the solid foundation on which i rebuilt my life

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last night, as we were getting ready for bed, my husband said in passing that we needed to work out our schedule for the year. this was partly prompted by a discussion we’d had earlier that day with my parents about a potential trip to new york in may but he wasn’t really talking about holidays or work or our boring plans to remortgage. he was talking about ivf.

we’ve been trying to conceive for over two years now, starting almost as soon as we got married. we have nothing to show for it; not even a hint of a positive test in that time. we’ve had all the tests and everything looks fine. all they can tell us is that we have ‘unexplained’ infertility.

i know for some people, infertility is incredibly hard. i have an amazing group of friends who are all at various stages of their infertility journeys and the physical, mental and emotional impact cannot be understated. my husband and i are fairly pragmatic about it on the whole. clearly, i’d rather be running around after a toddler right now rather than anticipating having a whole lot of medical equipment shoved in places where i’d prefer it not to go but it is what it is.

we first started talking about ivf this time last year after a year of trying unsuccessfully. we decided not to rush into anything as there was nothing wrong and my results were all very positive (it looks like i’ll be having periods for years and years. great). and then i developed ptsd and couldn’t even contemplate the idea of ivf. a few months ago – on our wedding anniversary actually – we decided that we were now in a position to start the process in january this year. and then, as the ptsd got better, i stopped eating.

now, i don’t meet the bmi criteria for ivf (although my husband doesn’t know this) and it’s a bit hit and miss as to whether i’ll actually have a normal cycle anytime soon. more than that though, i’m not eating enough to sustain myself and it would be idiotic (and a huge waste of money) to try ivf at the moment.

this afternoon i created a spreadsheet (of course) to work out various milestones if we started ivf in march. the estimated due date (if it were to work which is so far from a certainty that i didn’t even want to work this out at first) would be 12 january 2019. so i have to recover because i really want that baby.

but i’m so worried that it’s going to be too hard and i’m not up to the fight.

{title quotation from very good lives: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination by j.k. rowling}

you don’t reconcile the poles; you just recognise them

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this morning, i emailed my pre-appointment questionnaire back to the nutritionist that i have been referred to. i am sceptical about this whole nutrionist thing for many reasons.

firstly, i’m not sure that this nutritionist actually has any proper qualifications or, from the testimonials on her website, any experience with eating disorders. secondly, and perhaps more importantly, she posts pictures on instagram of green smoothies and hashtags them #feelingblessed. no thanks.

really though, i don’t know what she’s going to tell me that i don’t already know. i understand what makes a healthy and balanced diet (as much as anyone can these days with the plethora of mixed messages we get). i’ve experimented with various ways of eating over the years so know what does and doesn’t work for me. i also know that i don’t eat enough and there are a number of things which should be part of my diet that i ‘won’t’ eat.

i also think, despite everything, that the core of our diet (i say ‘our’ because i do all the cooking not because my husband has any kind of eating disorder) is pretty good. although this in turn helps me rationalise my restriction (i’m eating vegetables; how can i be unhealthy? i eat dinner every night; how can i possibly have an eating disorder?). that aside though, our meals are generally based on vegetables with some lean protein and a handful of carbs, generally wholegrain (and way more for my husband than me in case anyone thinks i’m starving him). over the last few nights we’ve had, for example, risotto with leeks, peas and spinach; roasted vegetable enchiladas; roasted pork tenderloin with chickpeas, red pepper, kale and spinach (a recipe from the new jamie oliver book which i think we’ll have again).

even now, i can’t see how that (which also made up the food diary i had to submit this morning) can possibly equal an eating disorder.

but i met up with friends yesterday for brunch and sat there, nursing a mug of (black) tea, watching them all eat variations of avocado on toast and not eating anything myself. after that, i went to the food market on the southbank and bought a brownie for my husband but couldn’t buy anything for myself. i’m supposed to be seeing some other friends today for afternoon tea but i have bailed, blaming work (which is partly true) but really because it’s almost impossible to hide the fact that you’re not eating at an afternoon tea.

i am simultaneously worried that the nutritionist is going to read my form and refuse to see me, not least as my bmi has slipped into the underweight category in the last couple of day, that she’ll think i’m eating far too much and/or that she’ll look at me and think i’m lying because i’m surely too fat for what i claim to eat. i realise that all of these thoughts are totally contradictory and that is one of the things that i find hardest to deal with about having an eating disorder. or, at least, the way in which i live with my eating disorder.

how can reconcile the part of me which pours over cookbooks to find new recipes to try with the part of me which once weighed a chocolate button so i could accurately calculate (and log) how many calories it had?

the part of me which spends hours saving images of food on pinterest with the part of me which knows how much each pair of my pyjamas weighs so i can account for any differences when i hope on the scales in the morning?

the part of me which loves standing over the stove stirring a risotto or filling the kitchen with the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with the part of me that can’t even contemplate eating a slice of avocado toast with some friends on a lazy weekend morning?

none of this makes any fucking sense.

