Saturday, 31 January 2009
K, I have more to say than I did yesterday (haha).
One of the issues I struggle with (as I'm sure most people with eating disorders do!) is separating feelings from food. I think most people use food to a certain extent for purposes other than just "I'm hungry- I'll eat". All kinds of factors come into play- special occasions, holidays, vacations, feeling "under the weather", happy, sad...whatever. Food is a huge part of everyday life and it's NORMAL to eat more some days, less on others. Ice cream when you watch a movie, take-out when you don't feel like cooking.
Somewhere along the line, I started to see the line as a little too blurry- it became impossible to separate how I felt with what I would/wouldn't eat. Through recovery, I'm starting to realise that I need to completely separate my eating schedule from how I'm feeling. I CAN'T skip a meal or eat a bit less because I am upset/angry/tired/it's a Thursday/it's raining. I need to separate LIFE from eating because I have such a hard time justifying eating to begin wit, that it becomes a never-ending spiral if I use every.little.detail of my life to rationalise "cutting back". I need to follow my meal plan regardless of what is going on around me. I need to eat according to a schedule right now because I'm not in touch with what I want/need right now. I need to set aside any thoughts/feelings I am having when it comes to a mealtime and sit down and EAT. No delaying, putting it off, waiting till the later that never comes...dinner time is dinner time. No ifs, no buts, no NOTHING.
There is "food" and there is "mood- NO SUCH THING AS "FMOOD"!
Have a great weekend gals (and guys? any guys out there reading?)
Friday, 30 January 2009
I used to listen to the radio each morning, and the presenter would always say, "happy damn Friday!"- started my day with a smile.
Anyway, I don't have a lot to say right now except that I woke up in a really good mood. I am amazed at how much happier I feel when I have energy. I've changed things up a bit with my food lately- inspired by blogs have been adding nuts and peanut butter. I don't know if that is why, but I feel SO much better physically. Full of energy, am sleeping better, not so cold, better concentration. It's really rather cool. Even if I do get weird looks putting peanut butter in my oatmeal (apparently not the norm here in Scotland- haha!) I'll take peanut butter oatmeal over deep-fried haggis for now. Especially at breakfast.
Have a great weekend everyone- and PLEASE, if you are reading, just leave a comment to say hi... I don't know if anyone reads this!
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
My thoughts are going a hundred miles per hour- I hate sounding all dramatic, but I can literally feel poisoned arrows of negativity flying at me. I'm shaking, my heart is pounding. My mom is going away on Friday for 2 weeks- I've been looking forward to having my own space, just having some quiet time. It suddenly dawned on me this evening that I haven't been by myself for more than a few hours since my suicide attempt in November.
This all started spiralling this morning when I stopped in the grocery store to pick up a couple of things and my mind drifted to the weeks ahead and what I will do for meals. I prepare my own foods right now and usually eat by myself anyway so there isn't really any change, but my mind went blank and I couldn't remember what I usually eat, what I like, what I would need to buy. I wandered up and down the aisles looking at the possibilities- vaguely remembering stuff I have tried, stuff I was eating this time last year, but the last few months? Completely blank in my mind. I spent over an hour in the store before rushing home, panicking. I've been trying all afternoon to literally *push* the thoughts out of my brain. I had a shower, heated up leftovers from yesterday for dinner, caught up on blogs. My mom called on her way to meet friends- I didn't want to SAY I am worried. I want her to enjoy her vacation without worrying about me, but it all spilled out and ended up with me crying and rambling on for 15 minutes before saying I had to go and hanging up.
Another suicide attempt is the last thing on my mind right now. I'm not thinking about food in a "what can I cut out?" way, just a, "what the hell do I EAT?" way. Cooking causes me so much anxiety, prepackaged foods cause me anxiety, spending money on food causes me anxiety, figuring out what I like/want/am comfortable with causes anxiety. Basically if it's related to me eating, I get anxious. I'm fighting it and am 99% sure I'll feel better tomorrow after a decent night's sleep...it really is a matter or riding out the storm and remembering that "this too shall pass". Accepting the thoughts without feeling the need to act on them. I don't NEED to worry about next week's dinners right now. I don't need to buy food right now. I don't need to do ANYTHING right now except relax, crash out and watch TV.
