Thursday, December 30, 2010
- eat chocolate and deserts without guilt
- not plan all my meals
- relax and spend most of the day vegging around
- party with my friends without stressing about the calories I was taking in (weather through drinks or food)
- eat even though no one else was eating because I was hungry
- go out to eat without knowing exactly what I was having ahead of time
- LET LOOSE AND BE FREE
I spent the past 2 days with my friend in town. Her apartment is what used to be my ED's worst nightmare. No "safe foods" in sight, as a matter of fact there was very little food in the house at all. She works, so she eats most of her meals out or orders in. In her apartment there's very little to do aside from watch TV and just veg out. Not much physical activity going on there. But contrary to what I expected I'm enjoying every minute of this visit. We went out last night partying and had a blast. I drank a few mixed drinks and had a great time. We stayed out till 5 in the morning dancing and living it up. After coming home we slept most of the morning, looked at some old photos and watched a few movies. Then we went out to eat and had a coffee.After that I was still hungry and since there was no food in the house I went out and bought some. Just because she wasn't eating doesn't mean I couldn't. I used to be obsessed with comparing myself with other people and always making sure I was eating less then them or at least compensating by getting a lot of physical activity. But not anymore. If I need more fuel, well I'm going to get it weather I'm active that day or not. Right now I'm gearing myself up for another evening of fun. We're going to meet up with some of her friends and hang out. It's just so nice not to have a rigid food or exercise schedule controlling every decision you make. It's so liberating to forget yourself and enjoy the moment; just let loose. I used to always be so afraid of that, because I didn't want to do something I'd later regret. But I'm learning that you only live once and sometimes it's worth it just to forget some of those self-imposed rules and live it up. I believe there needs to be moderation; I believe in eating healthy and living a good lifestyle. But if I feel like sitting around all day and catching up with a friend or eating take our once in a while I should feel free to do so. It's so incredible to think that I believed I'd never be able to enjoy these simple things ever again. I'm so happy that I was wrong and I am living life to the full and loving every minute of it.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I spent the 22-23rd travelling between countries. The trip wasn't exactly relaxing, but overall everything went well and I arrived safely.
As soon as I arrived it was time for my first challenge- lunch. It was fish oven baked in olive oil. The amount of oil was almost overwhelming for me, but I refused to think about it too much and I just ate. And amazingly enough I was ok. There were a few thoughts sure enough, but I kept myself busy most of the time doing other things and with time those passed and I was able to fully enjoy myself.
Then came Christmas Eve dinner, the thing I had been fearing most about the entire trip. But even that was surprisingly manageable. On the table we had duck, a Greek salad, a cous-cous salad, roasted green beans in olive oil and classic German red-cabbage. Although all of these foods I was pretty uncomfortable with I managed to eat a well balanced meal WITHOUT ANY GUILT. I even had a glass of wine for desert. It was really lovely.
The following days were pretty much the same - I was faced with "scary foods" and a irregular schedule. But to be honest I'm enjoying every moment of this trip so far. I thought I wouldn't be strong enough, that there would be a lot of panic attacks and awkward situations. I can proudly say that so far so good. People are pretty understanding of my desire to eat healthy and I am also learning to enjoy "treats" such as chocolate, Christmas cookies and other such holiday goodies along with the delicious food that I might not consider 100% healthy. I do worry at time and am unsure of how I will handle certain situation. But the more I stop over-thinking everything and just throw myself into the situation the better things seem to be. It's really great to be able to enjoy life without an ED controlling your every move.
At times I can't help but think back to last years Christmas where all I managed to eat was a bowl of vegetable soup. I didn't even drink anything because I was scarred of the calories. Well those days are done and over now, and it feels so wonderful. It's great to be free!!
Hopefully I can get my camera up and running so I can have some pictures for you all. In the meantime enjoy the rest of the holidays and your family and friends!
Monday, December 20, 2010
But I'm back!
So let's see, what's new with me. I've decided to go visit my friends. After a few follow-up conversations they seemed quite realistic with their expectations of me, and I know that I need to challenged myself and get out of my "safe zone". I am apprehensive and nervous, but nothing ventured nothing gained, right?
