Yesterday I wrote about getting the bus as one of the challenges of getting out and about a bit more now after being housebound with severe pregnancy nausea for three months.

Another key challenge for me now is going to eating and drinking places.

Even though I now feel substantially better (due to being medicated) I still have quite a negative relationship with food.  I still can’t shop for, select or prepare food.  The husband brings me food and I eat it.  I eat it quickly.  I rarely enjoy the act of eating.  Any food smells have to be masked by scented candles.  And this is how it is in my own home in totally controlled conditions.

I used to love eating.  A lot of my social life has focused around eating and drinking – meeting a friend for a pint or a coffee or lunch or dinner, going to a friend’s house for any of these or having someone round at mine.

I have not been able to face any of these activities in whilst I’ve been ill.  A few reasons why.

Reason one: The smell.  As I mentioned yesterday I can smell everything, and strong smells make me nauseous.  Spicy or garlic-laced food is the worst, but anywhere that sells hot food smells of food and I feel constantly uncomfortable being there.  If somewhere smells of alcohol, that’s constantly unpleasant for me too.  In a pub or restaurant, the smells are simply impossible to mask.  They are strong and that is the nature of the environment.

Reason two: Portion sizes.  I have not been eating such big portions as I used to.  Seeing (or even thinking about) a big plate full of food makes me feel sick and overwhelmed.  A restaurant sized portion would be too much for me.  When it came I would hate having it in front of me, I might not even be able to start eating it because it would feel like such an ordeal.  If I ate some and left some and had to wait for it to be cleared, I’d feel extremely uncomfortable having the leftovers in front of me for any length of time.

Reason three: Feeling overwhelmed.  Not liking thinking about food, and a general underlying depression, has left me overwhelmed… particularly by ‘choice’.  Making a decision is hard.  Making a decision between a great list of things that you don’t really want is even harder. When you go to a restaurant you get a menu.  The thought of looking at a menu still fills me with dread.  Having to think about lists of different food in great quantities.  Seeing ‘appetising’ descriptions of ingredients and side dishes.  Needing to choose the least awful thing.  I feel sick thinking about it, let alone doing it.

Reason four: Looking at people eating.  Friends, other diners.  Even if I’m not.  Sitting there and seeing that.  Shudder.

Reason five: The social element.  I don’t like eating for all of the above reasons so I can’t concentrate on the social element.  I just feel uncomfortable sitting around food in a leisurely manner.  This does not make for a fun meal.

Even now I feel substantially better, just thinking about any of the above turns my stomach.

Therefore the idea of going to a café or pub or restaurant scares the shit out of me.

Not being able to be with food has severely restricted my social life.  I’ve turned down an awful lot of standard invitations to such things and my friends have not really known what to do with that.  Unfortunately due to being both overwhelmed and depressed I’ve not known what to do with it either.  I’ve not felt well enough or mentally capable of making suggestions myself, or expressing this in a way that enables my friends to make suggestions to me for other things we could do.  Consequently I’ve barely seen anyone socially in months.  And that is lonely.

I need to try and get back in the game, but it will be tentative at first.