Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I'm going to start this post off with a little rant, and then I'll move on to them important stuff.
I woke up to this view from my bedroom window:
I like snow... in theory. I like the concept of drinking warm tea with the soothing sounds of Christmas music in the background while looking out the window at the lazily drifting snowflakes. Unfortunately, I forget the extreme cold, the pain of the ice-crystals whipping at your face, and the hours needed to be spent shoveling snow. I had to buy something at the shop today and a walk that normally takes 10 minutes tops took 20. I felt like I got a good work out, because walking through knee deep snow drifts was NOT EASY. By the time I got back my fingers were so cold they were in pain and swollen. Not my idea of fun. I love me a white Christmas, but why can't it just snow during Christmas?
Not to mention I have driving classes to attend. Now why I decided to take up driving lessons in the beginning of winter is beyond me. But that's ok, I'll finish my psychoanalysis in my free time.
Today I gave ED something to complain about. My stomach was feeling kind of weird all afternoon. Came time for dinner, I whipped up something small, rather bland and simple - just the thing to take care of my stomach discomfort. But something still wasn't right. "Was it hunger?" I wondered inwardly. I seemed to be craving something sweet. So I drank half a cup of juice. Nope, still not right. After a few moments deliberation I took 1/2 a banana out of the fridge, topped it with 2 tbs full-fat yogurt and dumped a few almonds. And I ate it - the first "desert" I've had in over 2 years. As I was eating I inwardly wondered how I was going to react;physically and mentally. Honestly afterwards I felt even worse. Something in my stomach was really weirding out. Of course along came ED with her "advice" - "Next time drink tea if you feel hungry. You overate, that's why you feel so gross". But instead of beating myself up (like I used to) and trying to think of ways I could do "penance" for my sins, I IGNORED the nagging voice in my head. I know all to well the feeling I get when I'm stuffed, and this was NOT it. In about 30 minutes I felt better, all my stomach discomfort had passed and I felt alive and full of energy. As a matter of fact I still do. To me this is further proof that my ED is full of ****. It really is. And sometimes doing whats right for your body may not feel "right" immediately - but it is in the long run.
Sometimes I forget how much I love defying my ED. I forget the thrilling freedom that comes from ignoring that voice in your head. Challenging myself to new and different things gives me such a rush; like a crazy roller-coaster ride. I'm scared, terrified at first, but it's always so worth it. And I love the fact that every time I do, I am taking one step closer to total and complete recovery.
Have you done anything to defy your ED recently?
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Re-feeding has to be one of the most frustrating/confusing/mentally agonizing process I've ever had to go through. I've experienced in twice - once in IP and once at home. There were different factors in both these situations and ones that were similar. They are things I have come to accept as facts when it comes to re-feeding.
- Re-feeding is uncomfortable physically. I personally experienced a lot of pain and bloating for the first 2 months of the process. It isn't pleasant and it really makes you want to quit. But if you stick it out for just a little longer eventually things get better and the unpleasant symptoms go away.
- Re-feeding is anxiety provoking. You are constantly hit by thoughts like: "Am I eating too much?" "Is this binge eating?" "Will I gain 100 kgs from this one bite of food?" Although these thoughts seem very real at the moment, I know from experience that they are usually unfounded and pretty illogical. So I just sit them out and try to not let them influence my actions in a detrimental way.
- You will never feel you did everything 100% right with re-feeding. If you are working with a dietitian or in IP and have a set meal plan you will always feel the people in charge are doing something wrong, that the laws of nutrition magically apply to everyone else - just not you. If you are working on your own it's even harder. You CONSTANTLY second guess yourself and get hit with a lot of guilt.
I am currently working through re-feeding myself. I don't have the money at the moment to consult a dietitian, so I'm doing the best I can on my own. It's hard, and there are days I wonder if everything I do is going to back-fire on me some day. I used to struggle with a lot of guilt. This is mainly because in IP I was FORCED to eat. It was that or a feeding tube. So I could sort of justify it in my head and say "Well, I'd have to eat anyways, I might as well get it over with". Also, I knew I couldn't leave till I reached a certain weight. So I ate, while mentally rebelling against it the whole time.
Now things are different. The process is definitely slower, but I feel it's more long lasting. I feel the need to gain weight and eat properly not because I am FORCED to, but because I WANT to. It's a personal choice. This makes is harder for my ED thoughts to cope with, but it is better in the long run because I am pushing myself harder to overcome these thoughts as opposed to just pushing them aside. I am learning to ENJOY food and the process of eating. It's odd that something so basic has to be practically re-learned from scratch, but that's just how it is. And I've accepted that.
I've also accepted the fact that I can't be perfect at recovery/re-feeding, just as I can't be perfect at other aspects of my life. There are some days I eat too little, or have the wrong "balance" of foods.Other days I eat too much, or eat something that affects my body in a negative way. But that's ok. I never promised anyone perfection, I only promised I would do my best. And I am doing my best.
Something that has really helped me was the concept of intuitive eating. I've mentioned this before, but it really did open my eyes to the fact that my body generally knows what it needs more then my mind does. Sure, I still have to do my part to make sure it's balanced (as in if all I'm craving all day is veggies it's probably a good idea for me to eat something else). But it's so liberating to be able to say "I feel like eating a ....(fill in the blank with pretty much anything)" and just eat it without it being a big deal. And I know it's ok because it's what my body wanted and generally my body wants something for a reason. It's really a comforting knowledge.
Of course I think the concept of intuitive eating needs to be applied only to a certain extent during re-feeding. I personally need to force myself to eat sometimes, even if I don't feel like it, just so I can gain. If I were to "listen to my body 100%" I probably wouldn't eat that extra little bit of food. They say ideally you should stop eating when you are 80% full. I stop at 100%. I eat things I don't particularly feel like eating, because I know it's necessary for me right now.
And I struggle with this. I feel like I'm somehow "betraying" my body by forcing it into eating. I fear I will develop unhealthy habits which will make me keep gaining weight my whole life. And this is what I struggle most with at the moment.