And of course, breathe.
What has this got to do with eating disorders, you ask? Well, it kind of got me thinking about the beliefs I hold, that I am sure other sufferers hold, that WE believe to be true, and if just one trusted person came along and said, "hey... you know that's not exactly accurate" then would our beliefs be dismissed? A little simplistic, perhaps- our beliefs aren't necessarily based on evidence. In fact, I'm willing to bet that they are, for the most part, belief systems built over years on an array of emotions and the way in which we interpret the world/events around us, but NOT based on scientific evidence. If they were scientific, it would be as simple as, "okay- I'm now at such-and-such a weight, I'll now need XXX to maintain this healthy weight", no strings attached. That doesn't work in the case of eating disorders.
So, where do we find this trusted person to challenge our thoughts and beliefs? Maybe initially, a family member, a friend, a therapist, a religious leader. But at some point, we need to find it in ourselves. Deep down, in our cores, we KNOW what is best for us. That inner voice that has been ignored and shot down for all these years- it's still there. Look for it, nurture it, and most importantly- separate it from the eating disorder's voice, and listen to it.
Follow your heart...
Have a good day guys!
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
While you are at it, can you predict Saturday night's lottery numbers? Perhaps the weather for tomorrow? Can you tell me what the score for the game on Sunday will be?
What's that? A "no"? You can't predict the future? Oh, I get it. You can only measure ME. My worth, my value, my place in this world. You can only tell me the stuff I can figure out myself or with the help from my friends and family.
Yes, yes, I hear what you are saying. I need to know, every day, the second I wake up, what you have to say about the day ahead. How you see it panning out. I need your flashing number embedded in my brain as I go about my day. Or do I?
Why do we give so much power to something so worthless? Sure, scales can be helpful. I can't bake muffins without them. They can measure, in a limited capacity, health. But not really. They don't tell you if you have lost 5lbs of water weight or if someone yanked out your spleen during the night. Just that there is a 5lb difference. They can't tell me if my heart and kidneys have grown stronger or if that 2lb difference is due to the soda I just drank. They are really very limited indeed. And yet, every.damn.morning, I stand tenderly on the surface. Scared of what it will tell me, scared of how the information will be interpreted in my head, scared of the shape my day will take if the number is "wrong" (note to self: it's always wrong, because there IS no "right").
Heh. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is a scale-free day. I'm not going to abandon you forever, but I'm going to try a day without your input. No, I won't magically balloon up in one day without your shadow cast over me for one day. The world won't end, my day won't be chaotic and crazy and out of control. I'll be exactly the same, just with a little more peace of mind.
Sunday, 25 January 2009
ED: you are eating too much, not exercising enough- once mom goes away next week, it's the perfect opportunity to restrict
ED: there is NO point in eating right now- you don't "need" energy to go to a 2 hour class each week...who CARES if you drop weight, get sick? It doesn't MATTER anymore
Me: good point...
ED: *insert thousands upon thousands of food ideas/"meal" ideas*
Me: K, I'll go get some coffee then go to the store then sort something...
ED: NO. You'll do the FULL walk that you did last Sunday, then throw away all the food you have, THEN you will go home and fill another notepad with the new plan
Me: okay...but first...
ED: NO. Do it NOW. It's 7am- you have time to walk until the store opens at 10, then the house will be empty and you can go. *insert millions of racing thoughts about food/weight/calories*
Me: WAIT. Who the HELL are you to be telling me what to do? Maybe I am NOT doing amazing and wonderful things right now, and maybe I don't have an immediate plan to move back to New York, but it's an option IN THE FUTURE if I lay the foundations NOW
ED: listen up bitch. There is NOTHING for you. New York will never be an option- you'll never get a job, never KEEP a job. ALL that you have and will EVER have is me
ME: and where exactly is that going to get me? back in hospital? losing more friends? YOU said you would make me happy, give me life meaning. I literally have NOTHING else to lose- why would I listen to you NOW when you keep feeding me bull****?
