(More) thoughts about ED recovery

A couple of weeks ago, a friend recommended a documentary about anorexia by Louis Theroux and tonight I finally got round to watching it, which got me thinking a lot more about eating disorders in general and particularly about recovery and what it actually means.  I realised that apart from a few specific posts (21/05/07: probably the most significant day of my life.  Reflections a decade on…, the diary entry posts I wrote around that time and ED stereotypes), I haven’t really written many posts directly about eating disorders although they’ve come into a lot of my other posts.  I’m not really sure why; I think it’s partly because I’ve had it so long that it kind of seems like a part of me instead of an actual ‘illness’ but also partly because I’m still not comfortable talking openly about it to many people and it makes me feel really guilty and uncomfortable.  It’s not exactly a secret- more the opposite really and most people who know me just accept it as part of who I am so it’s not really an outside issue a lot of the time especially since my weight’s high.  I think most people would be more shocked if I actually ate ‘real’ food or in front of them rather than it being a problem that I don’t!  But I can’t see that happening anytime soon (or ever) so I have no idea what would actually happen if I did.

The documentary was interesting but I found it hard to watch and cried through a lot of it (although to be honest, I’m crying at pretty much anything atm so that’s not necessarily a reflection on the programme).  The first (and v superficial) part was that it made me realise that I am SO FUCKING FAT which obviously I knew already since I see my body every day and I know what the scales say but seeing that amount of really thin people made it even more obvious and (horribly) I was really, really jealous.  Since I’ve been on medication (particularly antipsychotics), I’ve gained A LOT of weight and even more since I started running longer distances because ironically you train your body to store fat as fuel which combined with the medications means that I’m over my target weight and have been for years apart from a few months last year when I came off the medication and lost most of the weight again, which went straight back on when I restarted the meds.  HATE it so, so much and especially hate feeling selfish, greedy and disgusting all the time and that it shows in my body.  But I can run further and for longer without getting black in front of my eyes or passing out so there are some positives. And much as I hate the medication, it does help to keep my moods more stable so can’t really complain too much.

The other really weird bit of the documentary was that it was based in Phoenix Wing at St Ann’s in London which was where I was outpatient for a year when I lived in London. So that was a bit surreal and weird to watch!  I could relate to a lot of it which felt very weird because I haven’t been inpatient since 2007 but it didn’t seem like much had changed except that they were allowed to go into their ward rounds (we had to submit requests then wait for the outcome), they were allowed home leave before getting to target weight (one year, I wasn’t even allowed home on Christmas even though I’d been there for months by that point) and their supervision was half an hour after meals instead of an hour.  Apart from that, the structure and lack of freedom seemed pretty much the same although he said that the average admission was four months which seemed a bit short to me but maybe the programme was different?

The documentary was based alternately on four different women who had had eating disorders for various amounts of time.  One girl had only had it for a year and her story seemed the most positive- by the end, she said she was determined not to go back in and she seemed to see herself as ‘recovering’ although I’m still not sure what that actually means.  The story I identified with most was with a girl who was on her eighth admission because I could see how frustrated she was with the whole process and going round in circles.  Even though I haven’t been inpatient in 12 years, I’m still on and off under ED services and I genuinely don’t know what recovery actually is or how you get there.  One girl was under a section and the ED service weren’t even aiming for ‘full recovery’ with her although they still didn’t say what that actually is!

The last story was about a woman who’d had anorexia for 40 years and was still an outpatient, and I could relate to a lot of what she said too.  She cut through the psychological stuff and said that it was basically about not wanting to grow up, and there’s a lot of me that can relate to that too.  I’m not really into the deep psychological reasons or any of that, but I know my ED started the year after my periods did and a lot of it as a teenager was related to trying to stop my periods and especially the intense mood swings and obsessions that came with them.  I’ve never experienced sexual attraction but I’m not sure how much of that is related to not wanting to if that makes sense and actively trying to stop sexual development through losing weight and stopping periods- I’ve never had proper regular periods because I’ve always tried to stop them and now I take the combined pill every day without the ‘break’ so I don’t have them at all.  But then it’s more complicated because of autism which is a developmental delay and makes you feel younger than you are anyway and because of BPD which also makes you feel like a child and emotionally immature so I have no idea what comes from what.  The psychiatrist I saw at the ED service recently said that he thought my ED came from having BPD but the other psychiatrist I’m seeing at the community mental health team doesn’t agree so I have no bloody clue and to be honest, I don’t really care what comes from what, I just want rid of it all or at least to be able to manage better!

The thing I found really frustrating about the documentary is that it only focussed on ‘classic’ restrictive anorexia and not other forms such as binge/purge subtype or atypical anorexia which are equally common and dangerous although more complicated and probably make less interesting TV.  I’ve had all of those types of anorexia at various points since I was 13 and ironically the restrictive type was the easiest to manage by far- it’s a lot easier to ‘just not eat’ than it is to balance starving, bingeing, throwing up, exercise and try to seem relatively ‘normal’.  I was actually healthiest when I had restrictive anorexia because I wasn’t doing ridiculous things to my body and metabolism, my weight was low but I didn’t have the energy to over-exercise, I wasn’t throwing up so my electrolytes were relatively OK and the worst physical symptom I had was passing out when I got up too fast.  Annoyingly after a few years, just restricting wasn’t enough to manage the intense emotions and obsessions which kept coming back so other symptoms started and that’s a LOT harder to manage and genuinely does make you feel like a total freak and a failure for not being able to manage it properly.

My current diagnosis is ‘atypical anorexia’ because my weight is high and it’s a lot more about the food and eating/not eating than it is about particular weights.  For me, it’s never been about body image- I hate how I look and I look fat even at my lowest weight, and I don’t use mirrors anyway (even when I was inpatient and had to have one in my room for ‘body image’ work, I hid it in the wardrobe and gave it to another patient who actually wanted one).  I want to be a lower weight because I know that under a certain weight, the intensity of my obsessions gets less and because it’s easier to rationalise being selfish, greedy and lazy when you know you’re at a low weight because you logically CAN’T be even though your brain still tries to tell you that you are.  Plus being a higher weight and still having ED issues makes you feel like a massive failure in so many different ways!