Any personal experiences/thoughts you can share on my dilemma?
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I love the holiday season. The lights, the decorations, the music. Everything around me seems to hug me in a warm fuzzy blanket of Christmas cheer. But there are some things in particular that warm me like a cup of mulled wine (never had it before? I highly recommend it :D). Like this song for instance:
"Don't Save It All For Christmas Day"
Don't get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss
To the ones you love
Don't even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough
How many people are crying
People are dying...
How many people are asking for love
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
How could you wait another minute
A hug is warmer when you're in it
And Baby that's a fact
And saying "I love you's" always better
Seasons, reasons, they don't matter
So don't hold back
How many people in this world
So needful in this world
How many people are praying for love
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Let all the children know
Everywhere that they go
Their whole life long
Let them know love
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Listening to that song today got me thinking. I am the happiest when I am making others happy. I am the happiest when I am completely unconcerned with myself and my own wants and feelings and focused on others. It's so liberating to be free from thinking about yourself and psychoanalyzing your own thoughts and emotions. It's so nice to reach out and make someone else feel loved and special.
I guess this post could tie into Thanksgiving as well (although I'm not American so I don't celebrate it). Most people say they are most thankful for the people around them – their family and friends. But when was the last time you showed these people how grateful you are for them? When was the last time you told them how much they mean to you? When was the last time you gave a family member a hug? When was the last time you showed your love in a tangible way?
Let's challenge ourselves during this season to show the people around us how much they mean to us. Let's reach out with arms of love and appreciation to the ones who make our lives special. Let's share some Christmas cheer and make others know that they are noticed, loved and important. Let's tell them how much worse our lives would be if they weren't in them. I guarantee that by doing so you will feel much better yourself. Because there is something magical about love; whenever you give it away, it always comes back to you.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
That's right, I haven't closed my pro-ana blog. But wait, before you make assumptions or judgments listen to my reasons for keeping it open. If I was ever tempted to go back to my old ways I wanted to have a realistic picture of what life with an ED was like. After a while in recovery I tend to forget the horrors of life with anorexia. I tell myself "It wasn't really THAT bad. Sure I was lacking in energy, and spent most of my time in seclusion, and was scarred to death of food. But other then that there wasn't all that much to hate about it". But there IS. I wanted to be able to go back and read the nitty gritty, painful, disgusting details of my past life and remember clearly why I didn't want to go back there. At the same time, I needed to be strong enough to be sure it would give me a shock treatment without triggering me.
Well today was that day. I logged in and read a few of the posts from around this time last year. I would be lying if I said they didn't trigger me a little. But they were a brutal eye opener to just how miserable and pointless my life with an eating disorder was. It made me wonder how I could ever think I was "happy" living like that in the first place. The truth in my case was that I was miserable, but I felt that recovery meant even more misery and pain. I am so thankful I am proving every day that that is wrong.
I am going to put a few posts from my blog here. They will probably be triggering for some people, so if you are easily triggered please don't read on. But if you want a look at the painful reality of living with an ED, this is the truth in it's truest, rawest form.
Why is it that the things that make me happy also are the things that make me sad?
I think the title of the post says it all. I just don't understand why that has to be. It's not fair, really. What makes me happy? Sitting in the kitchen on a cold wintry day, drinking a cup of tea, talking with friends and eating warm cookies used to make me happy. Not so anymore. Those cookies started a binge session that just finished recently. Ugh, not fair. Sleeping made me happy, now it's an escape from reality, and when i wake up i just want to eat. My birthday used to be something i look forward to, now it's just something i dread. I feel like life's little joys have been snatched away from me, and i don't know how to find them again. And I feel like something's missing. I try to fill the void with alcohol, people and occasionally food, but it's not working. What is happy? What is fun? Some days I don't remember anymore.
The balancing act.
The more i think about it, the more i realize that my life is one, great big balancing act. Everything I do, everything I say all has to be thoroughly thought out and planned. Not one day can I just jump out of bed and be ready for the day. There are a bunch of little procedures and rituals i have to go through. Every day i need to know what I'm doing and why. I need to have my work, my eating, my work out - everything planned to a tee. Why? Because I'm balancing. There are days I try to throw all my caution to the wind and just live like i used to - spur of the moment. That resolution lasts short term, but in the long run i end up running back to my center of gravity - my plans, rituals and habits. Without them, I'm lost, out of balance, falling....
Today I'm falling, hopefully i can stop myself before i got too far.
Why do i even bother posting? Who really gives a damn? If i were reading this I would think "Why can't this little girl get a life and stop whinnying". But i know why. It's because this is my god damned life. All of this, it's who and what i am. And i can't get away from it no matter how i tried.
Threw up blood today. That's supposed to be bad, right? Well i don't care. None of my meals were watched, no one asked. I binged and purged 3 f-ing times. That's what happens when I don't plan my meals. I'm probably having a weigh in tomorrow. I know i gained, but not since the last weigh in. They'll be pissed.
I wish i could get over myself and gain weight. I wish everyone didn't have to hate me because I'm thin. I wish i could just leave all this behind and move on to live a happy life. But that's all a big pipe dream.
Why do i fight so hard to maintain my weight? Why does the thought of weighing in 1 kilo heavier terrify and depress me? Why do i want this life?
I don't know, I really don't know.
This morning i weighed in lighter then the day before, even after my whole buffet lunch. I thought i ate a lot, but i felt like everyone was looking at my plate when i was serving myself food. I would pick up food and then stop and put it back. I felt guilty with every bite. I cut up my food in little tiny pieces like those movie portrayed anorexics. I tried to purge in the bathroom. I'm so fucked up.