And yesterday I celebrated my birthday. Nothing HUGE happened, but I had an enjoyable day. I went Christmas shopping in the morning, baked some Christmas cookies in the afternoon and drank champagne and mulled wine in the evening while watching a relaxing movie. There are simple joys that make you just as happy as a big wild party. And it's good to remember that from time to time. Also I realized just how loved and cared about I was, because an amazing amount of people remembered my birthday. I'm terrible at remembering other's birthdays though, it's something I need to work on.
Now I'm caught up in preparations for my upcoming trip. Since I'm travelling in between countries there's travelling arrangements to take care of, not to mention packing and all the other last minute things that add up. But I will be blogging and hopefully will put up some pictures of my trip once I have them.
ED yells at me sometimes that I'm making the wrong choice, that I will end up in a place where I am miserable and unhappy the whole time, that I will gain tons of weight and feel guilty. But you know what, I'm not listening. This is my life and I'm tired of living it in the prison cell of an ED. One thing that finalized my decision to go on this trip was a question I asked myself : "If I didn't have an ED, would I go?" The answer was "Yes!!!" So what's standing in my way? Absolutely nothing. I am free and I'm off to have a great time.
Hope you all are having a wonderful, enjoyable holiday season.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This is somewhat related to my previous post in which I asked what my friends expectations of me were. And the answer was straight to the point - eat whatever we do. Unfortunately their tastes involve a lot of fast food and alcohol. And I don't know what to do.
Honestly thinking about it gave me an anxiety attack that still hasn't finished. I don't know what to do. I want to challenge my ED behaviors and go and enjoy myself, at the same time I'm not sure if I'm strong enough. In the past when I've tried to tackle something overwhelming too fast I ended up falling into a purge cycle that I desperately fought hard to break out of. Yet staying at home isn't good for me right now either.
So what is the right thing to do? I know this is something I have to find the answer to within myself but I was wondering if you have any experiences with this. Have you ever been faced with something that you were sure was impossible, but coped with it ok? On the flip side have you ever tackled too much at once with negative repercussions? I'd really appreciate hearing your experiences with this.
Thanks to everyone in advance.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
As I mentioned in a previous post I was planning on going abroad to visit some friends for New Years. I was REALLY looking forward to this. Usually I try not to anticipate things too much, because I don't like being disappointed. But I really felt like this trip would do me a world of good, because I needed a break. I needed a change of scenery. I wanted to be around my friends, to laugh and have a good time, to forget the problems that await me at home and just enjoy life.
Well, those dreams were somewhat shattered today because I was talking to one of my friends and they told me that they had been discussing my arrival amongst themselves and “they were fine with it, but they don't want someone around who doesn't eat. So...”
Ouch! After hearing that I was stunned. It was a blow below the belt to say the least. For the first few seconds I was stunned and completely caught off guard. Then I realize the implications being made in that comment:
- ED was nothing more then a “stupid diet” I should just get over with
- despite all the progress I had made I still wasn't eating because a) I don't participate in late night eating/drinking binges, b) I still have a hard time with some foods, c) I don't eat fast foods or loads of sweets
- I was not important as a person, because they would be willing to be supportive at least for a short while if I mattered enough to them
It hit me so hard I actually started to cry. I'm just so tired of having to fight with my old mindsets and then have to deal with people's misconceptions of me. I guess I've just taken for granted that everyone is as supportive and understanding as my family and most of my friends. It was shocking reminder that the people that I consider “friends ” can be so ignorant and inconsiderate. But that's life.
I decided to be honest about my limitations. I wrote them an email telling them what I did and didn't feel comfortable with and left the decision as to weather they wanted me there or not up to them. Whatever their reply is at this point I am okay with it. Although in the beginning I was very disappointed now I have accepted the situation as it is. I will find a way to enjoy the New Year where I am. It's better to be in a surrounding where you feel understood and accepted then in a place where you are constantly criticized and judged.