I still find it hard to eat anything that isn’t ‘safe’ (ie porridge, low fat soup or salad) and can’t eat in front of people but I really, really want to change that.  I hate that every Christmas, I can’t eat Christmas dinner at the same time as the rest of my family even if it is different food or that I have to make excuses at school for never eating anything.  Even if I was interested in anyone, I’d never be able to go on a date with them because I wouldn’t be able to eat in front of them.  I also still have the constant ED ‘voice’ all the time and I can’t imagine ever not having it- it’s scary to think of because even though I hate feeling rubbish and guilty all the time, it does help to keep me ‘safe’ and less selfish than I would be without it. The other problem is that I have a lot of guilt and anxiety all the time anyway (physically- it’s in my chest and stomach all the time) and that gets a lot worse when I eat pretty much anything which makes it really hard to even think about changing or varying what I eat. But there’s a part of me that really, really does want to :/ one of the things the documentary mentioned that is absolutely true is how much of a paradox anorexia is- there really is two parts of your brain that are constantly arguing and it’s EXHAUSTING.

I still don’t really know what recovery from an eating disorder ‘is’, and the documentary didn’t really help with that.  When I was an inpatient, the focus was on getting to target weight and learning to stabilise there but that isn’t the answer for everyone or even for most people I think.  I’m at target weight and have been mostly for years, but the ED part of me is stronger now than it was when I was a lower weight (because then you feel safer and ironically can eat a bit more), and it seems to be getting worse as I get older.  It’s also hard because in a lot of ways, I don’t really feel like an adult and one of the doctors in the documentary talked about that- she said that if you’ve had an ED for a long time, you’re following its rules all the time and you miss out on ‘normal’ development in the ‘real world’ and I can really relate to that.  I’ve never done the ‘normal’ teenage or young adult stuff like going out and drinking (I always say I just didn’t want to drink- the real reason is that alcohol has too many empty calories), eating with friends or even socialising much because so much of my life is structured around mealtimes.  Even now, I can only meet people at specific times because if I miss a mealtime, I can’t eat for the rest of the day.  Plus when you’re with people, at least 75% of your brain is taken up already with ED thoughts or obsessions and that’s hard for other people to deal with I think even though obviously they can’t see into your brain.

I think for me, recovery would be feeling ‘safer’ and more comfortable both with my body and around eating food in general.  I really do want to have a more varied diet but it would have to come from someone other than me- I’ve tried so many times before but the guilt and anxiety are way too intense, and I kind of need someone to just tell me what to eat so it’s not my choice and to have consequences if I don’t stick to it.  But ED services don’t work like that any more :/ I did ask when I had the assessment the other week but he said that they want to promote choice and independence which is fine when you haven’t had an ED that long but if you’ve had it 19 years, choice is bloody terrifying!!  I really do want to ‘recover’ (whatever that means) but it’s so bloody hard and I’ve been trying on my own for years.  Feel like I’m just going in circles and that makes you feel more trapped which then makes the ED voice stronger and safer :/ really want to break the cycle somehow but I have no idea how.

It really was an interesting documentary and worth watching if you’re interested but be aware if you have or have had an ED- it does focus on low weight anorexia and can be a bit triggering, so please be careful!!  I’m glad I watched it though; it really did make me feel even more determined never to be an inpatient again and it was kind of a relief to realise that there are other people who also have long term EDs so I’m not *too* much of a failure.  Am also even more determined now to find out what recovery from chronic ED actually ‘is’ and how to get there…

10 in 10 Day Five- halfway through!!

Five marathons down and halfway through!!  Today was a bit of a weird one- after yesterday, I didn’t sleep brilliantly last night and wasn’t in a great mood when I woke up but I noticed on Facebook that it was a purple medal day and purple’s my favourite colour so made an effort to wear all purple (not too difficult given that 90% of my stuff is purple anyway plus I have purple hair and nails!) which definitely helped put me in a more positive frame of mind.  Wish everything was that simple!

I hadn’t had much to eat last night because of feeling rubbish and I was genuinely hungry this morning so I added cornflakes to my porridge (weird I know but it doesn’t seem as much as having extra porridge) and had some hot soya milk as well as coffee.  I actually felt reasonably with it at the start of the run which was nice considering how horrible the last two days have been and once the run started, I seemed to have a surprising amount of energy.

The first couple of laps went pretty quickly; I was listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell, and the extra food for breakfast really did seem to have helped.  By lap three, my mood had started to drop again and was having a lot of pretty unhelpful thoughts about eating extra and not needing it, not trying hard enough etc but I kept running and tried to build up enough time so that I could ease off in the second half.  I stuck to the cereal bar strategy again which *touch wood* seems to be working OK, and ran most of the race pretty much on autopilot.

The weirdest thing was that I didn’t really feel sore or overly exhausted which is strange considering it’s day five and days three and four were really tough.  Physically, I felt the best I have done all week although mentally my brain was all over the place and that was harder to manage.  By lap six, I’d switched to Harry Potter audiobooks which is my go-to brain numbing strategy and that really seemed to help.  I walked most of the last two laps but I’d got enough time to be able to, and I was surprised at how the run seemed relatively OK compared to the last couple of days.  Big relief and really hoping it lasts!!

It was really, really hot and I realised after the run how dehydrated I must have been- mega headache and felt so thirsty even though I’d been drinking squash all day so I walked to Morrisons and got some diet Irn Bru which was the most amazing thing ever!! Had a salad and cooked chicken for tea which didn’t seem like too much for once (I hate admitting it but I am actually starting to get hungry) and some melon which was equally amazing.  Am absolutely exhausted now though and a bit over-emotional so planning an early night and hopefully sleep…  Five down, five to go!

Day Three of the 10 in 10

Today was TOUGH.  Managed another marathon but I’m really not sure how many more I’m going to be able to do.  Weirdly it wasn’t the running itself that was the problem though- I woke up feeling rubbish and tired (no idea why; I’d slept OK) and found it really hard just to get my running stuff on, eat porridge and even get to the Cyclopark.  It was like I had no motivation at all and really couldn’t be bothered which was weird because it was sunny and everyone was being so lovely and supportive.

I can’t remember much of the start of the run but it must have gone OK, the sun was shining and there was a breeze so not too hot, and I was listening to a mix of Bowie live music.  On either the first or second lap (can’t remember!), I caught up with the guy I’ve run with on and off for the last few days and ran the next couple of laps with him which was really helpful motivation-wise and to keep pace up so that I didn’t have to stress for the last half of the marathon.  After lap four, I was really starting to struggle so he went ahead and I plugged back into Bowie in an attempt to keep moving.

