On Saturday I did something I haven’t done for a long time.
I sat at the table, with my family, for lunch.
I ate something I haven’t eaten for a long time.
The old favourite: baked beans on toast.
I should be celebrating it as a huge success. I sat at the table for a meal. I ate with my parents and my sister. I ate something ‘new’.
But I don’t feel like celebrating. Saturday lunchtime was a single high point in a weekend where mentally and physically, I felt worse than I have for a long time.
It started on Friday. Determined to eat an evening meal different from my usual safe food, I spent much of the day scrolling endlessly through the websites of three different supermarkets, trying to find something I could manage. Hour after hour, comparing the calorie content of different options. Endless, back and forth, this or that? More calories? Less fat? What if I don’t like it? I want all of it! I don’t want any of it! I felt mentally exhausted by the amount of choice I was giving myself. Eventually I disregarded them all and made my usual evening meal.
The stress of the day didn’t end there. Each evening, before bed, I eat a yoghurt. This is a habit I developed before Christmas, when my nights were violently invaded by panic attacks, anxiety, and an unshakeable belief that I would die in the night. Eating a yoghurt before bed somehow alleviated the worst of these feelings, and although I now sleep much better thanks to medication, I have managed to continue eating a yoghurt each night. The yoghurt didn’t cause me any stress. But at my mum’s suggestion I decided to have a tiny piece of chocolate with it. The effect was instantaneous. I swallowed the chocolate, and felt absolutely terrible. Stress, anxiety, panic… it all rose up inside me. Why the hell was I eating chocolate? Anger, frustration, depression… there was nothing I could do. I went to bed, distressed, upset, consumed with self-hatred.
And so that was how my weekend started. I won’t bore you with all the details of the next few days, suffice to say things did not really improve. By Sunday morning I felt mentally and physically exhausted. I felt so weak, I barely had the energy to move off my bed.
I managed to make my way into the kitchen, where I stood, desparately trying to convince myself to eat a banana. I knew I needed something. My chest hurt, I felt faint, dizzy… But I could not bring myself to eat anything. I wanted to cry with frustration. How could I have sunk so far into this illness that I cannot even bring myself to eat a piece of fruit when I feel this weak?
Today, I feel much better. The depression and anxiety that plagued me all weekend has subsided, the chest pain has ceased and I feel a little stronger. The thing is, I know that I am not better. Despite the best efforts of my family and therapy team, I have continued to lose weight and it is now the lowest it has ever been. I know I am not well. I wonder what will happen to me. Being admitted to a residential unit is seeming like a more and more likely outcome. I don’t want it to come to that. But maybe it would be best. I don’t know. I just don’t know.