I am SO thankful that I am free of that life. I am free to enjoy the things that make me happy once again. I do not live by a set of rules and regulations. I can enjoy the moment and savor it to the full. Most importantly I am knowledgeable of the fact that there is so much more to life then an ED. And I am out to take advantage of all there is.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I'm here to tell you that you are not the only one. As a matter of fact “we” (as people recovering from an eating disorder) are not the only ones. I dare say that almost everyone on earth has experienced difficult and painful situations in their lives. Some people might have had it better then you, but I guarantee that a whole lot of other people had it worse.
But we can separate these types of people into two groups – the ones that let go of the past and reached out to the future, and the ones who let the past consume and affect them for the rest of their lives. Many individual belonging in the first group achieved extraordinary things during their livetimes and went on to claim a title in the halls of fame. But I dare say that no one from the second group is able to say the same, or at least not to the extent that they could have.
Has life treaded you unfairly? Think of Nelson Mandela. A man fighting for freedom from racial segregation. A noble cause by anyone's standard. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Think of that when you feel like you have “wasted” too much of your life on an ED. Mandela spent 18 years at Robben Island, a prison where racial segregation was more prevalent then ever. Were you mistreated in the past? Because of his skin color Mandela was allowed less food then white prisoners. He was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. If letters came they were often delayed or made unreadable by prison sensors.
Mandela's prison cell:
He could have allowed himself to be overcome by bitterness at such mistreatment, yet he rose to greatness. He led his party to achieve multi-racial democracy and became a president who firmly believed in and propagated reconciliation. During his lifetime he received more then 250 awards, including a Nobel Peace Prize.
You think life dealt you a rough blow because of the way you look? Tired of feeling left-out and unpopular? Do feel completely shut off from the world? Well imagine you actually were in the most literal sense of the word. You can't talk to anyone, not because no one understands you, but because you can't speak. You can't see anyone, because you are blind. You can't enjoy music, normal conversations. Your life is one dark tunnel. Hellen Keller had a life like that. In addition to her physical disabilities she had a protruding left eye (which is why all her photographs from her youth are done in profile).
Talk about feeling different and feeling ostracized and left out.
She had every “right” to lose herself in the dark tunnel of depression, but she didn't. She rose to greatness by becoming a world-famous speaker and writer. She founded the HKI organization, an organization devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is remembered for her outspoken opposition to war, and her campaigning for women's suffrage, workers' rights, and socialism.
I'm not giving these examples to minimize your struggles or the blows life has dealt you in any way. I'm simply posting them because they spoke to me. They made me realize that EVERYONE is faced with difficulties, some with seemigly insurmountable hardships. But they rise to greatness; sometimes inspite of their problems, and sometimes because of them. We have a choice to do the same. We can continue to live in the past and let it affect us, or we can let it go.
"Letting go" means different things for different people. For some it means re-establishing contact with someone who has hurt us in the past, and forgiving them. For others it means distancing themselves from situations and people who influence them in a negative way. It means letting go of someone you loved but that wasn't right for you. It means realizing that, although something horribly wrong happened to you, it's up to YOU to decide how you deal with it. Sometimes it means acknowledging that something negative has happened, instead of constanly trying to forget. Leaving the past behind is harder then it seems. But only then can the true healing begin.
Let's not let the past hold us back any more from reaching out full potential. We are all destined to change the world in our own, small way. There is so much potential inside you. Don't let your ED, the past, or anything else hold you back.
Monday, November 22, 2010
1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
It was kind of a "recovery inspired" title. The way I see it recovery is tough and painful, but it's 100% worth it. Some days you have to "smile through your tears" and keep on going even when you don't have the strength left in you. But in the end it'll all be worth it.
2. What was the last thing that you ate?
Polenta with a fried egg and some carrot sticks (simple " I don't have time to make a big elaborate meal" kind of food.)
3. What's your favourite colour?
Green or blue. I really couldn't pick a favorite between the two. Their both such awesome, soothing, rich colors.
4. What's your favourite spice/herb?
Judging by the spices I use most in my cooking they would have to be basil and garlic powder. When I run out of those spices I notice IMMEDIATELY. And fresh basil in a mozzarella, tomato salad drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic vinegar reduction is to die for :P
5. Dark or Milk Chocolate?
Milk chocolate, but I haven't had dark chocolate in a while so my tastes might have changed (mental note to self - try some dark chocolate.)
6. Where abouts in the world have you travelled? If you haven't travelled, where would you like to go?
So far I've been to: Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungry, Germany, Italy, France, Croatia and the Philippines
In the future I hope to visit Africa (anywhere but South Africa), Venice and some place in South America
7. How many languages can you speak? Name them.
English, Polish, Czech and the minimum basics of Spanish (so it really shouldn't count)
8. Cardio or strength training? Why?
Cardio!!!! I get such a high off the adrenalin it's incredible. All my problems and stress are instantly left behind and I feel a million times better afterwards.
I'm not going to tag anybody but I will ask you all what's your favorite form of exercise and why.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
There is so much I should tell you, so many things I should say. But first and foremost I want to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry for ignoring you for so long, for treating you horribly and then expecting you to perform at peak levels. I'm sorry for the days I pushed you beyond your limits, for the days you screamed at me to let you rest but I only pushed you harder. I'm sorry for all the numerous times I denied you what was rightfully yours - the fuel you need to function. I'm sorry for all the hatred, all the abuse.
Most of all I'm sorry for not seeing you as you really are - perfect and beautiful in your own way. I tried so hard to fit you into the mold of what I considered beautiful. When I looked at you in the mirror I did so with hatred and rage because you weren't what I wanted you to be. My feelings were utterly unfounded and hurtful, but I was blinded by my own vision of perfection. I was so caught up in trying to make you "better" that I didn't realize how good you already were. And for that, I am sorry.
You ARE beautiful, you are unique. I know there are some days I still question your requests. I wonder if they are valid or if you are just being greedy or glutenous. But I am slowly coming to realize that there are no unreasonable demands you make. Everything you ask me for is for the purpose of bringing you back to your original state - full of health, energy and vitality. I have no right to limit you in any way.