The path kept spinning and I felt like I was literally forcing my body to move which wasn’t a lot of fun.  I was in a bit of a negative mindset- really not sure the runs are worth the extra stress of fuelling and trying to keep distracted from brain shit, but I kept reminding myself that it was definitely better than feeling rubbish at home which would be the alternative and at least while I was running, I was doing something relatively positive even if it didn’t feel like it.  I’m finding the food side of running really difficult though :/ a few people pointed out today that a few grapes each lap aren’t enough to fuel a marathon but I’d given up with the cereal bar strategy for today because I was feeling so shit about it, and it’s bloody hard having to actually eat real food every evening to fuel for the next day.  Feeling really rubbish about the whole thing atm and no idea how I’m going to manage another week of it.  Total mindfuck!

During lap seven, a lovely woman I’ve run with before caught up with me and it really helped chatting to her to distract from brain crap and just to catch up.  The end of the lap was a bit eventful- sudden rain and hailstorm out of nowhere and got absolutely soaked and bloody freezing!!  I was v v close to pulling out at the end of that lap because I was so cold but one of my awesome running friends who’d finished lent me his waterproof and went out again for the last lap- thanks to people who literally forced me back out!!  Thankfully the hail eased off and the sun came back out so had dried off a bit by the end of the run.

I’m still feeling a bit weird and rubbish about the whole thing :/ I know I should be happy to have run another marathon (and I’m sure on one level I am) and it’s so nice to people to keep being so encouraging but I’m also feeling really horrible and shit about everything at the same time which really isn’t helping.  I know I can’t not eat and expect to be able to run marathons every day but it’s so hard to know what’s the right amount and what foods to eat.  The woman I ran with today gave me some dextrose tablets to try tomorrow (only 12 calories each and they have electrolytes in them too) so will give that a go if I start to feel dizzy or spaced out, and keep going with porridge in the morning and something for tea.

Today I bought a salad from Morrisons for tea and added cooked chicken to it for protein which I think is OK, but the really horrible thing about eating more regularly is that you start to get hungry and I’m already finding it hard not to eat all my cereal bars in one go!  Feeling really greedy and yucky about it (don’t usually get hungry and it’s a headfuck feeling) but I know that marathons need fuel and protein helps to repair muscles.  Just wish it didn’t also feel like I’m going to have put on about ten stone by next week!  So bloody confusing but determined to keep trying with it…

Yet another apology post!

Hi guys, just another apology post for not writing much recently! Not been feeling great and been a bit dissociated a lot of the time which hasn’t helped 😦 back to work next week though which I’m REALLY hoping will help…

Got a few blog posts which I’m halfway through writing though so will hopefully post properly again soon. I attempted a run across Scotland which was really tough and had to withdraw partway through so trying to write about that, and been doing a lot of thinking about ED, recovery and what it actually is (kind of following from the post I wrote last year Thoughts about ED recovery but probably more confused by now!) so also trying to make enough sense of it to write about that too.  Fingers crossed I’ll have a proper post written soon and thanks so much to anyone still reading this blog!

Trying to make sense of my brain…again!

This is a sort of follow up post to yesterday’s Back to more regular blogging! and I’m going to focus more on food/weight-related issues because that’s basically what I’m trying to work on properly at the moment.  Or at least that’s the aim; the whole idea is absolutely terrifying me and I’m not totally sure how or what exactly I’m trying to change or achieve, so I’m sort of trying to make sense of that too!  I’ve been re-reading older blog posts about similar things (especially 21/05/07: probably the most significant day of my life.  Reflections a decade on… which I wrote ten years to the day after I was last inpatient and I’m still feeling very similar to how I did then) which is definitely helpful to try to formulate some idea of how I’m feeling but my brain is pretty much constant fuzz and confusion all the time at the moment so it’s hard to make any sort of real sense of it.  But blogging is a good way to start!

Another previous post which was useful to re-read is ED relapse warning signs.  I wrote it about a year and a half ago based on a list of yellow/amber/red warning signs of possible ED relapse that I’d written with a psychologist I used to see as an inpatient way back in 2006, and it scared me a bit because I’m starting to show a lot of the signs again which is a definite motivator to try to address it now before it gets too intense.  It’s always hard trying to figure out what ‘relapse’ actually is because I never really fully recovered in the first place but I REALLY don’t want to get back to inpatient point again and even though it would still be a long way off, I also don’t want to lose my job or even risk getting properly ‘ill’ again so I’m trying to use that as a reason to do something about it before it gets to that point.  It’s hard though because although I’m aware things must have changed recently (people have commented on it and I’m definitely more food/weight fixated than I have been in a while), my weight isn’t particularly low compared to how it has been and even though I’m feeling tired and zoned out a lot of the time, I’m not physically ‘ill’ or passing out so it kind of feels like I’m making a big deal out of nothing and just being selfish.  So hard to work it out!

I know I’ve already said it but have got total fuzz brain at the moment and I really need to try to sort it out enough to know what I’m trying to actually do.  I’ve got the bitch in my head pretty much constantly reminding me that I’m just being selfish, I’m a lazy greedy bitch and I just need to get on with it and try not to let people notice but that’s bloody exhausting because the rules keep changing and I’m having to be active and walking ALL THE TIME especially if I’ve binged the night before or not managed to get the right amount of exercise in earlier on in the day.  But it’s doubly hard to think about doing anything else because she starts up more aggressively and it’s really, really hard to ignore or think of anything else.  But I REALLY don’t want to end up inpatient again and I know rationally that that is a possibility however far off, and I also know that the closer you get to that point, the harder it is to change anything so I really do want to do something now to stop that from happening.

It’s really hard when it genuinely doesn’t seem like a big problem at the moment though and even small changes seem really, really scary.  I know my eating patterns aren’t ideal but they never really have been (except briefly just after I was inpatient) and it’s only really since coming off medication that it’s been a more obvious issue because my weight went down a bit.  But it feels so much safer the way it is- obsessions are less intense, it’s easier to rationalise feeling fat/lazy/selfish, I’m constantly a bit zoned out so things don’t get to me as much (although having said that, I had three meltdowns over the weekend including one where I was crying, pulling my hair out and banging my head off the floor so maybe that’s not *totally* accurate), and things seem more manageable than the intense obsessions and mood swings I’d been experiencing.  But at the same time, I’m also not sleeping properly, tired all the time, finding it hard to run properly (and hating it), not really enjoying anything and feeling like I should be exercising all the time even if I’m exhausted which also isn’t great.