This afternoon I was SO tempted to restrict. I felt unloved, unwanted and like a failure. I wanted some way to numb emotions welling up inside me. But I realized that denying myself food was not a mature way of coping. What kept running through my head was something someone once told me “People only make you feel as inferior as you let them”. Just because these people don't see how far I've come, and doesn't understand the progress I've made doesn't mean I have to take it out on myself. There are going to be plenty of people in life that are going to knock me down and try to make me feel inferior. But it's up to me as to whether I allow them to affect me or not. And I am NOT going let these people knock me down. I am going to prove them wrong.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The unit I was at was actually a general psychiatric ward, which meant we had a wide range of people with various psychological issues there. One of the most typical questions we were asked by fellow patients after our name and age were "What are you here for?" And the answer to that question was always followed with "Why?".
That question (although pretty inappropriate now that I think about it) struck a chord with me, because at the time I had never stopped to think about this aspect of my illness. It was just something I HAD to do. I didn't know why, I just did. So I set out to find out why. The psychiatrists did little to help in that aspect. Later on I was told that I would probably never discover the reason because it's a complex issue so I might as well not try.
I am not advocating the fact that you should understand your illness and all the reasons behind it perfectly before you try to recover. That's not the point. I've had a specialist tell me that even HE doesn't always know the answers, because this illness is so complex and varies from person to person. But I think discovering some of the reasons that brought you to this point can be helpful in aiding recovery or preventing a relapse.
I had my first driving experience today (on snow - talk about scary). And my instructor made a comment about how petite I was (in reference to my feet not touching the pedals). Anyhow that comment made me happier then it should have, and then I started analyzing why. Why petite? Why not curvy, or womanly, or anything else? I think I figured out the answer to that question, one that is definitely in some small way tied into why this illness had such power over me.
It's hard for me to say this because I don't talk about it, but I was in an abusive relationship. Most of my closest friends don't know this, and I have a hard time telling them. I feel like they wouldn't believe me, or think I'm making a big deal out of nothing. In a way I feel responsible for letting it go on as long as it did, and even letting it happen in the first place. But it happened and it did affect a lot of things - my self esteem, body image and general happiness.
After it ended is when my ED really took off. And I think one of the reasons I craved (and still crave to a certain extent) being petite is because I wanted to be protected. I longed for someone in my life who would stand up for me; someone who would defend me. I had been so hurt that I just wanted someone to protect me. I was tired of the tough" facade I carried around. I wanted to somehow let the people around me know that I had needs, that I wasn't as strong as I pretended to be. And somehow for me the physical tied in behind the mental.
I guess I need to learn to use my voice to communicate what I'm feeling. I'll be the first to admit that this is hard for me. I don't want to be a bother, and I don't want to be seen as "weak" or "needy". What I need to realize is that I am a person just like anyone else. And people need each other. It's ok for me not to be strong 100% of the time. It's ok for me to have issues, everyone does. It doesn't make me less of a person to have needs. We all do and it's ok. It's okay to be human.
Friday, December 10, 2010
And here are the main perpetrators of my relaxing evening.
Glow wine tea (took the picture super fast, because I didn't want it to cool off)
Cozy socks (paired with my lovely fuchsia PJs - I HATE fuchsia by the way :P)
And my most favorite Christmas album (only because it takes me way back to my childhood)
I'm not going to lie and say the last few days were a walk in the park, because they weren't. But I'm fighting and I am trying my best to climb out of this dark place I found myself in. I've identified the reason for my frustration, which has translated in me wanting to go back to my ED coping mechanism. It's because I feel a lack of direction in my life, a sense of purpose. I am not exactly where I am of my own free will, a series of circumstances forced me here. Some of them were within my control, others weren't. Suffice it to say I don't feel happy living here. I feel lonely and secluded. I was thinking about my birthday and I realized I have no one but my family to celebrate it with. I do love my family a lot, but I need friends too, people I can just let my hair down and relax with. Even my psychologist tells me this. But as much as I reach out to people, it seems I can't find anyone to “click” with.
I do realize that just moping about this situation isn't going to make it any better. So I've made plans to visit some friends living abroad for New Years. That way I have something to look forward to. I am also going to make a list of goals I want to accomplish, and then divide them into what I can and can't accomplish living here. The things I can accomplish I will strive for, with a vengeance. And the rest I will put on the shelf for later, but still look for ways to realize them.