ED: because you know I am right. You don't need friends, don't need family, don't need New York and most definitely do NOT need to be healthy...your options are 1) be fat and miserable, or 2) be absorbed with my plan and not CARE about friends/family/life
ME: or, 3) keep doing as my therapist suggests, get back on my feet and move back to New York... I HAVE a job offer, have friends and I am SO happy there. I'm not going to let you destroy the possibilities for me
ED: yes you will...cause you always do. You know you aren't like the others that fight back and WIN. You'll never win because you know as well as I do, you were never like them to begin with. You NEED me.
Me: I need SOMETHING, but it certainly isn't you. just because I haven't beaten you yet, doesn't mean I never WILL. I'm not "different" to people who have recovered- the only difference is that I am still listening to you
ED: because you know I am right
Me: I have been listening to you because you kept making promises that you have NEVER kept and I'm not listening anymore
ED: you need me- you KNOW this. You'll never HAVE this fantasy life you build up in your head. You are a f***-up and you aren't even good at following my orders
Me: I have done EVERYTHING you have suggested and it's gotten me NOWHERE. I have never been so unhappy, never had so little in my life as I have had when I have been following your lead
ED: well here's the new plan...
Me: BITE ME, B****
And so I went home, baked my felafel and ate my lunch. And a snack. And dinner.
Saturday, 17 January 2009
As the title of my blog suggests, and as I explained in my introductory post, I was very into dancing at one point. I started when I was 20- initially to accompany a friend who was too shy to go herself, and I fell in love. Over the few years that followed, my passion grew and I attended more and more classes. It was hard to define what was healthy for *me*- it gave me a reason to nourish my body, maintain some semblance of "health" and let me see my body in a new light (in terms of what it was capable of, as opposed to merely what it looked like). There were definitely periods when it was more an anorexia-driven compulsion- I would "let" myself eat if I danced. I worked with my treatment team to try to keep up with dancing as it was the first "hobby" I had had...double-edged sword and they also had a hard time figuring out when it was a good idea for me to dance, and when it wasn't.
I sustained a few injuries when I relapsed pretty badly in 2006. My muscles weren't strong enough to support my bones, and the classes became too exhausting and definitely weren't for fun anymore. I pretty much stopped dancing completely as my health declined. I don't know if NOT dancing made things worse for me, but I was too depressed/deep in anorexia to feed the creative part of me that loved dancing so much.
Since then, my health has been up and down. I've taken a few classes as I've moved around, but never 1) found a studio/class that I really enjoyed, and 2) never managed to find that love of dancing that was once there.
(I am rambling, but am getting to my point!)
Anyway, about 2 years ago I stumbled across a food blog. For those of you not familiar with them, there are bloggers out there who show photos/post recipes of what they eat. The first one I found was a registered dietitian and this blog was part of her job. It FASCINATED me to see what "normal" people eat. Part of this is, no doubt, my obsession with food/nutrition. The other part is definitely sheer curiosity of how someone without an eating disorder fuels their body whilst going about living their life. Over time, these blogs have grown more and more widespread and my obsession has grown. They have been real eye-openers to read- I've spent so much time obsessing over my own food intake, or in hospital on "prescribed" diets that I really had no concept of what is normal in a world outwith my anorexic bubble. I now have about 40 blogs bookmarked, over half of which I read daily. I know the ins and outs of their every day lives. I know about the "barney butter" obsessions, the oatmeal creations, the holiday eats, the family occasions. It has helped me to widen my food choices, try new things- I do THINK about these blogs when I am making my meals/snacks and I do add/change/try ideas I would never have the courage to do without knowing there was someone out there doing the same thing.
A common theme on the majority of these blogs is exercise. I generally skim over the working out parts- I don't belong to a gym, I've never gone running and I don't think I could even identify an elliptical machine in a line up :P It wasn't until recently that I noticed quite how much exercise these people do, and quite how often. Working out for 2 hours a day? Running 7-10 miles a day? Woah. I don't know anyone in "real" life who does this. I get chastised for my long power-walks, but these people get admiration (so they should- hell, I can't lift 30lb weights and do 3 spinning classes in a day!)
