Monday, February 7, 2011

When you're near the top... there's a long way to fall

I think I've reached the point in my recovery where the worst is over. The "chatterbox" (sorry for stealing your phrase Katy, but it's such a good description) is quiet for the most part, and I am free to live my life. Old habits die hard, but there is none of old mental struggle, the obsessing over every calorie in every bite of food. I have my moments where things are worse, where old thoughts slowly seep back into my mind. But for the most part it's better then it's ever been

The problem is that when you're near the top, you're a long way from the bottom. And when you fall you fall hard. Today I fell and there was a point I wondered if I would be strong enough to get back up.

It started this morning when I woke up this morning ravenous and decided to brake out of my breakfast routine and ate some cereal. I've had cereal for breakfast before, that wasn't the big deal. What bothered me is that since I was extra hungry I just dumped unmeasured portions of cereal into my bowl, and after eating half of it went back and added some more. When I was finished I was full, not overstuffed, just full. But the chatterbox started up "Oh my God! You've eaten far too much this morning. And what were you thinking not measuring your cereal, you could have lived off a lot less." on and on it went. I did my best to ignore it and push my thoughts aside. Still, come snack time I skimped on my portion a bit. The truth is although my breakfast held me over better then I thought it would, I partly really didn't WANT to eat any more food.
Then came the breaking point in my morning. I looked in the mirror and I looked SO FAT and BLOATED. I have a delicate digestive system, so bloating is a pretty common occurrence for me. But I've never had it happen in the morning. That, combined with my already spiraling thoughts sent me over the edge. I just couldn't get a moments peace, I couldn't focus on doing anything productive. All I could do was try to fight off those thoughts that were flooding in. I kept repeating that these feeling were just feeling and they would pass, like a mantra. Unfortunately this didn't help much. Then I had a confrontation with someone I was close to and I totally freaked out. I started exercising, just to have something to do, to get a moment of peace. Lunch rolled around and I felt at a loss. What should I do? I ate, but every mouthful was a struggle. I didn't restrict, although once again my mind was screaming at me to do so. After that I felt so low, all I could do was lie down. I wanted to cry, but even tears wouldn't come. I felt so overwhelmingly full, but this was only the mental fullness that we all know far too well. My head was swimming and I felt like I was drowning but there was something weighing me down that prevented to from going up to catch a breath of air. I hit bottom and I hit it hard.

I became resentful at the progress I had made in recovery. I wished that I still believed that starving myself would solve all my problems. I wish I didn't know that restricting or purging only makes me feel worse in the long run; and was more unaware of the detrimental medical consequences of these action. Then I could just "cope" with what I was feeling, instead of having to sit with these emotions. A part of me longed for the simplicity of an eating disordered life. Because let's face it, all my life revolved around was not eating and burning off what I did eat. Those are pretty simple goals right there. And reaching them did give a certain sense of satisfaction, it gave me some sense of purpose. More importantly it kept my mind off the other important things in my life. Nothing else had first place, my life was dictated by a strict set of rules and regulations. And it made me feel safe, because I knew what to expect. Every day was like every other day - carefully planned and calculated; the element of "surprise" was virtually none existent. All in a panicked effort to avoid moments like these, moments when I feel there's no point in fighting anymore, that there's more of the ugly then the beautiful in the world and that my existence is simply meaningless.

I remembered the countless times I had told others to "hold on" and that the "brightest hour is just before dawn". I had been doing so well for so long that I had all put forgotten just how hard holding on can be. I had been walking in the light for so long I had forgotten how disabilititated and disorienting the darkness is. In that moment I didn't know what was the right thing to do. Quite frankly I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to make it all stop - all the dark thoughts, the self hatred, the depression. I wanted it all to vanish like a bad dream.

I had to go out to town on some business, so I dragged myself off of the couch and set off. I know from experience that in times like these I need to be out of my familiar surroundings and around people. Thankfully once I got back home I felt better. My stomach was just not feeling up to a snack, but thankfully I was able to get dinner down. This evening I need to tackle the mountain of to-do's I still have left over from this morning, and avoid the mirror at all costs.

