Recovery is a rollercoaster. It goes through so many highs and lows on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. When I first came into hospital, it was a fairly tame rollercoaster ride. There was the odd bump, and a fair few dips, but there were rarely any highs, and on the whole, things were very flat and grey. I couldn’t feel emotions because my brain and body were so starved.
These days I can definitely feel emotions. Sometimes they’re intense, sometimes they’re background noise. But I’m always feeling.
This isn’t a bad thing! Sometimes it might feel like a bad thing because the lows can be hard to cope with and being curled up sobbing isn’t my idea of a good time. However, on the whole my mood is better than it was, and the highs make it all worth it. So worth it. I’m finally able to live again. I’m able to experience life and engage with the world. It’s overwhelmingly amazing.
I thought I’d run through yesterday to give people a bit of idea of how all-over-the-place recovery can be. People often wonder what happens on an eating disorder unit, and to be honest it’s probably not as exciting as people think, but anyway, here is some of yesterday:
6.30: I’m woken up by my alarm. On Mondays and Thursdays we have to get weighed before 7am. So it’s one of my early start mornings. I stumbled out of my (very hard) bed and into the bathroom across the hall, then walked down the corridor to wait to be weighed (which can sometimes feel like waiting to be kicked in the head). Weigh-in completed, I sloped off back to my room. I was tired, my head was kicking off, I felt nervous and anxious, and my mood wasn’t the best.
6.45: I started packing to go home. I was pretty stressed and all over the place with thinking about going home and ‘what if I forget stuff?’ and various other things. But I was also excited.
7.00: I sat on my bed, laptop out, and did some work. I went back to Blurt for 4 hours a week last week which is one of the best things ever and really helpful for my recovery. I got absorbed in my work for a bit.
8.00: Breakfast time. I was still anxious and my mood wasn’t great. I can’t remember the specifics of breakfast yesterday – they all merge into one. But it involves coming up table by table to individually pour out our cereal while a staff member watches to check we’re doing the right amount. We have 10 minutes to eat it in. Then we go back to the lounge for morning meeting and 40 minutes rest.
9.15ish: I went to Asda with some friends. We were going to see The Script that night, so were picking up food for the car later on. A group of patients with anorexia all trying to buy food at once could be a bit of a drawn-out and disastrous experience, but we actually managed it okay!
10.15: Mid-morning snack time followed by 10 minutes rest. I was still feeling very jittery and all-over-the-place.
10.45: Normally creative group is on a Thursday morning, but nobody wanted to go this week. Emotions were running a little high on the ward – there were a few people leaving and a new person being admitted. So there was a general feeling of anxiety and a fair few tears. I went to my room to do some “homework”. I had to fill in a sheet for BAT 10 (body awareness therapy 10). This was tricky. The day before I’d started mirror exposure which had left me curled up in tears for a long time feeling completely and utterly hopeless, scared, uncertain, and lost.
12.00: Lunch time. Similarly to breakfast, we’re guided when portioning. I sat on a table with some lovely, hilarious people and we had lots of laughs. I had a discussion with one of the HCAs (Health Care Assisstants) about something. She said she trusted me on the thing we were discussing, I asked her if she always trusted me and she said not always – it was a stark reminder that anorexia can still turn me into a complete and utter knob at times. My friend did comment that I was a bit quieter than usual. I was just really tired.
13.05ish: Lunch rest. I didn’t know what to do with myself because I couldn’t settle on anything. A few of us googled lots of funny animal facts which was a good way to pass rest and was a great distraction. It also lifted my mood a little.
13.40: The ward doctor grabbed me. Despite being weight restored, my body still isn’t quite behaving itself which is really frustrating and very hard mentally. I checked whether I can drink alcohol on all the meds I’m on; she told me to go for it!
14.00: My OT (occupational therapist) found me and we had an unexpected appointment. It ended up being 45 minutes and brought up a lot of stuff and gave me a lot to think about, but it was really helpful.
14.45: As I was walking back down the corridor, my dietitian grabbed me and we had a quick appointment.
15.00: Afternoon snack time! Rest was cut short by the psychology group and then I spent about 5 minutes running all over the place trying to find everything I needed because some of it was accidentally packed, some was in the lounge, some of it was in another communal area – I was just very nervous and scatty.
15.15: MANTRA (Maudsley Model of Anorexia Treatment for Adults) time! This is a psychology group which some of us attend. It was a bit of a mind-blowing and confusing group, but interesting and useful.
16.30: Time to grab bags, meds, and leave! I was going on leave a bit early because of going to The Script concert with three other patients (we were very nervously excited!). There was a bit of a problem with my meds and the new prescription. But some absolute stars in the form of nurses sorted it out for me, and off we went.
16.45: We all had our tea in the car on the way to Scarborough. We chatted, laughed, and sang to the radio the whole way there.
18.30ish: We arrived. The sea air was so fresh. We breathed it in deeply and discussed how much we’d love to bottle it up and bring it back to the ward. There was a steep hill to go down to the theatre which we ran-walked down. We felt so free. On the way in there was a little train which a friend and I promptly clambered into for a photo. I had my first alcoholic drink in 2.5 years. It didn’t take long for it to go straight to my head which resulted in an awful lot of giggling. The Script were incredible! We danced, laughed, sang, loved, hugged, took photos, and smiled the whole time. We lived. We really lived. We experienced it all.
22.30ish: The concert ended. We were on such a high. We discussed how much we wouldn’t have been able to do that had we not been at the point in recovery that we currently are. We’d booked the concert on a whim a few months before whilst on rest after breakfast one day (an advert for it had come up on TV). We got back to the car and had supper before heading home.
23.30ish: I arrived home to my brother. He was staying over because we had plans for the next day. He’s never stayed over at my house before so that in itself was super lovely. After reflecting and journaling, I headed to bed feeling tired but so happy, so content, and so motivated to keep pushing forward.
Recovery is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I want more nights like this. It’s time to start living.