A friend who I really trust brought it up last week and said that I really need to make some changes before someone at work says something and so I don’t get to inpatient point again, and she’s not the sort of person who would say things she doesn’t mean.  She’s been really direct and honest about it which really helps to put things into perspective but as soon as I’m on my own and my brain starts up, it gets confusing and overwhelming again and I still have no idea how I feel about it except that it’s bloody scary and I feel stuck and overwhelmed.  The directness really does help though and she’s set me a challenge of swapping low calorie soup for regular soup one night this week which I know doesn’t sound like much but every time I’ve tried so far, it’s sent my brain into overload- didn’t realise how confusing soup could be but after spending nearly 40 minutes in the supermarket trying to work out which one to get.

It was really hard because I ‘need’ the right amount of protein per 100g as well as trying to work out what an equivalent to the soup I’d usually get would be without ‘cheating’ and getting the lowest calorie regular soup which I couldn’t get anyway because it didn’t have enough protein; regular soup cans say they serve two which would mean one serving is less than the low calorie soup I usually get which would defeat the point and be cheating (that caused a ridiculous amount of brain arguing!) and also need it to be an easyish number of calories in the can to work out in a daily amount.  I did finally manage to get a can of soup though which had the ‘right’ amount of protein, counted towards 5 a day, also had a good amount of fibre and was (scarily) almost twice the amount of calories of the soup I usually have without being too much volume which would make me feel too full and risk bingeing straight after, which was a definite achievement!  Haven’t managed to have it yet though :/ I meant to try it over the weekend but had a really stressful few days where nothing really went to plan so going to have it for tea tomorrow night after work.  Really, really nervous but it helps that it’s not *my* choice if that makes sense- it was my friend’s idea and I said I’d try it, and I’m trying really hard to think of it as a ‘rule’ I’ve got to stick to instead of a choice.  Which I know sounds ridiculous but it’s worth a try- every time I’ve tried to make the decisions on my own, I’ve never managed to stick to it and I really do want to make it work this time.

Another ‘rule’ I’ve set for myself is that I need to be doing something creative from 9pm every night- either blogging, drawing, colouring or writing, and I’m really going to try to stick to that too.  Lots of reasons but mainly because it puts a ‘limit’ on the amount of exercise I can do in the evenings- longer evenings has meant a ridiculous amount of walking (or sometimes running) which really isn’t helping and is exhausting, and also because I’ve totally got out of the habit of doing anything creative which isn’t great because creative stuff is a really good way to ‘escape’ my brain for a while and to try to channel it more constructively.  So hoping to stick to that too!  Will see how it goes anyway…

Frustration about mental health and how it impacts life choices

Sorry I haven’t posted much in ages :/ not been massively busy or anything (school holidays atm) but brain has been a bit of a sieve recently and finding it hard to keep up with basically anything that isn’t running so been half-planning blog posts then never getting round to finishing them so if this is a bit disjointed, that’s why!  Thanks for still reading though if you are 🙂

The main thing I wanted to write about in this blog post is frustration about ‘recovery’ (or not being clinically ‘recovered’) and how that impacts over and over on what you want to do with your life but in order to write about that, it would be important to understand exactly what recovery ‘is’ and I realised I still don’t really know.  On one level, it’s simple- the OED defines it as “A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” but that requires an implicit understanding of what ‘normal’ means and anyone with any experience at all of mental health issues in any context will know that that’s impossible to apply universally and doesn’t even exist as a yardstick to measure from.

Another definition would be the absence of symptoms or ‘illness’ but again that’s really difficult with mental health because everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety, depression, paranoia etc at some point and there’s no real way to decide what’s ‘normal’ and what’s ‘illness’.  I heard someone say recently that recovery isn’t the absence of symptoms but it’s when your symptoms don’t bother you any more, which I like as a concept and in everyday life that’s probably the most useful definition I’ve come across but it still doesn’t help when you’re got a clinical diagnosis (or diagnoses) of specific mental health issues that you still show enough symptoms of to meet the criteria so can’t be classified as ‘recovered’ even if you have managed to build up enough coping strategies or techniques that it doesn’t significantly impact your day-to-day life.  I wrote a blog post about similar ideas a few months ago- see 21/05/07: probably the most significant day of my life.  Reflections a decade on… if you’re interested.  So complicated and frustrating!!

The reason I’m thinking about this so much at the moment (and this week in particular) is because I applied to foster a couple of months ago and found out yesterday that the application was unsuccessful because of my medical reference which wasn’t that surprising as I’ve had issues with occupational health before when I’ve applied for certain jobs and had the job offer withdrawn due to medical references, but it’s still really frustrating and disappointing.  It’s partly the frustration of medical (mental health) issues continually getting in the way of things I’m really, genuinely passionate about and want to do with my life but also anger because I know I’m mentally more stable over the last few years than I have ever been and I really don’t know what more I can do to prove that to people.  Anger at myself for not having managed to ‘recover’ from a clinical perspective but also (horribly, because I hate feeling angry at other people) anger at the whole system and how restrictive it is.  I know I could be a good foster carer and I genuinely would put the child’s needs above anything else.  It’s what I try to do in every job I’ve ever had- child/young person/service user’s needs are absolute priority and that’s the main ‘rule’ in my life and being totally honest, it’s the main reason I’m still trying to get rid of the horrible parts of my brain because it would be so much easier just to accept it and go along with everything the bitch in my head tells me but I try so hard not to and to be ‘normal’ as much as I can because of the impact that could have on kids I work with or who I’m close to.  Which makes it doubly frustrating when as far as health professionals are concerned, it’s like I’ve not managed anything at all.

The other side to the situation is the fact that I really, really, REALLY want to have kids.  I know it’s something most people want at some point in their lives and sometimes it doesn’t work out for various reasons, but since I was really little I’ve wanted lots of kids and I’d give up anything else to be able to have them.  To me, it’s the point of being an adult and probably the only benefit to it.  There’s already the complication of being asexual and never being in a relationship which is something I can’t see ever changing because I’ve genuinely never experienced sexual or romantic attraction to anyone, and the idea of having sex with anyone makes me feel physically sick.  Then there’s the other problem of having had an eating disorder for 17 years; I still have very irregular periods, I’m not sure how fertile I would be even if I was sexually active and I also know that with my current food intake, it could be potentially dangerous for an unborn baby so would have to make some drastic changes although I think that pregnancy would be a massive motivator for this because the baby would have to come first.

Adoption or fostering seemed the only option which is why it’s so upsetting that it’s not a possibility.  The woman who assessed me was lovely and suggested voluntary organisations which support young people in care and I have applied to volunteer for, but it’s not the same as actually having the parent-style responsibility and relationship with the young person which is what I really, really want.  It’s hard to describe because I don’t really know what the feeling is :/ it’s like an intense need to ‘give’ to and care for another person in a way that’s more than childcare or friendship- I want to be able to fully support someone and for their needs to be my absolute priority, which I know sounds weird and it’s not exactly what I’m trying to say but I have no idea how to phrase it.

