Saturday, 28 February 2009
Today's been a pretty typical Saturday for me. I went for my usual walk, went to the few grocery stores I frequent, and just did the same stuff I do every day. I was eating lunch and realised that it's been a REALLY long time since I did something "fun". I don't know if my definition of what is/isn't enjoyable is somewhat skewed by my eating disorder (I would opt for grocery shopping over a movie ANY day) but then the more I thought about it, the more I saw a connection between my interests and my isolation.
I have a hard time with concentration so don't do a lot of the things I used to love- movies, reading, etc. I don't actually do much with my time at ALL except food-related activities. I think I really need to make a concerted effort to start at least trying to incorporate new things into my life in an attempt to discover what is truly enjoyable for me. I also struggle with feeling guilty for having fun when I feel like I "should" be doing something more productive/constructive with my time than *gasp* daring to have fun. Anyone else struggle with this? I guess relaxing/enjoyment isn't high on my list of priorities because there is always something that seems more pressing to be doing... Whether it's cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry, I can't seem to switch off and just CHILL for 5 minutes to watch something on Youtube, never mind spend an afternoon going shopping and drinking coffee with friends.
Dancing is out for now, and exercise is probably not the best idea at this point, but I want to know what you do to relax and enjoy yourself? All ideas welcome- I move into my new place on Monday and it's a FRESH start and not going to be bogged down with eating disordered thoughts/activities ruling my days!
Having said that, I am having a LOT of fun with my camera. Yes, so far the majority of the pictures have been of food (which I promised myself I wouldn't do), but you know what? I'm okay with it for now. I think it's a positive thing for me to be putting more effort and thought into the presentation of my meals, and I am finding that by doing so, I am spending more time appreciating my food and having fun with my camera, rather than the usual guilt and anxiety that surrounds meals.
So, today's food...
Breakfast was my beloved cinnamon coffee (just regular coffee with lots of cinnamon and a splash of milk) and more baked oatmeal. I have no idea why it gets so frothy! Anyone else's do this?
Other eats included this GREAT felafel- it's a Morrocan inspired one from one of the big grocery stores here. Highly recommend it to any UK people out there- I love sweet + savoury combinations and the dried apricots in this are delicious :)
And as for the "plan not to plan", today's snack was a cookie dough balance bar- MUCH better than yesterday's Atkins cookie dough bar (though how wrong can you really go when it's COOKIE DOUGH?!)
Aaaaand...my disclaimer: everything pictured has been eaten, not everything I have eaten has been pictured. ;)
Friday, 27 February 2009
I saw my new apartment and can now say that my excitement is overpowering any anxiety I had. The place is really cool- it has basic furniture (bed, sofa, etc) but is pretty much a big empty space so if any of you creative people have some ideas for jazzing it up and making it "homely", send them my way! I'm going to check out IKEA this weekend for throws and rugs. I can't wait until Monday!
I have been playing around more with my camera and have a couple of food pictures- I can't for the life of me figure out how to make an Amy's burrito look pretty. So tips on that would also be appreciated :)
Today's "plan not to plan" snack- an Atkins caramel cookie dough protein bar. Liked it, but definitely prefer cookie dough balance bars! I don't even know where this came from, but was in my stash so must have been bought at some point...
Dinner tonight includes this Amy's teriyaki bowl. It's only fairly recently that we have been able to get more than just a couple Amy's meals in the UK and I am really excited to keep finding more. This was really good and would recommend it, but seriously- 4 pieces of tofu? This girl needs more protein than that!
And of course, need to get my vitamins. Hollah!...
So what does everyone else have planned for the weekend?
Have a great day everyone- weekend is almost here! I am leaving soon to go see my new apartment so a bundles of nerves and excitement this morning. I'll update later!
"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart- rainer maria rilke
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer."
Thursday, 26 February 2009
I don't know why I have such high hopes for this program, or why I so desperately want to return to New York and complete the 6 months. I think that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with how slow my progress has been and want something more intensive to really propel me forward.