I know tomorrow will be better. I know that feelings like this pass, and that chatterbox shuts up eventually. I already feel much better and I am optimistically facing tomorrow and all it will bring. I am still fighting though, and it's not easy.

But just because it isn't easy, doesn't mean it isn't worth it.

In moments like these I need to think about all the people that support me in my decision for healthy. I remember all that this horrible illness took away from me, and what my life was like with it. I review my reasons for recovery over and over again, because I know that I made the right choice. There are people that love me and need me in their lives. My life is what I make it, and I am choosing to make it meaningful and beneficial to others. I have dreams, goals and aspirations that go far beyond the realm of eating and food. And so I am holding on.

For all those of you going through something similar right now, don't give up. We're all in this together and although we may face different battles, we are all choosing to fight them. And if we keep holding on, we'll make it though.


  1. ED might have told you that you could have lived off of much less, but that is not true. For the time being, you could have SURVIVED off of less, but who wants to spend there life merely surviving, merely existing? You want to live, and no, you couldn't have LIVED off of less. Eating less would have meant restricting and falling back into old habits to please ED. That is not living. That is going through the motions of life without actually experiencing it. It must be awful to have such a sensitive stomach. I know it makes eating even more difficult physically, but I'll bet ED uses it as en excuse to restrict.

    You didn't let him make that decision for you though, and you ate your lunch. I know what a struggle it is to force the food down without enjoying it, but do you know what? You ate the damn food and got on with your day! That's so positive, and it just goes to show how strong you really are.

    I'm sorry today was so rough for you. The 5 course meal catered by ED is enough to leave anyone mentally STUFFED. But you are right: tomorrow is a new day. Nothing lasts forever; this too shall pass.

  2. You are absolutely right!!! We all have to fight our battles, the good thing is that we are not alone! :) love you! xxx

  3. Like you say, the trouble with getting so far into recovery is that you are so used to feeling positive and upbeat that when you get a day where you feel awful and the "chatterbox" is loud, it feels even worse because you are not used to it! [Don't worry you can use the term "chatterbox" ;)]

    It sounds like you did the right thing on a day like this. Often times, I have to get out of the house just so that I can be around different people and different views.

    Even though these kinds of days are awful, we learn from them and we come out the other side so much stronger than we thought we could ever be.

    I had a week like this last week. It was difficult but I powered on through because I knew that it could only get better. And it did :)

    So proud of you for holding on!


  4. Even though it was a struggle, you did the right things and you should be so proud of yourself.
    We're all here for you. You're right - this is an amazing community of support!

  5. Hello again! I commented on your "Your Do It" post, introducing myself as a longtime reader who just started her own blog. I can totally relate to fear about unmeasured amounts of food, especially at breakfast. First of all, it's amazing that you can switch up your breakfast routine at all without anxiety! While my breakfast of oatmeal with assorted fruits and nuts thrown in is my most substantial meal (and quite healthy, at all) meal of the day, I have not yet been able to switch to anything else. I feel as if nothing else will be as fulfilling (mentally) and filling (physically).

    I don't use measuring cups for most things, but for my oatmeal I always make sure to measure out half a portion. I try to throw in an extra spoonfuls, but I can't seem to keep myself from spooning some of the oatmeal back into the container. :-/ So go you for re-filling your cereal bowl without measuring!!! As long as you you're not feeling stuffed and like you've overeaten, then you know you've eaten the right amount for your body :)

  6. Beautiful post, L! This is so, so true for all of us in recovery. I admire your strength and determination for pulling yourself together and getting back on track. You deserve a lot of credit - it isn't easy to do.

    You are so strong. Keep fighting. (And winning!)


  7. I know exactly what you mean about being at that point in recovery where it seems like you're gonna slip off to one side or the other. It's like, where do I go from here? Ya know?
    I am there right now, too.
    Part of me also wishes I could just go back to ED. That I didn't know how horrible it is for me: physically, mentally, emotionally.
    But I DO know. And I AM happier without it.
    We have to go through this uncomfortable stage, though, in order to reach a normal state of being, one where we're happy WITHOUT counting calories or freaking out over measuring things. I can't wait to get there.
    I hope that this week goes well for you!
    You are doing so great; just keep talking back to that chatterbox!
    <3 Haley