I understand it must be hard for you too. After being robbed of nourishment for so long you must be utterly disoriented to have it back. You don't completely trust me, and you have every reason not to. I know in times past I have given you just enough to make you believe things were back to normal, before abusing and hurting you once again. But I PROMISE with all my heart that this will not happen again. I'm tired of constantly fighting with you, constantly telling you what I think is best for you. From now on I'm going to give you what you need to function and peak performance. From now on I will no longer degrade you and tell you how much I hate you. I will learn to love and accept you for what you are, even if it differs from my vision of "perfection."
And thank you. Thank you for not letting me down, for not giving up on me. You are a wonderful vehicle that enables me to accomplish what I want to in life. Without you I would be unable to perform the simplest day to day tasks. You make me happy! I realized that for the first time today when I was running. There was none of the usual fatigue or tiredness, because I had given you the fuel you needed and you were functioning as you were intended to. I felt like I could fly! Thank you for that.
You are beautiful, unique and special and I truly believe that with all my heart. Some days my mind argues with those facts, but that is simply my ED. Ignore it please, as I do, and forgive me for all the ways I have mistreated you in the past.
I look forward to having a long, healthy relationship with you once again.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
In other random news I started a driving course. I figure it's one of the things that will come in handy some time in life, and I have a bit of free time on my hands, so I figured might as well learn. So far the theory is easy for me to remember, we'll see when I actually get in a car. I'm terrified of being one of these freaky woman drivers that everyone makes fun of. No use worrying in advance though.
Something really cool happened when I was walking home from the driving school. It was already dark (the joy's of winter) and I had to stop by a supermarket to do some grocery shopping. I'm not sure if it was the Christmas display in the supermarket, or the cold weather, but I got a sudden rush of the Christmas spirit. And I started singing. For me this is something really unusual. I haven't sung in.... maybe a year or two. But I just felt like singing carols, so I sung Christmas carols all the way home. And it felt so good. For those few moments the world and all it's problems were forgotten and I was happy.
Moments like these remind me why I'm fighting an ED. They remind me that life is beautiful and we need to savor the moments that make us smile. Life is just to short to be spent abusing yourself. So let's all try a little self-love, shall we? Let's each do something today that makes us happy. It can be something spontaneous and simple like singing while walking down the street (and looking like a complete freak to everyone that passes and loving every minute of it). It can be taking a few moments to do something that you really enjoy but that you "don't have time for". It can be treating yourself to a hot shower, a warm cup of tea or even (and your ED will HATE you for this :P) a piece of chocolate. Whatever you do, savor that feeling of happiness and let it warm you from the inside. And don't let the little problems of day to day life steal that spark away from you. Remember - La vita e bella - life is beautiful!!!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
c) the perfect breeding ground for misconceptions
In some ways I almost wish having an eating disorder was as well known as having depersonalization disorder or something of the sort. Why? Because then the people that could help you would know how and the people that didn't wouldn't try. At least they wouldn't be able to add their 2 cents worth when discussing your situation. There are people that are helpfull and supportive once they discover you have an ED, and everyone is well meaning to be sure. There are just some common misconceptions that can make recovering or even just being understood difficult.
Here are some misconceptions that I have personally been faced with:
(when I refer to eating disorders I generally mean anorexia, though I'm sure some examples could be applied to other eating disorders as well)
" If you are a recovering anorexic, as long as you're gaining weight, you're fine."
This one strikes a particular chord with me because I find myself faced with it a lot these days. And it's upsetting. Why? Well becasue it focuses on an aspect that, although important, is only really a "symptom" of having an eating disorder. I could have just as easily switched from anorexia to bulimia or a binge eating disorder. I would be gaining weight then, but still in the throes of an eating disorder. I've watched this happen to people who were in IP, and that's where it started. No one realized it though, because no ont was looking.
It hurts me when instead of asking how I'm feeling/doing in terms of recovery people ask me "How's your weight?" My weight does is not a definition of my emotional or mental well being! I want to be cared about on a deeper level then just a sheer medical one. ED's are so much more then just food and eating and I wish there was some way to help people see that.
"Only girls have eating disorders."
Bullshit! Sorry for the language, but I think the situation warrents it. Although this is not personally offensive I still think it's very wrong and hurtful. I imagine it makes the male sufferes of eating disorders feel like their some kind of freaks, because they have a "woman's illness". Anorexia is a MENTAL disorder, it is not gender spesific. There was a guy in the psych ward I was in that was constantly harrased because of this and I felt so bad for him. (To clarify in this ward there were patients with mixed mental disorders – ranging from depression to alcohol addiction to autizm). Some boys/men suffer for years because they feel too ashaimed to admit their problem to their families and ask for help. All becasue of this misconception.
"Eating disorders and just ways to lose weight. They're something like a very extreme diet"
Another misconception that makes me angry. This is not a game we play. Eating disorders are not diets. Dieting may set off an eating disorder, but it morphs into something far more complicated and far worse. It's not something we can just "stop" and eat normally. And it's NOT something you should actively strive for achieving. It's not like going on the Atkins or South Beach diet. This is something that will completely consume your life till in litteraly becomes your life. And when that isn't enough it takes what's left of your "life" away from you, because all ED's end in death.
"People develop eating disorders because they want to be thin."
Again, not true. We may have started out down the path because we wanted to lose weight, but even this is not always the case. Some suffers never want to lose weight. All they long for is that sense of control over something, or a coping/numbing mechanism. As I mentioned before even for those who start off "just wanting to lose weight" it develops into something far more complex. Personally I started extreme dieting to lose weight. But when my ED really developed was when I was faced with some very painful situations and I didn't know how to cope. Anorexia gave me the sense of control I was craving and it spiralled downhill from there.
