or a carbohydrate and should you eat it before or after fish?) and my brain was going even faster than it had done earlier in the day, thoughts merging and not making sense and I couldn’t work out what parts of the meal were what even though logically I know it probably doesn’t matter. It also brought back horrible memories of being an inpatient and being told off at the table for eating things in a certain order (veg then protein then carbs) and only one thing at a time, but I have to eat it that way and if I don’t get it right, my anxiety skyrockets and I feel even more spun out and sick. Maybe something I need to challenge later on, once I’ve got my head around the food…
But managed to finish the meal!! Felt SO BLOATED afterwards (and still do), I can feel my stomach pressing against my trousers and feel disgusting but I know that’s part of it and I’ve had that every time I’ve tried to change my diet before, and I know you need to just ride through it until it subsides. So hard though and it really doesn’t feel like it’s going to ease off I’ve been looking through old ED stuff and keep reminding myself that I’ve eaten A LOT more than this in a day before in the past and survived it, but all I can see in my brain at the moment is a pile of all the foods I’ve eaten today and I feel sick. But it’s definitely a bigger step than I’ve taken in the last eight years, and the logical part of my brain knows that’s a massive positive. Really, really hoping it’ll get easier..