{title quotation from orson welles}

an act of violence against the self // mini oatmeal muffins

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it always seems so unfair when black moods descend at the weekend; a bit like getting ill as soon as you go on holiday. it was probably my own fault though. a pinterest-induced  spiral that started with my inability to do any more advanced yoga poses than a downward dog (i mean, just how? i don’t think my body will ever co-operate with that), passing through the fact that no matter how many pairs of ankle boots i buy, my calves still look ginormous and finally, inevitably, settling on my weight. the number that had seemed that morning, when i was feeling okay, like an acceptable bmi, now suddenly loomed in front of me, taunting me. this was further compounded by 1) the fact that i ate lunch yesterday and 2) my weight went up this morning by 1lb (i know, i know, it’s just water weight but still).

the competitive elements of eating disorders are well known. it’s a constant comparison game both to everyone around you (do they weigh less than me? do they eat more than me?) and often to yourself (am i more bloated than yesterday? did i do as many steps last week as the week before?). clearly, this appeals to me. there are days when i think i’ve got pretty good at it (and i like being good at things) but most of the time, i’m on a losing streak. and that adds more fuel to the fire. and so it goes on.

i have tried to muddle through today rather than either hide, always my number one choice, or engage in some (other) self-destructive behaviours, generally a close second, so it’s meant more time on the yoga mat, some jobs around the flat that i was tempted to leave for another day and some muffins. the latter were primarily for my husband (obviously) to fuel his long and snowy run but i managed to eat 1/4 of one. baby steps and all that.

{title quotation from iyanla vanzant. the full quote is ‘comparison is an act of violence against the self’ which seemed very fitting}

~

perhaps i should say a few words about recipes (and i will talk about this more at some point)? whatever phase i’m going through, i’ve never really stopped loving cooking and baking. it may seem weird to have recipes on an eating disorder blog and some people, will no doubt, find it too weird to cope with. but i’ll never stop wanting to make (and eat) delicious food, generally from scratch. admittedly, part of it is a control thing. or maybe most of it is a control thing. who knows? while i know the nutritionally breakdown and calorie count of everything i cook, i’m certainly not going to add that here. i also don’t tend to use ‘healthy’ substitutions or try to cut calories/fat/sugar/whatever particularly. when i eat, i want it to taste good.

anyway, i’ll try to remember to put recipes behind a cut so you don’t need to read them if you don’t want to.

Continue reading “an act of violence against the self // mini oatmeal muffins”

everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped

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i was planning to do a weekly recap of good things on a friday. i know i’ll never keep it up though so i’ve shelved that idea. more pressingly though, i don’t really have any sense of what is good or bad any longer.

for example:

1) i had to buy a new (boring) black skirt for work on monday. despite buying a couple just before christmas, they are already hanging off me and i don’t think it looks hugely professional. i went into the next by my office and grabbed a uk size 8 off the rail. i don’t remember when i’ve ever bought a size 8 before in my life. i couldn’t bring myself to try it on in the shop as i was so convinced that i would be too fat for it. i got back to my office and went into the loos to try it on. it fit. more than that, it was actually a little bit too big.

is that good or bad? obviously my vanity thinks it’s a good thing. the rational part of my brain knows that being too small for a size 8 is a bad thing and had a small freak out.

2) i cooked two new recipes this week. one was an absolutely delicious lamb biryani which i will make over and over again. the other was a slightly less delicious (in my opinion) spicy pork, orzo and spinach thing. more to my husband’s taste than mine but still perfectly acceptable. this is good i think. i like making new recipes, particularly when they don’t turn out to be shit.

but i made both of them because the recipes, as written, came in at under 400 calories per portion. when you factor in the tweaks i made along the way and the fact that i always give myself somewhere between a half and two thirds of a portion, my calorie count for them was signficiantly lower.

3) i brought brownies into the office again on monday and have developed a somewhat devoted following. clearly salted caramel is the way to my colleagues’ hearts. i am going to make more brownies next week. my therapist told me this week that everyone probably knows that i have an eating disorder and that ‘people notice these things’. so whilst making brownies makes the team happy, which is obviously important, more than that i feel like nobody is going to guess that i have an eating disorder if i’m known as the office brownie queen (my new official title). so is that good or bad? i don’t know.

so there we have it. i’m mired in the middle of this upside down world, not knowing where to turn or what to think about anything.

in the meantime, i’m off to a meeting. my job, ironically, is to provide the treats.

{title quotation from a moveable feast by ernest hemingway}

the only way to understand a river is to jump into it

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i think my therapist tried to dump me today. i was slightly taken aback although, in hindsight, it makes sense. the reasons why i started seeing him 8 months ago have largely been dealt with. all that i have left now is my old friend; my eating disorder.

he can help with the eating disorder of course (he either said he would like to help or that he’d be happy to help. annoyingly, i can’t remember which). but he’s only willing to help if i want help. otherwise it’s just a waste of time (his) and money (mine).

i know that he’s right. i know that my eating is an issue. i’m (generally) an intelligent, rational, sensible person. i know it’s not healthy to lose ~ 3 stone in a couple of months and take a perverse pleasure in making those closest to you think that you are eating a healthy balanced diet. i know that this is just about control really.

i control my food –> i control my body –> i control my life.

i know that i’ve got it the wrong way round though and really this is controlling me.

but still, i can’t stop.

he told me to think about it over the next week and decide what i want to do.

on the way home, i walked in and out of coffee shops and bakeries. at every stop, i thought about buying something and sitting there and eating it but i couldn’t. i went to tesco and thought about buying something for lunch but i couldn’t stop staring at the calorie counts of everything so just settled on buying some broccoli and a pint of milk so my husband can make his porridge in the morning.

then i went and sat by the river in regent’s park. it was so cold that my hands still haven’t recovered. it was there that i made the very mature decision to email the clinic’s reception and cancel my appointment for next week. a pre-emptive strike if you will; dumping him before he could dump me. i’ll be back the week after i’m sure. whether i’m ready to jump into the river is a different question though.

{title quotation from the museum of extraordinary things by alice hoffman}