I'm sure there are many more examples like this, but these are the ones I'm most commonly faced with. And as much as I hate to say this they do affect me. People that think like this turn ED's into some sort of a self-obsession, where you're willing to do ANYTHING for self-betterment. It's something you should just “snap out of ” and “grow up already”. But it's so much more then that. This is so hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it, but it often has to be done. Recovery without the support of the people around you is very, very hard. And in order to support your efforts they have to understand at least a little bit about your struggles. My own family has told me that I just need to “start gaining” because I look “ugly and no guy will find me attractive”. I cried after that discussion. Not because what they were saying, but because of the way they oversimplified my illness. I wanted to shout at them “ You think I would starve myself like this to look good for someone? You think I would exercise till I cry and nearly faint from exhaustion because I'm vain? You think I enjoyed watching everyone eat a delicious meal while I sit there sipping water and hoping no one will notice?” But I can't blame them, it's just a misconception. All I can do is patiently try to explain how things really are best I can, and weather they understand or choose to accept what I say is their choice. I will continue to fight my battles and celebrate my victories because I know how much effort goes into each fight. And I hope that some day they will understand and be able to celebrate with me.
What is the most hurtful/upsetting misconception regarding ED's that you've been faced with?
Monday, November 15, 2010
- freedom from the constant, oppressing all encompassing fear; the fear that I will be forced to eat something I am uncomfortable with (basically anything), fear of binging, fear of gaining weight, fear of the inner demon inside of me
- freedom to dream, to have hopes and make plans for the future (without assuming I am going to die in a few years)
- freedom to do what I like, go where I please, spend time with the people I enjoy being with and do what I love without other demands on my time (2-3 hours of exercise)
- freedom to look in the mirror and say with confidence (that I may or may not yet completely feel, but that is growing by the day) "I am beautiful because I am me, and God doesn't make junk"
- freedom to treat myself and my body well
- freedom from the self-depreciating thoughts that used to run through my head like a mantra
- strength to wake up and face another day
- strength to smile when I look in the mirror
- strength to ignore the destructive thoughts that run through my head
- strength to wait out anxiety and other negative emotions instead of using harmful coping mechanisms
- strength to fight when I feel I have already given it all I could
- strength to pick myself up when I fall, and try again
- peace in knowing I am doing the right thing
- peace in knowing that there are people around me who love and support me
- peace in acceptance with the way I am
- peace in putting the past behind me and not letting it affect the way I view/treat myself
- the hope that things will get better and easier from here on out
- hope that full recovery is possible and achievable, not just for others but for me
- hope that I can reach out and help others
- hope that I can offer to those that feel that recovery is impossible and that they are destined for a life of imprisonment and pain
- hope, that even though there are rainclouds, there is always a sun shining behind them
- fighting the thoughts that have been with me for so long they have almost become second nature
- fighting the urge to go back to the "comfort" and "security" of my old ways
- fighting some days just to get out of bed, or to take one bite
- fighting the ignorance and prejudice that people with ED's (myself included) are often treated with
- fighting, even during the days I feel it's not worth the effort
- the physical pain that often comes with eating
- the emotional pain that comes from being able to experience emotions
- the pain the comes from not having an ED to numb it for you
- the pain that comes through people judging you for what you have let yourself become
- the promise of having a normal, fulfilling life
- the promise of never being so bound in an ED again
- the promise of high self esteem and a deep respect for myself
- the promise of a future dream career
- the promise of a future family of my own
- the promise of never, ever even considering the option of relapse
- the promise of true, lasting happiness
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Unfortunately as much as I would love to say that things have been easy from that time on, they honestly haven't. Today I faced one of my biggest triggers. I'm not triggered by magazines, weight loss stories and comments half as much as I am triggered by this.
As a prelude I think I should mention that I am a very sensitive person. You won't know this when you first meet me, and you might never figure it out if you know me only as an acquaintance. But all my good friends know that I am a very caring, concerned individual. If someone close to me is in pain and hurting (physically or emotionally) it affects me in a very big way. If there is even a SLIGHT possibility that it's my fault I take the blame, and feel horribly guilty. If it's not in any way related to me I try my best to help, but usually end up feeling helpless and sad that I can't do more. Yes I realize I can't take the world's pain on my shoulders, but that's just the way I am.
So in regards to that my biggest trigger is someone in my family. They have battled with severe depression in the past, and although the worst is over, it still crops up every now and then. The way this person copes with their depression is particularly triggering for me – they don't eat for days on end and they “lash” out at anyone in their path. This is hard for me to be around because I usually assume it was my fault, that I somehow contributed to the way they were feeling or didn't do what I could to prevent it. Their hostile attitude towards everyone during this time does little to reassure me. To top it off my way of dealing with negative emotions is also to stop eating, so seeing them engage in this behavior justifies it in my mind.
Today I was faced with this person and their depression ALL DAY. Not only that, but it escalated into a very confrontational situation at lunch. ( I should also probably mention that I am an extremely non-confrontational person). I looked at the food in front of me and wanted to cry. The last thing I felt like doing was putting it in my mouth. All the tension and negative emotions in the air were just too much for me to cope with.
But then I realized that I could not change the situation by not eating. I am not responsible for the way this person acts. But I am responsible for myself. A trigger is not an excuse to give up. I cannot change the world, I cannot make the situation magically change into what I want it to be. Yes maybe this person is someone I look up to a great deal, and their behavior isn't what it should be. But is that a good enough reason for me to resort to the same methods of coping? No.
What I'm trying to say here is you are responsible for yourself. This can relate to recovery, to the way you deal with problems or the way you cope with difficult situations that cross your path. You are NOT responsible for what happens around you but you ARE responsible for the way you REACT to what happens around you. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change yourself and if you are strong enough to do so, you will be making your personal world a better place.
I've decided that I don't want to be part of the problem. I am going to be part of the solution. I am going to be strong enough to not allow things that others say and do affect me. I'm going to be the stable one in the family, the one people can lean on and share their burdens without worrying that I will crumble under them. Because I have choice – to fight or to surrender; to win or to lose. I choose to win.
