One of the nights last week was just a prime example of this. Before I sat down I tried to soothe my anxious mindset, telling myself that it will be grand, I can do this, I have nothing to fear, I can do this. Ed is not going to win this battle. Sadly, in this case, Ed did. I was not strong enough.
I had done some of my lovely roast garlicy potatoes, and had heaped them in a large serving dish for everyone to help themselves. I waited nervously for everyone to finish doing their own, before tentatively picking up the spoon. I could feel the colour rising in my face, a prickly, unpleasant sensation creeping along the bumps of my spine. And then...the Voice. You can't - have - more than -
That doesn't look enough, I should have more...
No, you can't, Em. The all too familiar voice of Ed.
I can... Weakly, I try to resist.
You cannot. You CANNOT. You - will - not...
"Emmy, have some more, for God's sake." Mam's voice, sharp and as tight as her face, cut across the dialogue in my head like a fist smashing through thin glass.
"No, no I don't want anymore, that's what I normally have". The words were stuttered and slurred because I knew, deep down, that it was a lie. I felt like my head was spinning at about a hundred miles per hour; as if I were plummeting through some infinite, gaping, dizzying space.
And the evening was ruined, again...because of Ed.
Like the beautiful trees of my garden...we all have the strength deep inside us, to grow, and reach for the sky...<3 xxx
I don't ever want that to happen again. Because, after all...coming together as a family to sit down for a meal together...should be a pleasurable and enjoyable occasion, a special time of the day for conversation and laughter and shared stories. Not anxiety, panic, fear. Because that's what Ed does to me, at mealtimes. And I can honestly say, I am sick of it...I don't want to feel like that anymore, ever again. So I am determined to overcome this obstacle, the same way as I am determined to conquer my meal plan mission. And I do feel stronger, now. I know that I am stronger. I realise now that there is nothing that I cannot overcome.
So, here are my current strategies on how to deal with my mealtime anxiety. perhaps you will be able to use them too, if you can relate to my difficulties in any way.
- Allowing Mam to serve up my dinner portions until I get stronger.
- When possible have meals with others always.
- The "fake it until you make it" method. When I was in hospital, the meals were served up for us and we had to eat them: it wasn't something we had a say in, or any agency in whatsoever. So, I am going to put myself in that situation again, when I am sitting having dinner at home and Mam serves up for me. I am just going to say to myself: I have no control or choice in regards to the meals. I have to eat it; I have to stick to my meal plan, I have to eat what is put in front of me...there is no other option.
- Always remind myself of the bigger picture. Why should I have fear of the food? It is going to make me stronger, healthier, and ED weaker. And when Ed gets weaker...I know that I will get healthier, happier, and strongr. Stronger than ED.
- Talking back to the Voice...I now have a load of different defence stances at my disposal. My favourite one, as given to me by my dear friend who has helped me so much in regards to recovery. "Ed? you know what? You're just a conniving piece of shit who is trying to bring me down and take away everything that I have. You're trying to convince me that I will be huge, if I eat my dinner and don't restrict like you used to make me do. Well, it's over, Ed. I am not going to listen to you any more...because my eyes have been opened and I can clearly see you for the lying, manipulative, evil little thing that you really are...
- Ask for support when I need it. I am feeling anxious or panicky, tell my Mam how I am feeling. Distract myself from the food by listening to the others talking and joining in the conversation too.