Another thing I have been lacking this year is the Christmas Cheer. Every year I long to feel the same sense of excitement and wonder I did as a kid. You know, that warm fuzzy feeling that just makes you happy. There's no way to describe it, yet I believe everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives. Usually I get at least a taste of it, a moment of happiness that I can cling to for the rest of the year. Even during the worst of my ED (last Christmas) there was Christmas Eve. But so far this year, the little spark is missing. I am (dare I say this out loud) dreading Christmas.
Let my explain why. Right now when I think about Christmas I'm not really thinking of a warm family affair, of feeling loved and “at home”. I'm thinking about the cooking, cleaning, stressful last minute shopping, relatives and all the gossip. To top it off I am feeling a little anxious about all the food involved. If it was just my family, it's a different story. But my relatives won't have the tact to not comment on my food, or constantly badger me about eating more. Actually a traditional Christmas here involves tasting 26 different dishes, and to me that's pretty intimidating. I remember actually eating so much I would make myself sick as a child, just trying to please everyone.
But I'm going of on a tangent here. The point of all this is that I realized why I was feeling so down. It's because I was thinking so much about MYSELF and the work I would have to do. Christmas is actually about giving and love. I firmly believe this.
This could partially be because of my upbringing. My parents are humanitarian aid workers and have been since I was born. We traveled from country to country, wherever they felt they could help the most. Usually us kids played at least small role in their work. Christmas was an especially “active” time for us. Almost all of my childhood memories of the holiday season involved performing or caroling for children in hospitals and orphanages, giving out donated presents for underprivileged children, or visiting old folks and letting them know that someone cared. As I grew up I still took part in these activities, although my role morphed into a more organizational one. But I was still always there to see the smiles on the children's faces, the gratefulness in the eyes of the parents who's dying child's life we had made a little better. These are things the money can never buy, and they bring a satisfaction that is unlike any other.
This was where most of my “Christmas cheer” came from. And I think I know why it's missing now. I'm so introspective at the moment I'm forgetting the whole meaning of Christmas. It sounds cliché but it my case it's true. So that is the first thing on my to-do list. This Christmas I will do some charity work. I'm already looking into what I can do, but nothing is decided yet. I'll let you know once I know for sure. But deep inside I know it's what I need to do to get my “Christmas spark” back. And to be honest I can't wait to get started.
Have you ever done charity work of any kind? If so, how does it affect you emotional well-being?
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I'm six feet from the edge
And I'm thinkin
Maybe six feet ain't so far down
Monday, December 6, 2010
Today I had an epiphany. I love that word, it sounds so high and might but what it really means in my case is that I thought of something obvious :P
I was thinking recently about all the medical professionals I've come in contact with in the past, and what our relationship/interactions were like. I came to the conclusion that they were all fairly nice people (with a few exceptions), but they didn't help me very much. In the past I took that to mean that all medical professionals are there for in ED recovery is to keep you from slipping back too far, or putting you in IP if you need it. But I came to a different conclusion today.
They didn't help me because I didn't LET them help me. Sure, some of them didn't even bother, they treated me like a “case” instead of a person. They didn't have any personal touch whatsoever and when I was around them I felt like a bother. So they offered very little and I in turn was able to accept very little from them. But there were others that offered much more and I was the one to blame for not being willing to receive it. I listened to their advice but was convinced that I knew better, and so I didn't even bother following the assignments they put out for me.
Right now the psychologist I'm seeing is a different story. I'm following more of her suggestions then I have any other professional I have come in contact with. Sure, not all of them are applicable because she has no experience in dealing with patients with EDs, so there are some things she misunderstands or doesn't tackle appropriately. On the other hand she is just a human being, and I don't expect her to be God and have a “magic solution” for my problems. What she has been able to offer me however is a different perspective on myself. She offers insight into how others see me and my situation. She gives me different exercises that help with my self-image, anxiety and other such issues.
