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Eat the F****** marshmallow!

on January 25, 2013
“Never take someone for granted. Hold every person close to your heart, because you might wake up one day and realise that you’ve lost a diamond while you were too busy collecting stones.”
I have been a little quiet of late. I guess I should begin with how things are going across the pond. I’ve been here in the transition house for three weeks now. I’ve been doing well, and by that I mean I’ve followed my food and exercise plan, which as I was told the other day is nothing short of remarkable! I was not the most solid of clients and even my dietician expected me to slip up somewhere, so I am proud to say I have eaten all my food. What I am still struggling with is ‘balancing on the pin’. I have become a little too afraid to eat outside of my meal plan, and that is bugging the hell out of me. I’m glad it’s frustrating me, as it means I am willing to change it. As my therapist and I discussed, it could be so easy to live a life as I am now… following my food plan and maintaining my weight. Whilst I have significantly improved from when I arrived in August, it doesn’t seem enough – I want more. If I’m going to put all my time and energy, and my family’s money into this recovery nonsense, then I want it all, not some half-hearted attempt at it.A situation came up on Saturday that illustrates my rigidity. I was having my dinner when a couple of girls came over to see one of my housemates. She offered them hot chocolate and marshmallows. As I finished my dinner, I sat there and had a dialogue in my head that went as follows.

Eating Disorder: Do you want a hot choc? I think you do, but you have just had your dinner and you have to have snack in a bit. Don’t have one.
Healthy Self: What difference would one hot choc make? Maybe you could be brave and have it – you want to be a part of the experience with everyone else don’t you?
Eating Disorder: If you have extra outside of your plan then you are probably going to gain weight, and you are already worried about your weight going over it’s maintain band.
Healthy Self: You don’t even know your weight, so why does it matter. This is not how you want your life to look like – too afraid to have a bit extra. What happens if you go out with your friends back home and they go out for a hot choc – what you going to say? Oh sorry I can’t I have already had dinner. At least you could eat a marshmallow.
Eating Disorder: This chat in my head is driving me crazy – it is best to be safe and not have anything. Stick to your plan and what you were already going to have.

Alas I ended my dialogue with the eating disorder shouting at me and didn’t have the hot chocolate or the marshmallow. Since Saturday I have been beating myself up and questioning my progress. You might think that after five months of treatment I could of been a bit braver. I can hear you all now, saying “what difference would a marshmallow of made?” The truth is, it would of made no difference whatsoever to my weight, but it was my head that was in control. I talked about it last night in our group session and explained to the girls the crazy banter that went on in my head. It was good to get it out and it was also reassuring to hear that two of the other girls who have been here for six months also had the same thoughts, they just were able to put their foot in and do it anyway. I have decided to cut myself some slack. The reason it frustrated me was not so much that I wanted the hot chocolate or marshmallows, it was that I wanted to be part of the shared experience with my friends. Food is so much about sharing and that is something I have denied myself incessantly over my twelve year career as an anorexic. There is nothing I can do about Saturday now, all I can do is appreciate just how much it annoyed me and do something different next time – eat the f****** marshmallow!

Aside from this, life on the outside is pretty good. I now wonder how I spent so long in 24 hour care. I guess at the time it was what I needed, but my work from here on in, is practicing all that I learnt in treatment. I am back in the saddle which feels really good. I am so lucky in that I have become friends with a lady with two horses – Bodhi and Oria who have become my Californian companions. We go for rides through the hills and it feels wonderful to be free again. Another positive is being more social. Last week I went out with a group of girls for pizza which was really nice. Marshmallows aside – this was an area that I had progressed in. I would never of done that before I arrived here, but again it wasn’t about the food, it was about the company and experience. It is something I look forward to doing with my friends when I get home.

Today in group we had a past client come talk to us about her recovery. It was so wonderful to hear someone who is doing well. It gave me hope. She is happy and healthy and living her life without her eating disorder. She said that her recovery has been a journey and not something that happened overnight. She said that it’s not like the flu, in that you get better in a few days, she said it has taken her a couple of years to get to where she is now and that her work is still continuing. I have had my eating disorder for twelve years and have had six months of treatment, I need to be patient. My head wants to be cured, but my actions are not quite there yet. I realised today that the only way to get them working on a parallel is to do the action. If I wait until the day I wake up without an eating disorder, I maybe waiting a long long time. As the weeks to my return edge closer, I have been increasingly concerned about the expectation for me to land on home soil cured and eating disorder free. I don’t want to use this as an excuse for me to keep hold of my eating disorder, but I also hope that I can be accepted as I am, wherever that may be on my path. I see my recovery as similar to building a house. You start of with nothing, you then lay the foundation and build it up brick by brick until it is secure and air tight. I have laid the foundation and am now building it up brick by brick. So my mantra for the weeks ahead is to be more care-free, less rigid and more of a risk-taker.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

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