But now I am wondering what is normal after all, and I am really confused. Does everyone do this much exercise? Do these bloggers eat the amounts they do ONLY because they exercise, or does their love of exercise fuel their desire to be healthy? Do they enjoy it? Do they even consider whether or not they enjoy it?..
I know if I joined a gym, I would do what I always do and give it 110%, setting crazy goals for myself and either giving up completely too soon to achieve them, or run myself into the ground (literally) and relapsing.
How do these people manage eating, exercise and their jobs/work/relaxation stuff on top of everything else? How do they keep it all balanced?
Or, is it not balanced/"normal" at all?..
Thursday, 15 January 2009
"set shifting": the ability to move back and forth between tasks,
operations, or mental sets, which is a function primarily linked to the
I was talking to my therapist on Tuesday about the difficulty I have breaking out of patterns. How I eat the same foods every day because I can't seem to comprehend the availability of other options. How I go for the same walks each day because a different route feels too complex to consider as an option. How this course I have started ('philosophy of religion' for those who asked!) is throwing up many challenges, aside from the workload itself, in terms of challenging my rituals, disturbing my routine, etc. She explained to me the link between set-shifting and anorexia which results in a sort of tunnel-vision way of living. She explained that *this* is why I get so stuck in routines and patterns- it's something which ANYONE struggles with at low weights/in states of starvation, but she said the research shows that people with anorexia have always had this, and continue to do so even after weight restoration.
It's not necessarily a BAD thing. It means a lot of drive, an ability to really focus on the task at hand- hell, if you are doing a PHD, the ability to focus 100% would work wonders. Problem I am dealing with is adapting to real-life, sans PHD (!). Looking back, it has come and gone in waves. It is definitely worse when I am deep in anorexic behaviours. The inability to shift into another mode drives the behaviour, the behaviour itself fuels the fire.
We talked about this in some depth as I tried to figure out a way to break out of the tunnel-vision, see more options and make more CHOICES rather than repeating the same things because I don't *see* any other choices to choose between. She said I can't reprogram the way my brain works, but what I CAN do is recognise what is going on, step back and look at the situation from an outsiders perspective ("what would someone else do right now?")
I've surprised myself by actually managing to do this since our session. Not in huge measures, but definitely moving in the right direction. It sounds small and stupid, but I'm actually really proud of myself for the choices I have been making with food/meals since Tuesday. Talking to my therapist, and for the first time ever, actually saying out loud *exactly* what was going on in my head without worrying about being judged/punished has really enabled me to GET advice and USE the advice.
Wow. Sounds so obvious now- that's why professionals are there, right?.. Who would have thought I might actually BENEFIT from treatment?.. (kidding- kind of...this current therapist and I have had an on/off relationship for a few years and I've not quite trusted her until recently so not been able to open up completely, and other therapists have had the "it's not about food so we won't talk about food" mentality- helpful, yes, but it's not something that can really be ignored with treatment of anorexia...)
So yeah. This is kind of new for me, and kind of exciting. It feels really good to be making some concrete changes that I can see/measure in terms of improving my situation. Often I've spent months in therapy and although I may have made some progress mentally, at the end of 6/8/12 months, nothing has REALLY changed in any way. Ha- I'm so excited that since Tuesday, I haven't eaten the same thing more than once. Wooo! (Yes, I know it's only Thursday but this is HUGE for me!)
I'm still really struggling with the feelings of guilt about not doing more/not achieving more/not saving the world right now. Nighttime is hardest- I've been watching TV to distract myself and falling asleep as the credits go up on 'Friends', but I wake up at 3-4am, tears soaking my pillow, my thoughts racing about applying for jobs/courses, moving, going back to New York.
It's hard to hold onto the thought that right here, right now, I am doing *exactly* what I need to be doing to shape my future. I can't change the past and I can't rush through the present. It's a process and there aren't the short-cuts I find myself rushing to find.
