I’ve debated long and hard whether to blog about this. But it happened. It affected me very powerfully so I feel I must. I hope it’ll help anyone else who faces a sudden shock, trauma or unexpected change in their life. And then inevitably thinks, the last thing I need to worry about right now is my diet!
No names, no pack drills as I want to respect this person’s privacy and that of his family but suffice it to say, someone from my past whom I once loved very much died on Saturday and it sent me into a tailspin which shook me horribly and from which I am only just emerging.
I knew his death was imminent. His family were kind enough to keep me in the loop for which I am very grateful. It would’ve been far worse to hear out the blue. With his passing, it’s like my youth suddenly came rushing back in one huge whooosh and then went again. I’m also faced with a touch of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance: holding two different thoughts at the same time.
As well as feeling unbearably sad and upset I also keep thinking, should I be upset? This isn’t MY grief, not really, not anymore. Am I allowed to be upset?
Well I am upset so that’s that. You can’t help how you feel and analysing it is pretty pointless. I’m grieving. I’m grieving for what we had, for what was. But basically, I’m just grieving! So, to get back to the job in hand here, how does that affect a diet?
Loss of appetite
In the face of such a searing loss it seems crass, wrong even, to write about a diet. But I started this blog to help me stick to my diet – which as I said at the beginning is not about vanity and appearance but for compelling health reasons – and in the hope it may help others too. I’ve always known it’s likely I have few readers, if any, but it still feels necessary to continue even after my incredibly traumatic weekend.
When I heard my former partner was slowly slipping away, my appetite literally vanished. I heard at about midday on Friday that the end was close. I excused myself the rigours of the Paleo diet and made myself a sweetened cup of coffee. With milk. My Mum is no longer with us but it’s what she would’ve recommended. Well, actually, she’d have suggested sweetened tea. I’ve no idea if this does actually make any medical difference but it was a huge comfort. (Do they still suggest sweet tea for shock?)
I’m a great believer in food as a comforter. We don’t just eat because we have to in order to survive no, we eat for pleasure, for tranquillising. But shock and great upset have always caused me to lose my appetite. While I have always taken comfort in food for mild shock or minor upsets, the really big stuff always drains my appetite. It may be some primitive reaction of the flight or fight kind, I’ve no idea. And others may deal differently but that’s what happens to me.
Over eating after under eating?
I feared as I always have that missing a meal means over compensating later and eating far more than you would have done if you hadn’t missed a meal! Kind of, well, I deserve this, I skipped lunch! But I hadn’t skipped lunch. It skipped me! So no, I didn’t over eat to make up for it. In fact I missed lunch again the next day, Saturday, still feeling numb and in shock.
When the news finally came that the former love of my life had gone, I felt a kind of relief. The relief you always feel when someone has been suffering horribly. I was glad he was past his pain but devastated he’d been in such pain. I had feared hearing the final piece of news because I had no idea how it would hit me, his illness having already hit me hard. But in fact, it felt a little like a liberation. No longer waiting by the phone or email inbox. Dreading the news. Anticipatory anxiety can be as bad as the real thing. And I have had some experience of bereavement. You don’t get to my age and not. That helped.
Back on my head now!
So life goes on and I’m back on my head now. Got MOT to sort, tax, and all the usual stuff of a modern busy life. If I had a job, I wouldn’t have been able to get even one day’s compassionate leave. It would’ve been very odd trying to explain why I might’ve needed it. As I’m self-employed, well it’s up to me to be kind to myself as an employer but also to continue to demand the work that’s necessary of my employee to pay the bills! A writer’s life is not an easy one for most who ply this trade.
But writing is what I do so I thought I should write about this. He’s all I can think about right now anyway. I have stuck to the diet. I did go a wee bit off piste adding sugar and milk to my coffee but I felt my psychological needs at that time far outweighed my physical ones. I am now Paleo-ing again! And had a very enjoyable breakfast of one and a half sausages (heated up from yesterday) and one fried egg. I know from past experience this will keep me going for quite some time. And who knows, maybe the shock that stopped me wanting my lunch two days running was as much to do with a high-protein breakfast that gave me a firm foundation for the day? If I’d had my former high carb breakfast, could I have skipped lunch so easily and not felt ill as a result? Now there’s some food for thought.