(…and sorry Ana, but you lose.)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
And what am I going through right now? I'm not sure myself. I think is has to do with my weigh in yesterday. Well, not only my weigh in, but the reflection that stares back at me from my mirror every morning. I've started gaining at a rather rapid pace, and my body is changing. The weight is conglomerating around my stomach; and although this is normal and to be expected it's still hard. It's hard for me to wake up in the morning and say “Look how much nicer you look with a bit more weight on you.” I know this is a stage and that it will even out in the end. But in the back of my mind there is the worry “What if this doesn't even out?” I feel so ugly right now, like some kind of mutated alien and I just want it to stop. I want the voices, the negative emotions, to disappear. I want to feel happy I'm recovering, I want to feel positive and full of life and vigor.
I won't give up, I can't give up. But for the first time in a long time I feel weak. I feel like someone just knocked the wind out of me, and I'm struggling to breathe. Now every bite I take is accompanied by my ED's voice shouting at how it's making me FAT. I'm tempted to skip meals, to downsize my portions, to placate the voice in my head.
I WILL not do any of these things, because it's not worth it. They will only temporarily make me happy, and then I will feel the need to do more, to restrict more and ultimately to hurt myself more. I DO NOT need to listen to the voice in my head. I just need to wait them out till they pass.
I just need some support right now. I need someone to tell me that this will pass, that it won't be this way forever. I need someone to remind me that I'm doing the right thing, and I need to keep doing the right thing.
I'm sorry for the whiny tone of this post. I hope tomorrow will be a better day, that the voices will fade and I will be happy again. Tomorrow is a new day and with it comes a promise of new and better things.
I will be strong. I will hold on just a little bit longer, because I believe. I believe that there is a better way to live. I believe the pain and discomfort I feel is temporary and that it will pass. And I believe that I can overcome this ED. And I believe I will never regret my choice to do so.
This song is giving me strength right now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8ez6dGao8
Please keep me in your thoughts, and cross your fingers I will get through this.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I'm happy to say that now things are so much different. Starting this recovery journey I still controlled my body very carefully with set portions and carefully counted calories. I would NEVER allow myself to eat any more then I had "planned" for the day. No changes or substitutes were acceptable either. On the reverse side I would sometimes force myself to eat, even though I knew that a certain food would make me ill. I know in re-feeding feeling overfull is "par for the course", but occasionally I would take this to the extreme.
Then came the day I discovered the idea of intuitive eating. It came about as a post on someones recovery blog. Slowly, tentatively I stopped planning set amount and portions and listening to my hunger. I still messed up sometimes, because I would panic at my bodies reactions to food and limit my intake, or I would let myself get so busy I'd forget to eat. But as I let go of my fears one by one I discovered something wonderful. For one, my body won't overeat if I feed it properly every day and don't let myself get too hungry. I used to have a problem with this because I would eat too little throughout the day and then eat a BIG meal, which resulted in a lot of pain and guilt. I'm no longer in constant fear of that happening and it hasn't in a long time. For two, I will not gain massive amounts of weight from moderate portions of "forbidden foods". Actually I am eating a lot of previously "forbidden foods" and actually have to struggle to gain weight. Another thing I learned is that I won't "binge" on a forbidden food if I choose to eat it. It used to be a major fear of mine that once I started eating, let's say cheese, I would eat the whole block as opposed to one slice.
I'm slowly learning to trust my body to take what it needs. It's not some "evil machine" that needs to be kept under control. It's the vehicle that enables me to accomplish what I want to in life, and it's my job to take care of it properly and give it fuel. Usually what I crave is what I need, and when I suppress those cravings is when things get out of whack. The other day I ate normally, but ended up eating a larger then usual, higher fat dinner (think avocados, cheese and hummus). I was almost tempted to feel guilty, but I pushed my thoughts to the side and figured that if I had really been craving that, I must have needed it for some reason. Thinking back on the days intake I realized i had an extra small snack and had been out in the cold for a long time prior to eating. No wonder my body needed fuel! And here I was attempting to tell myself that it was unnecessary.
I guess what I'm saying here is be nice to yourself and treat your body well. Think of it as a really expensive car. You wouldn't let your car run on empty because "you don't have time to fill it up". It would stop running after a while if you did that. You wouldn't try to pour water instead of gas into it either, just because it's "cheaper". You'd totally ruin your engine that way. No, if you had an expensive car you'd treat it the best way you possibly could and keep it in pristine condition. Well your body is more priceless then any car, and more importantly it's the only one you've got. You can't just "buy a new one" if this one breaks down. So treat it well, give it what it needs; and it won't let you down.
There should be no difference in the way you treat this:
and the way you treat this:
Saturday, November 6, 2010
All of us have the fear food of all fear foods, the one thing that we just won't eat. It could even be a food we never really liked, and because it has a)no nutritional value or b) very high calorie/fat content we avoid it like the plague. Well I have a few foods like that but one of them is cheese cake. Never was a fan, but since having an ED it was the one thing I swore i would never eat again. I think the reasons are pretty obvious.
Another thing worth knowing is that I am still very controlling of my meals and times. If at all possible I like preparing my own food, and I like eating around certain times. I'm not SO rigid with the times, but I do like some form of structure to my eating schedule. And as far as preparing my own food, I don't TRUST other people to cook it in a healthy way. I know this is something I need to work on, and it is on my agenda, but since we can't tackle everything at once this is an issue that's been sort of on the "sidelines" of my recovery efforts.
