Tag Archives: food

On Feeding Myself

I just bought ingredients, made a meal and ate it. Part of me knows this shouldn’t be a big deal, not worthy of a blog post, but actually, it is. For the ‘me’ who is living with disordered eating, for all those meals on all those days where I have let the Negative Voice take over and either starved or binged: marking occasions where exceptions occur is really important. I gathered, I cooked, I ate. The world did not stop spinning.

The meal itself was pasta with tuna and pesto, and a side of broccoli. It was walking through the early night under a dark blue sky to the supermarket. It was feeling the anxiety rise inside me every time I saw people approaching, for we are reminded over and over again, this part of the world is not a place where women should walk alone . It was saying to myself, well fuck that shit, I have every right to walk these streets and why don’t they ever write about the place where most of the violence really happens, the home, in every suburb?

In the supermarket, people gather alcohol, chips, dips- things to take to parties. The AFL grand final has just been played, the streets are colourful with the paraphernalia of opposing teams.  People are gathering in celebration or just because it’s what we do, as Melbournians, on this day in September. I am not going to a party but I don’t care. I am going to cook, and eat. I have every right to eat. 

On the way home the Negative Voice berates me over food choices. Pesto is full of oil, pasta is carbohydrates, carbohydrates are bad, fishing for tuna kills dolphins…She is desperate, grasping at straws, trying to rise against this unfamiler experience of me taking care of myself. I picked the can of tuna where the label says ‘responsibly caught’ but that is not the point: I have every right to eat.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about nurture lately, about my experiences as a kid but mostly about now, as an adult, how I can chose to care for myself. If that little girl  was standing in front of me, the one who needed love and protection and reassurance that she was absolutely not as hideous as she thought she was, what would I say? What would I do? Would I tell her she wasn’t allowed to eat?

The pasta water bubbles and I chop and grate and stir, and there it is, simple, a one pot dish. This is not hard to do and yet society makes it out to be. You must eat this food, or these ones, at this time only, cooked in this way, you’re doing it wrong, buy this magazine, watch this show. Maybe all those people on Instagram with their carefully crafted pictures just want acknowledgement that they too have managed, today, to feed themselves.

I eat the food, quickly, as though somebody might take it away from me at any moment. I eat it secretly, in my room, as I have been doing for years. I enjoy it though, and I enjoy the feeling of having made it myself. I won this round, Negative Voice. I have every right to eat. 

 

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Plodding On

orange man

 

I had a relatively good day, food wise, yesterday- breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, binge, no vomiting. Ate in public, lots of fluids, listened to the hunger and stopped when I was full. The binge on salty foods was more habit than hunger, and I noticed this, and I stopped.Today was lost to sleeping and  involved an apple, an attempt at dinner and a large (but not a binge) quantity of out-of-a-box  brownies.

It’s so hard to appreciate the things I did well, and block out the, ‘it wasn’t perfect so you failed’ mentality.  Eating disorders love black and white thinking. The Negative Voice loves screaming at me about all the things I do wrong. It’s far harder to tune into the sensible part of me that knows about trying, about creating new pathways and who allows for mistakes and grey areas. It’s OK. Keep going. 

We had a training session on mental health (as it relates to our particular client group) at placement this evening. It was really freaking triggering. I wasn’t prepared for how much it made me feel like screaming and getting out of the room. It was presented by a psychiatrist and was very much a ‘medical model’ presentation. That surprised me because the organisation in general is quite holistic but the tone of this session was very much about diagnostic labels and medication. It made me think a lot about my role as a social worker, trying to create space for other ways of working  and nurturing, and to advocate for a more well-rounded view of mental health/ mental wellness. So it was interesting in that sense, but in the end I walked away so annoyed, and dismayed, that a whole room of volunteer caseworkers who may not have had any other knowledge on supporting the emotional wellbeing of clients  have now been given information through such a narrow lens, and that it was presented as ‘expert knowledge’ and therefore unable to be challenged. There’s so much wonderful consumer led/ informed work being done and yet none of that was incorporated. Was it ignorance, or an intentional position of ‘professionals know best’? Either way it was disappointing,

I’ve got three weeks left of placement and it feels good to have that end date in sight. Most of my theoretical work is done and ready to be submitted, and then I can have a break before uni starts up again in March. My final year- finally! This time next year I’ll be qualified and most likely in a full time social work position. Just gotta keep on keeping on.

