The Care and Feeding of Us- Part II
We’ve talked about K’s bizarre food preferences (The Care & Feeding of Us-Part I); now I’m going to tell you how her mental illness affects the physical way she eats. In Part I, I think I demonstrated that she’s OCD when she eats (in that no foods on her plate can touch, and no food in her mouth can mix), but I’ll go even further. I’ll tell you just how OCD K really is. It takes her a long time to get ready to eat. She has to prepare her plate, by separating her food into categories. There are different categories for different types of food; some foods are separated by color, others by texture or shape. Let me give you an example: K loves Lucky Charms cereal, but she must eat it in a certain way. First, she eats all of the crunchy oat pieces out of the bowl. Next, she eats each marshmallow one color and shape at a time, and in a specific order (In this case, yellow is first, blue is always last). K “saves the best for last”, so if there’s a bite she’s especially interested in, say the crunchiest, blackest part of her well-done hamburger, she’ll eat that bite last, after the rest of the burger has been eaten. Also, she always eats symmetrically. Take one bite from the left side, take one bite from the right side. One bite from the meat/entree, and one bite from each side item, in a counter-clockwise direction. Yes, this is time-consuming, but she’s compelled to do it.
Food is often cut or separated into small pieces before she begins to eat, and this serves two purposes: it allows her to equally distribute a sauce or gravy onto bites of food, and it also gives her the ability to easily count the number of bites she eats. I’m not going to go into great detail here, let me just say that K does a kind of numerology, and the number of bites eaten has to be what K considers to be a “good” number (3 is the best number). During this process, K is also “editing” her meal, meaning she’s picking out everything green as well as anything unwanted, such as peppers or onions, plus she scrapes off any unwanted sauce. At home, of course, she has to do less of this; her husband does the cooking and tries to accommodate her tastes. Some things can’t be made to K’s liking and she has to pick out a lot of ingredients (example=chili). Needless to say, K is a slow eater, and she can be terribly self-conscious about all of these rituals, so she prefers to eat in private. (Not all of the K’s are like this; some of us are less uptight and enjoy dining out very much.) It’s so complicated just to get a bite to eat!
Of course, the K(s) with an eating disorder tries to avoid eating altogether, and will take diet pills and appetite suppressants and guzzle energy drinks instead of consuming food. I am trying to get K to be more health-conscious, but I’m outnumbered by the other K’s. Before the ARDS incident (When Do People Sleep Around Here?), our breakfast/lunch consisted of two pots of coffee and however many cigarettes we could chain smoke during the consumption of that coffee. Now, we don’t smoke (well, I think The Kellie does), but we still drink our two pots of coffee in the morning. And then we can, and often do, drink additional cups or a pot at night. K is a coffee fiend. Probably not the best thing, considering how poor her diet is… and the worst part of all is that she doesn’t even take vitamins. Her doctor put her on some prescription strength vitamins once, but she threw them up (perhaps her body didn’t know what to do with nutrients!), so now we don’t take any sort of supplements. I know we should, and every January I make a New Year’s resolution to take vitamins everyday, but our memory is so bad we always forget… On many occasions I’ve found bottles of vitamins, some expensive, and the bottle is always nearly full but has expired, so it appears that I try to get K to take vitamins at times, I just can’t stick around long enough to see that she actually takes them.
I wish that I, and Switch Kellie (aka Smart Kellie), could join forces and take control of K’s body and mind and see to it that she develops some healthy habits. I’ve been trying to get Switch Kellie to come back out-I can feel her just under the surface of our consciousness; she’s always with us, listening, since this last “episode”-but so far she just speaks to me, not through me. Hopefully, one day soon, Switch Kellie will come forward again and take over and whip us back into shape; I’m good at controlling K’s cravings and monitoring her food intake, but I need Switch Kellie to motivate us to work out. All of this sounds absolutely nuts, and I suppose it IS, but this is the reality that we, the K’s, are currently existing in. …and wouldn’t you know it? My stomach is growling, but we can’t agree on whether or not we’re hungry.