I work with kids and have done for years which I absolutely love and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to develop very close bonds with kids and young people, but it’s not the same as being the main caregiver for someone and having that sort of bond with them even though I know that parenting in any form is hard and isn’t always a positive experience.  But even if it’s not, I still want to give it a try- I get really upset when people say things like ‘it’s hard being a parent, you’re lucky you can give the kids back, you wouldn’t feel like that if you had your own’ etc because actually I WANT the challenges of parenthood, I hate having to ‘give kids back’ and (I know this is horrible) I get really, really jealous of parents’ relationships with their kids even when they’re arguing because I really want that sort of bond and to know that even if someone is angry at you at that particular moment, you’re still their parent and there’s still an unconditional bond there which won’t go away just because they’re upset.  I’m not being naive or thinking that parenting is easy or anything like that; I just really, really want to be a parent.  I’m 30 now and have wanted kids for years, and I’m starting to realise I probably won’t ever have them which hurts so much just to think about and I really, really don’t want it to be true.

I also know though that it would be selfish to go through with the fostering application knowing that it could be potentially damaging for a child or young person who’s already vulnerable to have a foster carer with (apparently) clinically significant mental health issues so I have to respect and accept the decision of fostering services even though I am really upset about it.  I’m not angry with them at all- they need to prioritise the needs of young people and I completely understand that, but I am frustrated about the system and how I’m seen as not “mentally stable” enough to be a foster carer.  The main issues brought up in the medical report and in discussion with fostering services were emotion regulation issues relating to ASD (the GP said that he wasn’t confident I’d be able to have enough emotional empathy or understanding to fully support a child with emotional issues) and having a “long-standing eating disorder” which is a factor that has impacted on occupational health in the past and I have no idea what I’m meant to be about it.  Yes, I have had an eating disorder for the last 17 years but I haven’t been an inpatient in ten years, I eat regularly even if it is only certain foods and I am a ‘healthy’ weight.

I know I still have some issues around food and eating but it’s definitely not obvious and it’s mostly the bitch in my head shouting at me 24/7 which is the problem and not the actual behavioural/physical side which I’ve learnt to manage pretty well over the last few years and I’m not exactly going to vocalise the bitch’s words to a young person I’m caring for.  And to me, it’s not as potentially risky as someone who drinks alcohol regularly or smokes (for example) which is totally socially acceptable.  It’s also frustrating because ED services won’t work with me anymore because it’s ‘chronic’ and my weight’s stable so I don’t meet the criteria for ED services but it’s still seen as a medical issue that stops me from being able to do things that I’m most passionate about like having/looking after children, working with young people in mental health services or being a teacher?  I have no idea what the solution is and if anyone has any experience of this, please feel free to email me on rainbowsandrecovery@gmail.com!

Really sorry that this seems to have been a mostly ranting post and haven’t even got round to trying to define ‘recovery’ properly yet.  Will shut up now and save that for another post…  Thanks for reading 🙂

Escape from Meriden- channelling my inner Shell Dockley!!

Sorry I haven’t updated this in a few weeks; had a few issues logging into my account for some reason so haven’t been able to access it to update but *hopefully* sorted now!  Which is good because I’ve been wanting to write this post about a run I did last week ever since I finished although maybe it is a good thing I’ve had to wait a bit because I was seriously hyped after the run and maybe the blog post wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.  It was an amazing run though!!


It’s a run I’ve done before called Escape from Meriden and it’s a jailbreak-style run- you get 24 hours to get as far from Meriden (near Coventry) as you can on foot starting at midnight.  Last time I did it was in November and it was FREEZING, dark, foggy and pretty scary so I was really nervous about doing it again but summer’s definitely a way better time to do it, and it went so much better than the winter version.  It starts in a village hall and I got there pretty early because I was so nervous, and got chatting to a couple of people who I’d met on runs before which is always nice.  One of the things I really, really love about ultras is how friendly and accepting people are, and how they make you feel totally ‘legitimate’ for being there instead of a complete amateur which is how I always feel.  It was raining pretty heavily outside so nice to wait indoors until midnight!  Quick pre-race briefing (basically: don’t die and remember to post back your tracker) then headtorch and waterproofs on and out to the Cross to start…


I’d written the first part of my route on a post-it note sized piece of paper which I had in my pocket and luckily I live close to Meriden anyway so know most of the country roads around there.  I was heading for Warwick down back roads to avoid cars as much as possible while it was still dark and rainy (although God knows why anyone would be driving country lanes at half midnight on a Friday night!).  At the beginning, there were quite a few people headed in the same direction but pretty soon people started to split and I was running on my own towards Balsall Common.  I was feeling physically pretty good- the coffee I’d downed just before I left the house seemed to be kicking in and although it was wet, it wasn’t cold at all which coming from me means it must have been practically summer!  The rain was a bit annoying because it was covering the lenses of my glasses making it hard to see, so I took them off for a while on the basis that I’d probably see better without them given that it was dark anyway.

It’s a really weird feeling running on your own down country lanes at night, and I don’t think I’ve really experienced it fully totally on my own before.  I’ve done off-road running at night and organised events, but never totally alone down narrow roads with no streetlights or pavements and the nearest village a few miles away.  It was pretty scary but not in the same ‘OMG I’m going to die’ was as the November version or the rainy, muddy nighttime trail running from Hope24 2017.  This was more of a creepy, surreal scariness like you get playing horror games on consoles- like a jumpy, nervous adrenaline but slightly detached like you’re not really ‘there’ at all.  I was definitely relieved to get to the streetlights of Balsall Common although there was about 7 miles of lanes to get through after that till I reached the canal at Warwick which was my first real ‘checkpoint’.  I was hoping to follow the canal as far as possible on the basis that I couldn’t really get lost which felt a lot safer!


By the time I got close to Warwick, it was raining like a deluge shower and I was absolutely soaked.  For the second ultra in a row, I was realising that my ‘waterproofs’ really aren’t and even my spare clothes were damp in my backpack.  So I decided to take a quick detour and go via my house to dry off a bit, change socks and put on some dry clothes.  I knew they would be wet again within ten minutes but it’s worth it just for the slight warmth that comes with drying off and dry feet for as long as possible helps to prevent blisters.  I spent a bit longer than I’d planned to giving my cat some attention and refilling my water pack, and found it pretty hard to get going again even though I was only a couple of hours in!