The truth is she has helped me more then any other specialist I have come in contact with. This is not because she has the most experience, because she doesn't. I have dealt with psychiatrists that were considered the best ED specialists in the entire country and yet dealing with them didn't benefit me in any way. That's partially because I didn't allow myself to be helped. I didn't allow myself to open up and be honest with them. I refused to let down my front of “I'm in control and I have a handle on my life”. I didn't let them see the real me – the scarred, confused, unhappy girl. I didn't trust that they could help me so I didn't even let myself be helped. On the other side of the coin I wanted them to magically “heal me”, I figured (and in some twisted way this made sense to me at the time) that if they were so “good” at what they did they would somehow telepathically know what I needed and help me. So I relied on their words of assurance and determination to get me though each day. Once I stopped seeing them the “motivation” I had faded, because it was never mine own. I had to be pushed and prodded and encouraged and cheered. I gained a satisfaction of my accomplishments by their praises, not from an internal source. So once they were gone there was little left to keep me from slipping back.
Now I look back and wonder if things would have been different if I had allowed myself to be helped. Maybe I would never have relapsed. Maybe my life would be completely different by now. On the other hand perhaps nothing would have changed. I do believe that life is a school and everything that happens to us happens for a reason; to teach us something or help us to grow. And I have learned a lot through this experience; lessons that I could not have learned any other way. I have learned to celebrate my victories and get up when I fall. I have learned how much inner strength I really have. But I wonder what would have happened had I traveled down the right road the first time.
So give medical professionals a chance if you are like me – a cynical and somewhat “closed” person. On the other side of the coin if you expect them to “heal you” you're setting yourself up for failure as well. They are only humans, they can't read your mind or force you to do anything. You need to determine to fight for yourself, to try to take what they give you and use it to the best of you ability. Everyone has something to offer, we just need to choose to accept it.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
December is a wonderful time of year. Despite the snow, the cold and the throngs of Christmas shoppers a lot of great things happen - my birthday, Christmas, New Years. There's a lot going on and a lot of fun to be had.
This year I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas/birthday present. I decided that each day I would take the time to allow myself to do something I generally enjoy and savor the experience to the full. This will be "me" time, something I do EVERY day without fail and no matter what is happening around me.
If you're reading this you might be under the impression that I don't ever have any free time. This isn't true. I don't have A LOT of free time, but that's fine with me because I don't like sitting around, twiddling my thumbs and counting the seconds till the next hour.
What I am lacking in however, is undisturbed free time and permission to enjoy that time. Whenever I do something that is just for "me", that isn't work or helpful to someone else in some way, I feel guilty. I immediately start looking around for something "productive" to do.
But guess what, it's ok to be nice to yourself! It's ok to spoil yourself once in a while. You need to realize that you are important - more important then the work that you do, more important then the things you are able to accomplish with your time. For so long I struggled with the feeling that I was only appreciated and liked because of my work ethic. I would push myself so hard in a mad attempt to "earn" others friendship and love. However I'm slowly realizing that people like me who I am, and not what I do.
It's also fairly common for me to take care of others to the neglect of myself and my own needs. I purposely give up on my plans, programs, desires and needs in favor of others. While this in itself can be considered a noble and unselfish gesture, in my case it's not always so positive. I feel "unworthy" of standing up for myself and my needs. I feel like I don't "deserve" some of the things that other people do. I've come to realize this reasoning is WRONG. I am just as important as other people. And if there is something that I need, I shouldn't be afraid to let that be known.
So that's why I'm giving myself this "Christmas present" . It's so I can learn to treat myself well. It's so I can put that ugly voice in my head that tells me I am unworthy, insignificant and undeserving in it's place. I know this is the same voice that used to tell me I'm unworthy of food and rest, that I needed to push myself to the limit and beyond. And last I checked I wasn't listening to that voice any more.
This isn't to say I will become a totally self-obsessed person and refuse to give up my plans in order to help someone else. I will still do this as often as I am able. But when I am honestly not able, I will speak up and say something. This will take practice, as I am used to keeping my feelings inside. But if I want to move forward and make progress I need to accept this present to me.
So Merry Christmas L. Enjoy your present today!