Well today promised to be a normal weekend day. I woke up later then usual, made myself some oatmeal pancakes (haven't eaten pancakes in almost a year by the way, so this is quite the accomplishment :D)and relaxed for a bit. Decided that today was a good day to do some grocery shopping, so off I went. While out I get a phone call "We're planning a party for your brothers birthday, can you pick up some snacks." Automatically ED part of my brain kicks in "Uh oh, food! You will probably have to eat something you're not comfortable with, or you will be put in a awkward situation. Don't go, just say something came up and you can't come." But I refused to listen because I am sick and tired of hiding from food and social situations involving food. What kind of a wimp does that make me anyway? So I decided to go. Once I got to the house there was plenty of work to be done- games to be planned, decorations to be made, and a cake to be baked. Turns out the birthday cake was my dreaded cheesecake. At that point I really wanted to back out. Usually my family is pretty understanding about my food issues, but not always. I didn't want to ruin the party and create a scene, so I thought about making some excuse and leaving. After all, this sounded like more then I could handle. Chocolate covered cheesecake made by someone else at a time I wasn't used to eating. All my worst fears rolled into one. But I didn't back out. I decided that I was going to stay and eat the cheese cake, just to defy my ED and proe I could do it. I was worried all afternoon about it. Would I have a panic attack? Would I be flooded with such intense guilt that I couldn't stand it? What would happen?
Well the time came; we sang and cut the cake. Someone passed me a plate, I picked up a spoon and ate it. No panic, no guilt. The voices in my head were silent and I was SO HAPPY. To me this was another sign of improvement, because I could honestly say this would not have been possible just a few weeks ago. I was able to enjoy the party without feeling like an "outsider" because I had to avoid all the food. It was great.
Unfortunately right afterwards I became very nauseous. It could be because the cake was very "rich" and my body just wasn't able to handle all of the stuff in it. I managed a very bland, light dinner and felt better after a few hours. Although I'm still not a cheesecake fan and probably won't eat it much in the future, it was important that I could prove to myself that I could do it and it was nothing to be terrified of.
But then I sat down to think about my intake that day and realized that in all the hustle and bustle of the days preparations I had missed most of my snacks. I won't lie, it was partially because I was apprehensive of the whole "cake situation" so my appetite went down to zero. So I considered drinking my evening supplement, because I know my calorie intake was not enough. ED screamed in my ear "But you ate a chocolate topped cheese cake! You have no idea how many calories were in the piece you had. You don't need any more food." I struggled for a while, because deep inside there was that fear. You know, that illogical fear that you will gain 100 kgs overnight because you eat something slightly higher calorie then you're used to. But then I realized, no friggen' way was I going to let my ED steal this victory from me! If I were to skip my supplement I would be technically "restricting" to allow myself to eat a treat. And that is disordered. I would not allow my victory to be stolen. I wanted to defy my ED, and not reach a compromise with it. I know from experience you can't have a symbiotic relationship with a mental disorder. Eventually it will destroy you. So I got up, drank my supplement, and got back to my evenings activities. I KNOW I did the right thing.
I think it's just important for us to be careful that in our steps to recovery we don't take one step forward and two steps back. Don't eat a fear food and feel all proud of yourself, while going to the gym and working out harder then ever.Don't allow yourself a "rest day" and skip your meals or snacks. Don't let your ED steal your victories from you. This illness is very subtle and you can feel all proud of yourself for reaching a goal or mastering a challenge, while at the same time sabotaging your progress. This incident today made me more aware of how easy it was for something like this to happen to me, and how I need to learn to guard my victories more fiercely then ever. I don't want to live "in peace" with my ED, I want it OUT once and for all.
Friday, November 5, 2010
As I'm sure you've deduced by the title of the post I want to talk about my experience with doctors and psychologist.
To be fair I'll start off by saying that I am very skeptical when it comes to medical professionals in any field. This is for several reasons. Some of them try to play "God" and they assume they know what's wrong with you before doing a thorough examination - which leads to mistakes. Others are into the "quick fix" solution - they prescribe you antibiotics or medication that takes away the symptoms without working on the cause. Because they ARE human and as such make mistakes. And because they are influenced by the money involved in their job. The last reason is probably pretty unclear, so I'll clarify. What I mean is that they need to do their part to support themselves and the way they do that is by having people come back to them. This sounds horrible, and I don't want to generalize and say that all doctors do this, but some do. In a way it's understandable - if they were to provide the perfect cure to most illnesses first time around they would be out of a job. In any case that's my stance on doctors.
I've had a number of questionable experiences with doctors in the past. When I was put into a hospital at the beginning of this year I was lucky enough to get possibly the best psychiatrist on the staff. He was good, but the faculty he worked at wasn't. Oh I have traumatic tales to tell about that faculty - the low quality of services they offered, the ignorance of ED's and treatment methods, the negative ways I was affected by the "treatment" and atmosphere - but I'll save that for another post.
Now I'm seeing a doctor that I'm not sure is qualified to handle my situation. From what I'm gathering she has never treated a patient with an ED before. Our relationship is also unique because she is my aunts best friend. So she has a less professional approach to my situation then she should in a lot of cases. I haven't spoken to her personally in months, because she asks my aunt about me and relies on her information. To complicate the situation let's just say my aunt and I don't have a close relationship. This doctor referred me to a psychiatrist, who turned out to be the worst psychiatrist I've met. I had a 20 minute time slot because there were a line of people outside waiting to see him. He asked questions but didn't listen to the answers, he cut me off when I tried to talk told me that his job was just to give me a prescription for medication, the rest I should cover with my psychologist. Let's just say I never saw him again.
Now my doctor is recommending IP. The funny thing isn't she doesn't know I've gained weight, she hasn't spoken to my psychologist (they work at the same faculty) and she hasn't spoken to me. But she has spoken to my aunt and told her to try to convince me because it would be "good for me". Right now I feel like I can't trust my doctor and her advice, because of all of the mentioned above factors. Unfortunately my family puts their unwavering trust in her, and are all pushing me to act on her advice. I am trying to schedule and appointment just to TALK to her and get some things straightened out between us. But I'm still unsure if she is the person I should be relying on to help me right now. It's so complicated :(
On the other hand my psychologist is the first one I've met that I feel truly comfortable with. She doesn't focus so much on the "anorexic" label and she does on the factors that will help me overcome this ED. This is important for me, as when I am constantly labeled as "anorexic" I feel more compelled to engage in behavior that such a title constitutes. On the other hand when I focus on all the other areas of my life I do much better. She understands that. Besides for the first time in my life I feel like I can trust her as a medical professional, I feel like she cares about ME as an individual. And she is my main support right now. If I were to put into IP (which she believes is unnecessary and even detrimental) I would lose one of the most helpful people I know.
