My life has changed a lot over the last few months, and at times I have felt all over the place. Mostly I cope well but occasionally I can feel myself spiralling into a big ball of anxiety. I have found this blog helpful to unpick my behaviours and make sense of them, and hopefully it may help anyone reading too.
One thing that has struck me over the past few weeks is that my default setting whenever I do spiral is to forget to eat. That may be annoying for any of you reading who battle with your weight, but trust me: being so anxious that you feel sick at the thought of food isn’t much fun either! I also went for dinner recently with somebody I don’t know that well, and found it a real effort to eat in front of them. I’ve been trying to make sense of all this and I think I’ve finally cracked the case.
When I feel low or very anxious I simply don’t bother to look after myself because I don’t think I’m worth it. Not ‘worth it’ in the sense of the cosmetics ads with the flicky hair, but ‘worth it’ as in caring enough to want to nourish myself. Food is fundamentally fuel for the body – petrol to give it energy to get through the day. If I’m feeling low and have no energy, food is way down on my list of priorities, and when I feel very anxious and hyperactive I have no interest in eating either. This isn’t because I’m trying to starve myself. My problem isn’t with food: my problem is with me. Simply put, I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve to eat.
When I see people who love food, I see people who love life. The best example of this I can think of are Italians – I really think they have got life figured out. Surely ‘La Dolce Vita’ is something we should all be aiming for. People who truly love food see the joy in eating a beautiful meal and can enjoy the sensuous experience that it offers. My default meal of choice, on the other hand, is tea and toast, and that says it all really! A dear friend of mine likes to point out to me that my favourite foods are all beige and bland: my staple diet consists of hummous, toast, oatcakes, rice and cheese (only cheddar mind you, nothing fancy, and for the love of god please not melted). I like safe foods that don’t really taste of anything much, and which fill me up without me having to think too much.
I am making progress though. Up until a few years ago I never ate lunch – I would eat breakfast purely to be able to take my medication without being sick, and then go all day without eating anything until the evening. Obviously this is not a great idea. Skipping meals on a regular basis means your blood sugar levels are going to be continually low which will do nothing to improve your mood. I got myself a NutriBullet and now drink wildly healthy concoctions on a daily basis. It’s a great way to get vitamins into you if you can’t face a lot of food. Other tips I have picked up along the way include eating little and often instead of trying to force down big meals. Avoiding too much sugar is also a good idea, but quite honestly if you are struggling to eat anything, a bar of chocolate is better than nothing at all. Omega 3 and Vitamin B are great for the old head, and taking supplements of these on a regular basis has definitely helped me.
I’m clearly not an expert, and if you are reading this and feel you may have serious issues with food, then please speak to somebody. I would also recommend anything you can get your hands on by Emma Woolf; an incredibly brave and honest writer who has documented her recovery from anorexia in a series of newspaper articles and books. I hope my few cents worth might help too if you are reading this and feeling anxious in any way.