 

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Just. Keep. Going.

Yippee for me! I made it to Thursday!

That’s what life is like at the moment- getting through each day, and more importantly each night. Finding reasons to get up in the morning, and reasons not to give into the darkness and Negative Voice that sweeps over me at night. Trying with all my willpower and determination to ignore ED thoughts and  eat regularly.  Trying to believe the Wise Woman when she says, ‘you can do this, it’s bloody hard and it sucks but you can do it’.

It always seems impossible until it is done. Repeating this, over and over. Most likely this is not what Nelson Mandela meant his words to be used for- my daily battle with food and my body and not giving in to suicide. Those words were probably written and spoken for bigger causes. Too bad. I promise you social change is next on my to-do list, right after I convince myself to stay alive long enough to achieve it.

Food is a good example. Yesterday I had an awesome day, food-wise. My target at the moment is to eat at least one meal (of the 3-meals, 3-snacks ideal) at a regular time and in a regular portion size. Yesterday I hit breakfast, lunch AND dinner. I can’t believe I did that! And yet- I can believe it, because I went through every excruciating moment of doing it. And yes I know it’s self-obsessed, and yes I acknowledge in many other contexts and for most other people it’s nothing unusual, but for me it’s FUCKING HUGE. It’s a Big Deal. it’s something I need to record so that when I doubt myself (uh, like, always) the reminder is there.

Also, on a related note: proper thick non-diet yoghurt, with dry roasted almonds and canned peaches? For breakfast? It is yum. I had forgotten this.

The other activity that makes good use of Mandela’s words for me is stair climbing. I am going to Nepal soon. Very soon. Nepal is a steep and mountainous country. Melbourne is flat. Very flat. Thank goodness then, for my university and its’ 14-storey buildings, full of stairs to simulate mountains. How lucky for me! How unlucky for my aching calves! But I enjoy it, in the weird way that pain and feats of endurance can sometimes be enjoyable. The uni is mostly empty because of mid-year holidays. It’s just me and my backpack and my head. You can do it, keep going. Twenty more steps in this flight. Ten more flights. Two more sets. Then you’re done. You can do this. That’s me, the same authentic and real voice of me that gently reminds me that full-fat yoghurt is not poison. It’s nice to hear her voice again.

I used to be in a swimming squad, between the ages of about ten and fourteen. The coach told me once, ‘I always give you one more set in your program than I think you’re capable of. I always push you, just to see if you can rise to it’. I absolutely thrived on this concept at the time, mostly because I craved adult approval and praise. But I still find it a good motivator now. You never know what you’re capable of until you do it.

It always seems impossible until it is done.

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It’s As Simple And As Difficult As That

‘You have to eat regularly’, she said. ‘That’s it. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.’

And it is. And it’s not. And my head spins and I cry. I cry so hard and for so long that I get a headache that carries from night all the way through today. The sun peaks through the gap between the window and curtain. I turn over and pull the doona over my head. I wake again and it’s 4pm.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. I know. I KNOW. Three meals, three snacks, fluids and meds. Repeat ever after.

But I haven’t eaten in this way, consistently, for over ten years. To do so, or even think about it, feels overwhelming, daunting, so close to impossible that it causes me to lose whole days to crying (see above). It’s too hard to change. I can’t do it. I’ll never be able to do it.

But what if you can do it? What if you tried? 

What if life could be about things other than my body? And what if food held its’ rightful place as just that- food, a source of energy, nothing more? What if all the power I give to food and weight could be redirected to all the other things in my life? What then?

I feel as though it might be time to give it another go. I’m living in a state of constant battle with a Negative Voice that tells me to kill myself, and a tiny yet incredibly tenacious voice that says, keep going. If there was ever a time to fight for myself, this is it. She’s in there, that minuscule spark of light, that quiet voice of courage speaking her truth. What if I fed her, fed myself, instead of trying to starve out the Negative Voice?

What if I tried?

Let the record show, I am going to try again. I am giving it another go.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. 

 

 

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