I finally psyched up to going back out in the rain and headed towards the canal.  It’s the part that I run on an almost daily basis so I know it pretty well but even still it’s scarier on your own at 3am.  The rain had eased off a bit which helped and I tried to relax into the rhythm of running in absolute quiet of pre-dawn darkness.  It felt really surreal and I put on some more upbeat music than I’d usually listen to but which really helped to start enjoying the running again even though I was still pretty scared.  By the time it started to get light at about 4.30am, I’d run through Warwick and out of Leamington and was starting to feel like I was actually getting somewhere!


Sunrise (or more accurately, just before) is my absolute favourite time to run and the rain had stopped completely by then so I took my waterproof off, switched to David Bowie’s Lazarus soundtrack and started to really connect with the run.  It sounds really weird and spiritual to describe, but there’s this amazing feeling you get sometimes when you’re running and everything seems to ‘sync’ and you feel totally relaxed, connected and calm in a way I’ve never experienced outside of running.  Sunrise is always pretty magical but especially when it’s a ‘slow’ sunrise because of clouds or mist and you get a gradual lightening of the air around you then an orange-purple tinge to the clouds before it actually starts to get light.  There was a lot of mist on the canal and it was so still before the birds started up, and I stopped briefly to really breathe in the morning before relaxed running again.



By 5.30, the sun had started to come up properly and it was feeling like daylight again, and I had a sudden realisation that I’d made it through the scary night and could be anyone out for a morning jog by the canal which felt suddenly a lot safer.  I got a weird burst of energy from that and hardly noticed the next few miles.  I’d started to get hungry so ate a cereal bar from my mammoth stash in my backpack (had enough food for 24 hours in the form of cereal bars, salted nuts, dried fruit and dolly mixtures!) and drank some more water.  It was exactly 6am by then and I made a ‘rule’ to eat something every hour even if it was just a small amount because I’ve had too many runs recently where I’ve felt sick from not eating enough but feeling too nauseous to eat anything which is the worst thing running ever.

The main issue I had once I’d left Leamington was that I genuinely had no idea where I was.  I knew that I was heading past Southam and towards Daventry but my geography knowledge really isn’t great and I didn’t really have any idea where that was, and there wasn’t enough phone signal to check Google maps (the ordnance survey map I’d borrowed from a geography teacher at school only covered as far as Leamington) so I carried on running and hoped I’d see some sort of map or sign soon.  At about 7.15am, I ran past a boat where someone was on board and I asked him where I was.  He probably thought I was really stupid but said I was leading towards Napton which I’d seen on some online maps so thanked him and carried on running.  I had a bit more signal so risked using my iPhone (which I usually have turned off for ultras to save battery for emergencies) to check Google maps which said there was a reasonably straight road from Napton to Wheedon Bec which would mean I could hopefully refill water and get coffee from somewhere so I started to check every canal sign for that.  Much as the canal really was pretty, I was getting thirsty and caffeine-deprived!


So at about 7.30, I left the canal to run to who knows where.  The road had seemed pretty straight on the map but LONG (about 12 miles) which really wasn’t the most fun running I’ve ever had a pretty scary at times where the road was busy, but after about an hour it turned into rollercoaster-style country lanes which are pretty fun to run and you get to walk the inclines so double win!  I’d filled up water just as I left the canal but it was started to get warm already and I was starting to worry about when I’d next get a chance to fill it up.  I was also starting to get pretty tired by this point and really, really wanted to find some coffee.

By 8.15, a sign said I’d reached Northamptonshire which was a relief because I was starting to think that Warwickshire was the biggest county in the world!  The lanes near Daventry and Newnham were really pretty but it was definitely a relief to get to Wheedon Bec where I was going to rejoin the canal.  I got a take-out coffee from a cafe which was AMAZING and took a quick break to put on sunscreen as the sun really was out by now, then ran down a lane and saw lots of lambs which was really nice, and I rejoined the canal pretty soon after that.  Saw lots more wildlife- swans and cygnets, and a cow drinking from the river- which was awesome after too long on roads. So I followed the canal for a while; nothing majorly interesting to write about but really, really peaceful and scenic.



Once the coffee had kicked in, I started to relax into the running again and realised how lucky I am that my body is capable of running for hours at a time and really connect with and enjoy it, and that’s something I need to keep reminding myself of more often.  Genuinely can’t put into words how amazing it is.  And for me, the most amazing part of running is that the ‘bitch in my head’ actually shuts up for a while and I get hours of relative brain quiet which is the most incredible thing ever and it only really happens when I’m running ultras which is a big reason why I run so many of them!  I am so thankful to my body for being able to run ultras, and to the person who got me into distance running in the first place (you know who you are).

I’d totally lost track of where I was by then and to be totally honest, the next few hours are a bit of a blur.  I know I was heading towards Oxford and that I passed Kettering (got chatting to an amazing woman with purple hair whose partner was in the Marines and still said there’s no way he could run 24 hours!), and the canal blurred into a green heat haze of summer running.  There were taps at some of the locks to fill up water which was a relief because it really was hot during the day, and I met some awesome people on canal boats some of whom offered to fill up water from their supply which was really, really nice of them.  At some point, I reached Stoke Bruene (I think that’s what it’s called?) which had a cafe and toilets which is a massive plus as anyone who’s ever run an ultra will realise!

So I got another coffee which was definitely needed, and completely impulsively bought a Magnum.  Anyone who knows me will know that this is completely out of character- I hate milk, haven’t eaten any form of ice cream in over 11 years and usually the idea of mixing protein (ice cream) with carbohydrate (chocolate) would send my brain into total meltdown with which bit I’m meant to eat first and how but weirdly none of that mattered and I just wanted something cold and minty because it was so bloody hot.  And at the time, it was one of the most amazing things I’d ever eaten although the idea of eating another one now makes me physically retch!  Weird how running totally changes your perception of EVERYTHING.


By mid-afternoon, it was too hot to run properly so I jogged-walked for a bit until it started to cool down a bit.  I was getting through most of my water pretty quickly and added some electrolytes so I wouldn’t get too dizzy, and ate some salted peanuts for extra sodium (and the inevitable giggling about the irony of salted peanuts before exercise definitely gave me a boost- WB friends will get that!).  This was probably the part of the run I found the hardest because of the heat which also meant that tiredness started to kick in, and I was really glad when it started to get cloudy at about 5pm and less humid.  I got a diet Coke and started running more again, and I genuinely couldn’t believe I’d been running for 15 hours!

