Saturday, April 17, 2010

a look inside

I finally convinced myself to get up from my chair and walk the loooong walk (at least it will burn some calories) to the other side of the hospital where the cafeteria is. There is no one here making sure I eat, no one who will notice if I eat or not. Fridays, it's easier for me to get my butt to the cafeteria because there are a couple people who are aware of my situation and will notice if I go or not. But Saturdays, it's different. And usually, the ED wins on Saturdays. But not today. I am not letting it win today! Today I am walking down to the cafeteria. I am nervous. I am filled with anxiety.

I walk into the cafeteria. There are a lot of people here. I stand back in a corner so I don't get in the way. I watch as people pick what they want and order so quickly! How can they know what they want so fast!? It always takes me forever to decide what to get. That's why I stand out of the way. I start to look at the menu. I am not in here very often so I still don't know the menu very well. It's posted on the wall. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot the salad bar. "No jenn, don't look at it! That's not an option." I say to myself. I look over at the daily specials that are hot and ready for people to order. "Nope! Definitely not having that - too scary today!"

I glance back over at the salad bar. That would be the quick, easy, SAFE choice. But I am supposed to be challenging myself. I am supposed to be recovering. So I give a sigh and take a deep breath and look away from the salad bar. I look back at the regular menu on the wall and continue to dissect the items on the menu- mentally placing them in order of the most caloric and fattening to the least. I try not to do this. I know I shouldn't be doing this. But I have to! I am scared of what will happen if I choose the wrong thing. What if I make a mistake? What if I pick something and it's too hard for me to eat it? Then I will have to throw it away, and I will have failed...again!

More and more people are ordering. People are sitting at the tables. Some are eating alone, some are eating with others. But nobody seems to be concerned about what they are eating. "What would that be like? What would that feel like to eat and enjoy? To eat and carry on conversations with other people and not be obsessing about every bite?" The anxiety is getting worse. I need to hurry up and order already! I am taking too long. I look behind me at the fridge - so many choices in there too!! I don't know what to get! So many choices! "Why can't I just pick the salad bar and get out of here?" Do I pick something that is safe or do I challenge myself and pick something a bit more scary - something that sounds like it would be yummy?? Do I pick that and then risk the feelings of guilt that are sure to attack me once I start eating? Am I strong enough to fight off those ed thoughts today? Some days I am. Maybe this is one of those days.

Finally I pick something. It is a more challenging food. Its about in the middle of my mental list of the safest to the scariest. I start to approach the cook to tell him what I want. But wait! Am I sure that's what I should get? Maybe I need to rethink this decision and make sure I am choosing the right thing. Ugh! WHY do they have so many choices! This is too overwhelming for me! I wish they just had a few options. That would be so much easier. After a few minutes of more arguing to myself. I pick a different item. It's still in the middle of my list. "Okay, I am just going to hurry and order and just get out of here!" I order and I pay. I don't want to eat in the cafeteria. I hate eating in front of other people. It's too hard for me. I feel too self-conscious. So I walk back down to my desk where I am volunteering today. I am working by myself today and not very many people are coming in to ask for directions. So I won't have to worry about feeling self-conscious as I eat.

I sit down and take a deep breath. But the battle is only half over. Now I have to actually get through the meal with all the thoughts of how much should I eat, what should I eat first, how fast or slow should I eat?........
This is usually how it goes for me when I go to restaurants, cafeteria's, ect. It's a process for me. It has been for a very long time. Way too long. But I am working on it. I am trying to not be so obsessive. People are always curious about what goes on in my head and why it takes me so long to order or decide what I am going to eat. It's because I am obsessing and arguing (or agreeing sometimes) with the ED thoughts. And of course, the length of time and the amount of obsessing depends on where I am in my recovery at the moment but it's never an easy thing for me... going back and forth between items on menus. Not sure "what I want" or "what I should get." My indecision is horrible when it comes to food. I am always amazed and in awe of people who know what they want and can order so quickly! Why aren't they obsessing about the calories and fat grams? Why aren't they looking and dissecting every single item on the menu? Why don't they have anxiety over "should I get something safe or should I challenge myself and get something that sounds good?"


  1. kudos for ordering something right in the middle of your range. that's what i would've done.

  2. good for you! This used to be really hard for me too, but I am now about to order something a little quicker. I still have my moments of anxiety where I have had to change my mind a few times in the middle of ordering. One day I hope both of us can order without worrying about it and then enjoy the meal like any other person!

  3. I get that it can be hard to order something for yourself as you argue with yourself over what to eat, the calories in the meal etc. I miss the times when I could just order whatever is yummy and not care at all about how many calories are in the food!
    Well done for going to the cafeteria and challenging yourself and picking something in the middle of your range! :)
    Take care,
    Cassie x

  4. Tough. Good job though. Were you able to eat without feeling sick or feeling guilt? It's hard but you're going in the right direction. =)

  5. Good job for making progress! It's good to hear you're trying so hard. There are so many people who want to see you succeed. YAY JENN!!! You rock! :)

  6. i can totally FEEL what you are going through at that moment. you write so well, you really captured it- felt like i was standing there deciding alongside you. way to go wiah your decision and for the self-talk and facing your fears!

    xoxo Tia

  7. Well done you for challenging yourself! Seriously the more you do this, the easier this will become with time. You have practised certain behaviours around food for so long that they have become habits, so it will take a while to replace these with new and better habits. But you CAN do it, just keep going!

    Sarah x

  8. I'm so proud! This is awesome :) I totally understand 100% about the choosing. I am completely indecisive about almost every aspect of my life. It's a little crazy! Luckily, with recovery, it's getting better :) Good job dear!

    Love, Andy

  9. Jenn, so proud of you!
    Thankyou for writing so honestly and completely - it is comforting to read your words and think, oh i am really not the only one who can't cope with deciding/the full-on anxiety,etc etc!
    I basically am at the point in recovery where i still take my own food out with me, as i am only comfortable with that at the moment - it has the exact calories,protein,fat,carbs etc that i have to have - its not skimping, yet its not challenging myself to choose, as it simply overwhelms me right now.
    In the next couple of weeks, my dietician and psych are going to give me challenges which include choosing and eating foods out somewhere.
    I am so grateful that you wrote this post as it will be so beneficial for me - THANKYOU sweetheart.
    And THANKYOU SO VERY MUCH for your BEAUTIFUL comment on my blog the other day - it made me get tears and i quickly showed my partner,as it meant so much to me.
    I was quite overwhelmed!!
    I love you and love your writing.
    Please keep being YOU, and keep going forward.
    Huge safe hugs from me,
    Jennifer xxoooooo

  10. this is a very touch-home and powerful post. i relate to it a lot. the constant back forth back forth i think, i know, maybe not, i think, i know, should i ?? i am SO SOSSOOOOO indecisivie when it comes to the stress and anxiety about putting a flippin meal together. GREAT post, i am glad i am not the only one

    i also look at others and am like OMG look at them, they just in the world..??? confuses me...