This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The focus this year is on the importance of early intervention and diagnosis. When I first became unwell, I was fortunate enough to have a GP who immediately referred me to the eating disorder service, and I was able to access treatment very quickly. To highlight the importance of this I am going to blog each day this week, to show the support that I am currently recieving from the NHS.
Monday – Lunch with my support worker
My parents leave for work in quick succession just after 7:30. At 8:00 I hear my sister thunder down the stairs, shouting a hurried goodbye as she grabs her car keys and rushes out. The door slams shut and I am alone. The start of another week. I haven’t moved yet. My bed is warm, and the sound of rain pattering gently against the window is not enticing me to get up. My support worker is coming round to have lunch with me today, and I am dreading it already. I want to stay safely cocooned in my duvet, away from the stress of food, of eating, of being scrutinised as I have lunch. Eventually, the need to know my weight today drags me out of bed and across the landing into the bathroom.
Five minutes later I am in my dressing gown, hands wrapped around a steaming mug, staring out of the kitchen window at the pouring rain. My weight has not gone down. I don’t understand why. I was expecting it to be down today. And it isn’t. I can feel the anxiety rising. How am I going to get through lunch now? This will be the second time my support worker has eaten lunch with me. I know she will push me to eat more than I would normally. I know she will challenge the disordered way that I eat. I know she is trying to help me. I know I will hate every moment of it. But there is no escape.
Right on time, the doorbell rings. This is it. Here goes. I answer the door and my support worker follows me into the kitchen.
“What are you having today?” She asks brightly, settling herself at the kitchen table.
I shrug and suggest the lowest calorie option that I think she will let me get away with, trying to sound breezy and relaxed.
Whilst I busy myself making lunch, she chats, subtly finding out how things are going. I admit that I haven’t been doing very well with my snacks. I don’t give her the whole truth, but I do admit that I’m not having as much as I should be.
And then it comes. The challenge.
“How would you feel about having that extra bit?” she indicates the half slice of toast I have discarded by the side of my plate. I try to protest but I know it’s futile. We compromise and I add an extra quarter slice to my lunch.
And I eat it. It takes me a long time, but she doesn’t challenge me as I nibble around the edges and pick at it. We chat about my new books, about the Oscar mix-up, the upcoming season of Broadchurch. Part way through the meal, I realise that I am not finding the conversation difficult. Focussing on what someone is saying to me, whilst I am eating, is often too stressful, but today it felt manageable. Usually I just want to be left alone whilst I eat. I don’t want someone bothering me with questions, or requiring me to think of things to say. It has been a long time since I casually chatted over a meal. But today I make my way through the whole lunch, even the extra toast and simaltaneously discuss the day’s news.
I have done it. It’s a tiny little step forward. But it is a step forward nonetheless.
I have an appointment every day this week and will be blogging about each one. Stay up to date and get notification of my latest posts by following this blog, signing up using your email address or following ChickenRisotto on Twitter (or go wild, do all three!)