Monday, 12 January 2009
Today was the first day of my class- I was very tempted to not go. To be honest, I contemplated lying to my family and saying I had enrolled but doing something different entirely. When I left the house this morning, I wasn't sure if I would make it or if I'd just go for a walk instead. I went, and am glad I did. It was a REAL struggle to concentrate- it's pretty heavy going for what I thought would be just "interesting". I think I'll enjoy it- the challenge will be to accept my limits, accept that I don't know anything about the subject, accept that it's OKAY to not understand everything 100% straight off the bat, and most importantly of all...to accept the class at face value. It's 2 hours a week for 11 weeks. I don't need to take it to degree level, make a career out of it. I can just go to class, take in what I can, read up as much/little as I want and see if my interest and understanding grows or fades.
The other issue is the depression aspect. This challenge aside, the past week has really highlighted that there is NOTHING right now that I am looking forward to, excited about, planning for. That has been a big downfall for me in the past in terms of my eating habits- there's no concrete reason to eat, so why bother? I need to figure out how I make self-care an independent thing. NOT conditional on a job, a move, a relationship. How I do it for ME because *I* believe I am worth it.
I'm not sure how to get to that point, but I can see the patterns of struggling, restricting, placing hopes on something external, doing better, finding out that the external factor isn't what I hoped, stopping eating, giving up on the "dream" and falling back to square one. Time after time after time.
I NEED to change things. I need to find a way to give myself permission to eat, to be healthy. Without conditions on that. It's such a difficult concept to grasp, and honestly? I find it hard to fathom how other people do it. I honestly do not understand how people justify it to themselves...or how they do it automatically without questioning whether or not they "deserve" to do something so basic as EAT.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
It's the same "climbing out my skin" feelings I had when I gave up smoking a few years ago. My thoughts are racing, my heart is pounding. It feels so WRONG to be doing what I *know* I need to try. The fact that it is proving so difficult at least consolidates on some level that yes, there is a wee problem here. I'm holding tight and using the same "delaying" tactic that worked so well for me with other urges (I give myself permission to do XYZ in 10 minutes...10 minutes later, I add another 10 minutes...then 20, then 30- you get the idea).
I'm ready to call it a night (at 7:35pm- oh yes, party animal at heart) and hope that tomorrow brings renewed energy to get through the day...
Meanwhile, I'll leave you with something I stumbled upon whilst fighting the urge to click on one of my bookmarked apartment listings sites...
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Apparently that is my problem.
Always switching gears, changing direction. Ploughing forward with one thing, fumbling, giving up/burning myself into the ground, falling flat on my face and retreating into the shadows once more. I never really thought about it like this. I always viewed it as a personal failure- evidence of my own sheer inadequacy, rather than perhaps considering that I have bitten off more than I can chew ('scuse the pun!). Time after time, I plunge forward then wonder why I lose my footing- why *I* can't cope with what other people can.
I had therapy today and I think it has been the most productive as yet. I've been seeing this therapist on and off for about 3 years now. The "on and off" has been due to me coming back to Scotland for just a few months at a time before setting off on a new adventure. She's seen the ups and downs, the plunges and falls, the building up and crumbling down. Today we looked back and I saw it too. The pattern of starting slowly, then as soon as I feel slightly more stable, feeling guilty that I am not doing more/achieving more...hell, BEING more. The perfectionist in me leaps out and I run to the next thing. I can do voluntary work for 4 hours a week? Okay- after a month I'll move to a different country and work 60 hours a week. I can make a balanced breakfast without support? Okay- I'll move into my own place and take on the world.
Seriously. This seems to be how I work.
The challenge now, having recognised it, is to change this pattern. Commit to take things slow. Assess, with my therapist, how it's going. To bitch and whine about the "itchy feet". To recognise the need to strive for more (and more and more and more) without acting on it. To ignore the thoughts about other people judging me, thinking I am lazy/stupid/crazy/useless. Ignore the assumption that everyone expects me to move out and get a job and do all the things *I* feel I should be doing right now.
It's day 1 and I am already struggling. I feel guilty for flicking through facebook when I could be filling out job application forms. I feel guilty for watching TV when I should be house hunting. I feel guilty listening to my therapist and following her advice because I'm worried that I am using it as an excuse to be lazy, to do too little. I want to move out, to get a job, to just be NORMAL and it's painful to think that *this* might be the way to DO just that, in a sustainable way.
It's quite the challenge. Sounded easy in her office, but oy...just a few hours later and I'm climbing the walls.