I think it's important to have a good support system when overcoming an ED - one you can feel comfortable with and trust. Maybe I'm too cynical and distrustful of medical professionals. On the one hand I feel like it's good for me. While I was in the hospital I was forced to totally rely on the medical professionals there. I wasn't forced to fight on my own at all. So I never recovered in mind at all. Now each step I take, I choose my battles and celebrate my victories. I know as a fact I am stronger now then I was then.
Do you think it's really wrong that I rely more on myself then the medical system? What are your experiences with doctors and psychologists?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
So here's what I've managed to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time:
- up my calorie intake to the point where I'm actually gaining weight
- introduce more balance into my diet (i noticed that before fruits and veggie were definitely a predominant group)
- conquer several fear foods- almonds, cheese, pizza, pasta, protein shakes (I'm still not 100% comfortable with some of these foods, but I can eat them without having major panic attacks and the like)
- introducing more variety into my diet
- being more in tune with my emotions
The calorie upping was a big one for me, as before i was so rigedly stuck on a certain number that I wouldn't even THINK about crossing it, even by just 10 calories. Now I just keep general estimates and not a detailed count. If I go over or under it's not the end of the world for me.
Here's my dilemma. In my quest to eat a balanced diet and include all the food groups in proper amounts I find myself almost too food conscious some days. I worry about weather I'm meeting this or that limit. I do eat MUCH more balanced then I did, and that's a definite plus. But in order to keep my energy intake at a number I can gain weight from I count calories. As I said, it's usually a very general estimate and I don't stress much about it. But is that counter-productive? I'm hoping once I get into the "gaining groove" I won't have to worry about it as much and will more or less be able to eat without needing to count the calories. I have mixed feelings on this. Any advice?
I also want to celebrate a little victory I had today. I was wondering what to have for lunch and I decided I wanted a mushroom omelet. Then I thought about how delightful it would be with a bit of cheese. So I put that thought into action (cheese used to be a very firm part of my "I will never eat this again" list). Out of habit I cracked in 1 egg and 1 egg white. Then I looked at the leftover egg yoke and thought to myself "Why am I trashing this? Isn't it wasteful?" The answer came in a flash "Wasted calories. Unneeded fat." I immediately knew where those answers came from. It was that dark little corner in my mind that still feverishly clings to some old habits and mentalities. And it was time to challenge those thoughts. So before I could change my mind I quickly whipped in that extra egg yoke and enjoyed a delicious and very filling omelet. I waited for the wave of guilt, but nothing came. All I could think of was the fact that this was the best omelet I've had in a long time. It was a good reminder to me that I don't need to fear breaking these habits or mindsets, it's good for me to set challenges for myself so I can keep moving forward -even little day to day challenges like this.
I do have some goals in regards to my eating that I want to reach. And since I seem to be extra motivated of late now is as good a time as any to start heading in the right direction.
- Have heartier breakfasts. I am ALWAYS hungry in the morning, even after breakfast and snack, and usually end up famished by lunch. Time to practice some intuitive eating and satisfy my hunger.
- Take time to enjoy my food. Recently I am in such a hustle that I hardly take the time to enjoy what I eat. It's more of a chore, something that I HAVE to do. I think that although food is an essential part of life it can and should also be enjoyable. I just need to learn to stop and enjoy it.
- Add more healthy fats into my diet.
- Not restrict after a weigh in (this happened last week). I didn't really restrict per se, I just didn't add my supplements, but I guess that's basically the same thing.
Well that's all for now. Tomorrow I'm seeing my psychologist and getting weighed. Fingers crossed that all goes well.
Take care all!
Monday, November 1, 2010
I've had a few rough days this past week, but I've found that the best way to deal with negative emotions and feelings is to take a moment to stop and appreciate all that I do have. As one of my friends says to me all the time: "There is beauty in everything, you just need to stop long enough to find it." Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives, be it problems at home, stresses at work or school, anxiety provoking incidents, that we forget all the beautiful things that surround us. So here is a short list of the simple things in my life that make me happy:
Coffee. It's one of life's simple joys. Drinking coffee in the morning is a ritual that I absolutely love. It's not just about the taste or the caffine. It's about having that moment to sit down and let everything else pass you by while you enjoy the moment.
Books. I love books. I regard reading as almost a sacred ritual. I love hiding myself in a quiet corner and losing myself in a different world for hours. It's such a simple activity, yet it relaxes me better then a full day at the spa (I'm assuming, since I've never actually spent a full day at a spa)
Sleep. I'm not much of a sleeper, so I usually end up staying up late in the evening and waking up early in the morning. So I really savor the times I can take a nice nap during the day, or sleep that extra hour in the morning. I love my warm bed, my million pillows (I sleep with a lot of pillows :p)and just drifting away....
Oatmeal. Another ritual thing, but I love eating warm oatmeal in the morning while sipping my coffee. It's filling, easy for me to digest - not to mention yummy and nutritious. Makes my mornings all that much more enjoyable.
Walking. I never thought I'd say this, as usually I'm one for more vigorous types of exercise. But walking in the sunshine on a autumn day, watching the leaves fall down, clearing my mind; without having anywhere in particular to go or any set agenda; is really a highlight of my day
This list could go on and on, but I think it would get boring for all of you to read.
Actually I started writing this post with only these few things in mind, but as I started writing I thought of more and more. There are things that are difficult and unpleasant. That's just life, people all over the world have problems. But I have a choice. At the start of every day I can choose to focus on the problems and difficulties, or I can enjoy the moment and all the little things that make me happy. Today I choose to do the latter, and I hope I will make that choice more often from now on.
If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get. ~Frank A. Clark
Do you have any formulas for brightening up a difficult day? What are some of lives simple joys that make your life all that much happier?