I knew I was headed towards Milton Keynes where I’d planned to leave the river again and run down roads towards London to see how far I could get because I didn’t want to be running parts of the canal I didn’t know on my own in the dark, and it really felt like I was actually travelling away from the midlands finally.  I got to Milton Keynes about 7pm and started to try to navigate the subway system which is an absolute maze and got lost so many times!!  It was started to get darker now and I really didn’t feel safe running through underpasses I didn’t know when I was totally exhausted and not sure I could outrun anyone, and I started to feel really anxious.  Then, totally randomly, a guy on a bike asked me if I wanted to go for a drink later (?!) which was v v strange considering I’d run 18 hours by then and probably looked absolute sh*t but made me laugh which was definitely a good boost.  I said I couldn’t and carried on running, but couldn’t stop giggling at the irony that the only time I’ve ever been asked out in my whole 30 years of being alive is 18 hours into a 14 hour run!


I FINALLY made it out of Milton Keynes just as the sun was starting to set and was feeling really anxious and panicky by then.  I was also feeling jittery-high which is a weird combination that I haven’t had in a while, and started to feel like I was connecting with God in an amazing way that probably sounds really stupid and ridiculous but I’ve felt it running before and it really is an incredible and literally awesome feeling.  I know a lot of people will say it’s just endorphins and coincidence or that I’ve gone too ‘high’ but this time it really did feel like God was helping me and I’ve even got photographic proof!  At first, I just needed some inspiration and connection, and there were the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen in a really, really long time.  The sky looked like it was on fire and the photos really don’t do it justice.  I felt so amazingly connected and ‘oneness’ which is really hard to put into words.


Then the road changed from how it was on Google maps and I had to try three different directions until I was finally heading south-east again, and I started to get really anxious again. Then out of nowhere, there was a cloud rainbow in a sunset sky which is one of the most amazing and rare natural phenomenons possible and something I’ve never seen before in my life. I’ve seen cloud rainbows three times before but never at sunset, and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. I could really feel God with me as I was running and I kept thanking Them as I kept going and it felt like I was breathing in some of God’s greatness. I was running faster than I usually would at that point in an ultra but I was still scared especially as it was getting really dark now and I had a weird energy that meant I could keep running even though I was physically exhausted.


The last couple of hours was down an A road which I couldn’t really avoid and there was no real walkway beside it so I was running just outside the white line which was absolutely terrifying. I was convinced I was going to get hit or that someone would stop their car and pull me in, and I tried to focus on just getting past that stretch of road. Then, amazingly, a pathway opened up by roadside separated by a barrier which was so so incredible and made me feel so much safer even though it was still pretty scary running. It genuinely felt like God was looking out for me which sounds stupid I know, but that’s what it felt like.  


And at the same time, I got some texts of encouragement from AWESOME people (you know who you are!) which made a massive, massive difference and really helped to feel safer because it was like people were there running with you so THANK YOU!!!!! I can’t really remember much of the last bit of the run except that I made it to Dunstable *just* (literally got there exactly as my watch hit midnight!) and I was feeling super-hyped, amazing, jittery, scared and thankful all at the same time. 62 miles as the crow flies but amazingly 96.67 miles actual distance!! I met my dad who was driving back from the Isle of Wight and had really kindly offered to pick me up on the way, and slept the whole way back in the car. Total crash but amazing run!


This blog post REALLY doesn’t do the run justice- it was amazing, magical and had so many different moods that I really can’t put it into words.  I am so, so grateful that my body is capable of running that far and that I have amazing friends who send incredibly supportive and encouraging texts when I really need a boost (or if I’m irrationally panicking about nothing), and thank you all so so so much!!

New week and feeling hungry??

I didn’t sleep particularly well last night and really wasn’t ready to get up when my alarm went off at 5.30am.  I felt totally exhausted and, weirdly, HUNGRY.  I haven’t felt genuine hunger in nearly ten years and it was very, very weird.  My stomach actually hurt with hunger and I felt like it was being sucked inwards- not in the vertigo-y suction of feeling rubbishness but real, physical aching.  For a few moments, I wasn’t sure what to do and wanted to hide under the duvet and try to get back to sleep, but if I did that I’d be late for school so I had to get up.

When I went downstairs, I made some coffee and automatically sipped it slowly so it wouldn’t make my stomach burn any more (weird how things like that come back to you!).  I started to feel really anxious which didn’t help the stomach issue, but I had no idea what to do.  Breakfast wasn’t for another two hours and I still had a cross trainer session to do first but the hunger was making me feel really weird, and I wasn’t sure I’d be OK on the cross trainer.  It wasn’t the physical discomfort that was making me nervous; it was the weird ‘muscle memories’ it was triggering- I felt like I’d fallen back in time about 15 years and I kept having vivid semi-memories of being in Glasgow and feeling my stomach burn with hunger, being at school and feeling like my stomach was clenching itself inwards, doodling pictures of ice cream and chocolate bars during lessons to distract from the burning sensation of real stomach hunger.

The weird thing is that all the times I’ve experienced it before, I’ve been either underweight or losing weight but this time I’m actually eating more than I have done in nearly decade :s it seems totally wrong and counterintuitive to feel that bloody hungry!  Especially since I’d eaten fish, polenta and vegetables the night before and felt totally bloated afterwards.  I compromised and had half a glass of smoothie before the cross trainer (even that felt too much since I hadn’t actually done anything yet) and took a can of diet Coke with me.  I LOVE early morning cross trainer sessions- it’s such an amazing way to wake up and feel like you’re fully connected with the day before it’s started, and the hungry feeling subsided a bit by the time I’d finished so it was just a mild achy sensation in my stomach rather than intense clenching pain.

The rest of the morning was pretty standard- porridge, coffee and medication which amazingly isn’t hurting my stomach the way it used to (it used to feel like a mild burning when I first took it even with food), and I think maybe my stomach’s just trying to get used to eating so bloody much?  I had a pretty full on day at work today and had to stay late for CPD training so I felt like I was packing for a hiking trip instead of a school day!  I think the hardest part was trying to accept that I was going to eat all that food (the bitch in my head was trying to convince me I only needed the baked beans) and that it was OK to have snacks and more than one thing for lunch, and it was exhausting trying to deal with that as well as psyching up for school.  I kept rationalising that it was OK to take the food and if I genuinely didn’t need it, I wouldn’t eat it which made it a bit easier and less anxiety-provoking to pack it in my bag, although I spent most of the day worrying that someone would see it and think I was massively greedy or selfish.

