For five and a half weeks every Wednesday in ward round (this is when the doctor, nurseing staff, dietician, occupational therapist, and psychologist all meet to discuss your care plan, progress, and any requests or comments you have) I have been asking to be taken off bed rest finding more and more reasons each week why it would be far more beneficial for me not to be stuck looking at the same four walls, being isolated from others and generally having no free space away from the anxiety of food, despite my reasoned points each week I have been told no not till you reach a bmi of 12.5. What they failed to listen to was that in order to get to this I would be required to put on a stone in weight and in order to do so there was no way I was stopping on a bed to get that big.
So Wednesday came around this week and the doctor and nurse came in to give me feedback from ward round to my utter shock and delight finally they had listened to my plees and agreed to allow me to go to the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to do my hours sitting time in the lounge. Remaining on bed rest for snacks and at all other times. However my delight soon turned to a state of sheer terror and panic firstly thinking if not on full bed rest i must now be well and no longer in danger ( i wish i could explain why i thrive on the thought that im seriously ill even thoughi dont actually believe it i get a stange elation at people thinking i could die, twisted i know but hey thats anorexia for you)what if I sit in someone's seat in the dining room or lounge, how can I face the other patients when they will be looking at me and thinking my god she is massive why the hell have they kept her on bed rest or even why is she here. Heart pounding and with tears in my eyes the staff allowed me to go and look in the lounge and dining room and explained the process in the dining room, I wish I could say this allayed my terror but it didn't.
I spent much of the night awake fearing not only the dreaded weigh day but also the prospect of the dining room. All to soon the morning came and I was horrified at once again the large weight increase, so much so I couldn't have a shower because I couldn't bare to see my body in all it's hideousness.
8.15am arrived and I slowly made my way to the dining room having firstly put my book on a chair in the lounge praying it wasn't someone else's seat. It felt very strange walking for the first time in over five weeks or at least without someone manhandling me back to bed following one of my escape attempts! Once in the dining room I sat at a table and didn't look up breakfast was served and as I slowly ate heart pounding I realised part of my fear was I didn't want to adopt others habits or become influenced by their behaviour.
Eating disorders are bizarre they cause you to become very ritualistic with the way you eat food only able to eat in a certain way eg always eating crusts on sandwiches or toast first - I am guilty of this
but to be honest this is something I have always done as I'm not keen on the dryness of them- you can't get staff to believe this as they just believe its due to the anorexia. They are also very competitive and quickly you can become sucked in to the mind set if I eat quickly I am not ill so I need to eat as slowly so I can to prove that I'm not ok with food, luckily they have now set a 30 minute time limit and if not completed in this time you are offered a supplement to replace food not eaten, no way will I be having this I could have stopped at home and drunk supplements I don't see how this helps people to challenge their fear of food. On my last admission there was no time limit and you would just sit there till you had cleared your plate,you wouldn't think it possible to make one slice of beans on toast last for two hours but I could it's amazing how many pieces you can cut a baked bean in to (6 for those who a curious!). Every patient has their own rituals and behavious each struggling with something, what one person is ok with another may be terrified however you can easily take on their fears and before you know it something you were ok with is now terrifying.
So this has become my biggest fear of the dining room, apart from that of the food obviously, I noticed that a patient was refusing to use all of the milk provided for her cereal instantly prompting me to feel like a failure for dutifully pouring all of the milk on to my own, closely followed by her refusal to use all the butter on the toast which again I had been complying with. Instantly I had become crap at my eating disorder and clealy had failed I could eat using all the milk and butter and therefore not only was I greedy and fat but clearly had no need to be stuck on a unit for Ill people when I am fine. I wish I could say that lunch and dinner were any easier but each brought about very
similar feelings and following my hour sitting time I have to admit I was relieved to return to the sanctuary of my room back to the familiar and safety which for five weeks I have fought to get away from!
While I am still very much stuck in the grasps of this illness I think it will be best to keep my head down in the dining room focus on the food and nothing else and to try to block others out, I'll let you know how I get on.