I've written about the difference between the two health care systems before- the high hopes of my team in the US for a full recovery (like ripping off a band-aid) and the s...l...o...w... way of working here. I am under the eating disorders team and I am giving my therapy sessions my all, but I find it really hard to hold onto much hope when the expectations seem so low. I want to be FREE from this completely- to suddenly be "okay" with food, health, life. To have a job, be living independently, to not be controlled by rules and rituals and compulsions. When I was receiving treatment in the US, I was really thrown in at the deep end. Quite a challenge for someone who hasn't been in full-time education since the age of 12 and pretty much grew up in hospital. I suddenly found myself being discharged from inpatient at a healthy weight, working at Starbucks, living by myself and taking college classes. It was weird. In a GOOD way. It gave me a taste of what life COULD be like. But in a lot of ways, it's made things so much harder for me- to have that all, and lose it all.
My team now want me to take this one class for 2 hours a week and not take on anything else (work, study, etc). We set small goals each week around socialising, food, etc. It's working for me- as in, it's sustainable. I'm not rushing into things, taking on too much only to have it crashing down around me. My team seem to have learned from my past history- so why is it so hard for me to do the same?
I guess I am just angry with myself for still being so stuck in this dysfunctional state when I know there is so much more out there, and having tasted it, want it more than ever.
I can't figure out why New York represents "health" so much for me. Or why I cling to the idea that I can only truly recover if I am in America. It doesn't make sense, certainly isn't based on evidence and is only further fueling my frustration. I have been working really hard at just accepting where I am right now- both with my recovery, and the more concrete facts of where I am living, the treatment I have available to me here and what that involves.
It's really hard for me to NOT compare myself to other people. I know I am not alone in my struggles with food and weight, but I feel so inadequate to others who somehow manage to go to school, work, etc. I don't know if I am just lazy? I don't know if I need to just somehow Nike-style "DO IT" or if for me, baby-steps are the only way. I should know by now that for whatever reason, just "doing it" doesn't quite work out. It's just painfully difficult for me to accept that *this* is how things are. Not that I won't keep working towards my goals, I'm just frustrated with how long and drawn out this all seems, and whether I am making things worse for myself. I feel like I can DO all these things- I can work, go to school, eat in a restaurant, deal with whatever stress life throws my way. But only for a very short space of time. Days, weeks, months- it doesn't matter. I just haven't been able to sustain things for any significant period of time without falling to pieces. Again and again.
Anyway... Back on topic. The outcome of the phone call was that the program doesn't think I am stable enough to return at this point for various reasons. This is just bizarre to me because my team here are perfectly happy with how I am doing/the way things are going. I WANT to try things here with moving into my apartment, carrying on with the small goals, and if TIME wasn't an issue, I'd be happy to do this and reapply for the program when I can stand up and say, "that was where I WAS, this is where I AM and I am ready to take it to the next level". BUT, I only have insurance in the US until October so it DOES feel like a "now or never" thing. Because it IS. I know that I am working towards that place where I can proudly say, "this is where I am NOW" but it doesn't feel like progress because I'm not there yet.
So in what form did that take today? I have pictures! PLEASE NOTE: this is NOT an all-inclusive list of my entire day's eats...just some of the things I ate whilst trying to listen to what I "wanted" more than selecting foods based on their nutritional profile!
A "breakfast cookie" a la ellie! Chopped and microwaved apple mixed with Branberry Muesli and Fage, and left to set in the fridge.
I'd planned to have an Amy's burrito for lunch, but last-minute executive decision resulted in a veggie burger (and yes, the bagel was as stale as it looks- am out of my usual bread and still attempting to use up food before I move on Monday!)
And as for how "plan not to plan" went, today's pick was...
As Veggiegirl would say, HOLY YUM! I love these bars- this is my favourite flavour, chocolate deluxe being a close second. I noticed a few other bloggers ate this yesterday too- great minds, people!
For those who asked about the baked oatmeal yesterday, Kath bakes hers in a round pan as far as I know, but I use a square one since our round ones aren't deep enough!
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
I am fully aware that my thinking right now is irrational. I am not acting on these thoughts- hell, there's not much I can do right at this moment. There's nothing I even want to do/have an urge to do (except write, obviously!)