The day went OK- nothing major apart from a few intense anxieties about getting things wrong which is pretty typical for a Monday especially, and I think the Lent resolutions are really helping with managing that because in the scheme of anxiety I’m feeling about foods pretty much constantly atm, a potential mistake that might not even matter to anyone which would usually cause a mini meltdown/panic attack actually doesn’t seem that important and is a lot easier to deal with than it usually would be.  I don’t think my brain or body have enough space for that amount of anxiety without going into shutdown!

After school, the teachers from my department were going for a meal and I wasn’t sure if I was going to go (usually I wouldn’t), but they’ve been so lovely and supportive of me working with them that I decided to risk it and go with them.  Amazingly, it went OK!!  I was so nervous about it and scared of ordering food I didn’t know, but the restaurant had a salad bar with lots of different stuff (including several of my ‘safe’ foods) and it was totally acceptable to just have salad so I did and made a ‘meal’ out of a mix of proteins, carbohydrates and salad in a similar structure to the meal at home would have been.  And no one said anything or commented which was amazing and such a massive relief.  Can’t believe I did it!!  Achievement for the week.

SO TIRED now though, exhausting trying to keep up with it and talk down the bitch in my head who takes every available opportunity to tell me how greedy, SELFISH and ridiculous I’m being and how everyone’s going to be judging me and thinking how horrible and selfish I am, and it’s hard not to listen to it because there is a (pretty big) part of me that really does believe that.  But part of Lent is challenging toxic thoughts and ideas, and I keep reminding myself that if Jesus could last 40 days and 40 nights in the desert with absolutely no distractions while the Devil was tempting him, I can ignore or accept the bitch’s words without acting on them…

Lent Day Three- tough day :/

Day three of Lent and starting to really struggle with feeling full ALL THE TIME.  Found it really hard to motivate to getting out of bed this morning :/ felt totally drained and disgusting, like someone had sapped all my energy and replaced it with heaviness and sludge.  Not nice!!  I literally had to force my body into moving through the motions this morning- coffee first, shower, putting on one item of clothing at a time and really had to concentrate to make sure I actually remembered everything.

Was running late so didn’t really have time to think about porridge which was probably a good thing- made instant porridge and ate it quickly because I hate being late for work.  Didn’t even have time to think about eating when I wasn’t hungry and it was only halfway to work it suddenly hit me!  But by then I was stressed about being late, feeling anxious and trying to manage lots of ‘rule-type’ thoughts which always seem worse when I’m late (radio volume on an even number, swallowing even number of times, making sure I could see exactly half my left eye in the rear view mirror, not looking at the clock at 8.13 and when I did accidentally, having to look at the clock even more times on 8.14 etc) and didn’t have enough brain space to worry about the porridge too.

When I got to school, I had a pretty full-on morning with some of my favourite but challenging classes and I was so exhausted by breaktime that I actually really needed the banana energy boost.  Was really busy again right up to lunchtime, and didn’t have time to worry about how I was going to manage the baked beans and bread.  I was so, so nervous about it- partly the logistics of making and eating it (is it OK to eat food with a knife and fork at lunchtime? and is it OK to do that in the staffroom?) and partly in case someone commented on it and that would make me feel even more anxious and self-conscious, but luckily it’s Friday today and not many people around (lots of staff are part-time) so there were only two other people in the staffroom anyway.  I decided not to risk toasting the break because getting the toaster out and plugged in would draw attention to it and I was nervous enough anyway, so I had bread with cold baked beans.

I felt really sick when I started to eat it and felt full almost immediately, and I really wanted to just eat the beans and leave the bread but I know that would be cheating and would defeat the point of following the meal plan, so I forced myself to eat a few beans at a time then cut the bread into small pieces and ate them too.  Felt like I was going to explode by the time I’d finished and my stomach was bloated and uncomfortable, which was really horrible.  I had a horrible, intense urge to throw up and was very close to going to the toilet but the bell rang and the child I work with in the afternoon was waiting at the staffroom door so I couldn’t.  I felt really trapped and jittery but Friday afternoons are one-to-one work with a child I mentor so couldn’t do anything about it which was really, really horrible.

Then the bitch in my head started up, saying I shouldn’t have eaten it and didn’t need it, beans are OK on their own and bread is another meal in itself so I’d basically had two meals in one which was really, really greedy especially after the banana at break, feeling full is my body’s way of telling me I’ve eaten too much and I was really selfish for ignoring that and eating anyway, I’m a disgusting bitch and that’s why people don’t like me…  I couldn’t challenge her with a child in front of me and ignoring her isn’t really an option because she just gets louder, so I dug the staffroom key hard into my hand (inside my fist so the child couldn’t see) and bit my tongue, and the pain helped to distract enough that she started to quieten down a bit.

It’s a pretty intense afternoon doing one-to-one work which really helped to distract from how I was feeling.  The lesson went OK but way too quickly (I love working intensively with kids because takes so much energy and when I’m jittery-hyped, it’s a great way to channel it positively and the kids really seem to respond well to that), and I stayed late after school to write up notes to try to calm down a bit before going home.  I still felt really bloated when I got home and it’s the first time I’ve seriously considered missing food from the meal plan.  I felt SO FULL and horrible, and I’d got pretty bad heartburn as well which really didn’t help.  I couldn’t face a yogurt so ate some dates instead (needed an energy boost) and played Minecraft for a while to try to distract from feeling sick.

I hate evenings- my mood and energy levels seem to crash and it’s hard to focus on anything properly.  Friday evenings are the worst because I don’t even have school the next day and my anxiety’s really high without structure, and because I don’t ‘have’ to do anything which is really difficult to deal with.  Had to force myself to eat tea again and felt even worse afterwards, and I just wanted to binge then purge it all out, stop feeling so disgusting and bloated and escape form my body for a while.  But I’ve decided to follow the contract for the next 37 days and that means NO BINGEING, and I can’t break the main rule.  My brain’s been spinning all evening :/ trying to manage intense binge urges while the bitch in my head is screaming at me for messing everything up, being a disgusting lazy bitch, making myself even more fat so people will think I’m even more selfish than they already do etc is bloody hard and I am EXHAUSTED.

Still feel like my stomach’s forcing my clothes to stretch and I’m so scared none of my clothes will fit by Monday.  What if I genuinely have nothing to wear?  What if I get so fat people don’t recognise me?  What if the kids say something?  Feeling disgusting and so horrible, and it’s really hard trying to rationalise it and stick to the plan.  Only three days in and it’s BLOODY HARD.  But I managed two years as an inpatient on a much more difficult diet than this one (WAY more food and variety) and didn’t die, so I know rationally that it IS possible.  Just need to keep trying…

Lent Day One…

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..