I have been trying to distract myself by thinking about the human body as a whole. All the amazing things it does- some we are conscious of (thinking, feeling, etc), some we don't see/feel (cell production, osmosis, all that biology malarkey).
Did you know...
- In one day, a human sheds 10 billion skin flakes. This amounts to approximately two kilograms in a year.
- Every square inch of the human body has about 19,000,000 skin cells.
- Every hour one billion cells in the body must be replaced.
- The human body makes anywhere from 1 to 3 pints of saliva every 24 hours.
- The human body has approximately 37,000 miles of capillaries.
- The aorta, which is largest artery located in the body, is about the diameter of a garden hose.
- The adult human body requires about 88 pounds of oxygen daily.
Edited to say: the focus of my blog has changed quite a bit since starting (more so in the recent couple of months) and I thought a new layout was needed. Plus, if I am including pictures, I have a hard enough time taking decent ones without them having to "match" a bright pink background! Let me know what you think!
I haven't seen these much in the blogging community, but I love them. I definitely prefer them to lara bars (don't hate!), though having said that, I didn't like it much the first time I tried it so maybe should give lara another go... This was a great snack and definitely filled my "what am I in the mood for?" criteria.
I am still playing with my camera whilst also making the most of my mom's oven whilst I am still here- my new place does have an oven, but I'm not sure how soon I'll figure it out. I swear, kitchen appliances seem to have personalities of their own and it takes me a while to get to "know" my cookers! Haha... So, courtesy of Kath, I made banana baked oatmeal.
Putting it together:
Highly recommend this recipe- I've made it a few times and love it!
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
I spoke about yesterday's entry and what my thoughts on intuitive eating were and where I stand with that. She agreed that now probably isn't a good time for me to completely stray away from my plan, but we talked a lot about how I feel after eating certain foods. I explained that I had noticed a difference in satiety and energy since switching things around a little (helloooo peanut butter- where have you been all these years?!) and how certain foods seem to leave me feeling kind of drained/dizzy a few hours later (I have blood sugar issues).
She also told me about a study that was done with children under the age of 5, monkeys and rats: basically, for 1 week, they were allowed to eat as much or as little of any kind of foods they wanted. The children, for the first 2-3 days, ate nothing more than sugary snack foods. After the first few days, they veered towards much more balanced meals and snacks. Over the course of the week, their diets were completely balanced and included all food groups. Point being, that yes- initially you may want lots of the things you generally don't eat much off/see as "forbidden"/restrict, but if you listen to your body, it will soon tell you what it wants/needs.
So, I have decided, not to completely "free style" with my meal plan, but to stop planning what I am going to have for my afternoon snack. This is pretty big for me. I have been switching things up a little bit, but still sticking to certain "requirements" (calories, protein...all that lovely stuff my body loves). BUT, my overall diet is balanced enough to allow some flexibility with this one snack. It sounds really small when I write it down, but it's going to be an experiment with me listening to what *I* want to eat- taste, texture, etc, without obsessing for 2 hours about how much of xxx I need to make my jigsaw of a meal plan add up to exactly what my brain says is "okay".
Today's choice: a pumpkin spice Clif bar
Good call, body...good call.
Edited to add: I am still having trouble trying to post comments on your blogs- not sure what is going on, but rest assured I am reading and thinking of you all! Normal responses will resume when the technical side of blogosphere is restored to it's usual state.
Just a quick note before I run off to therapy to say that I am having some trouble commenting on people's blogs- the word verification thing isn't showing up, so I can't respond... Started last night and still isn't working so can't comment, but am thinking of you all, reading your blogs (stalker style now!) and want to say THANK YOU for the great comments and feedback you left me about yesterday's post.
Have a fabulous Tuesday!
Monday, 23 February 2009
I was brought up in a pretty strict household when it came to food/meals. We ate dinner together with pressure to clean our plates ("what you don't eat will be breakfast tomorrow"), desserts and treats were rare, what my parents deemed as "junk food" rarely made an appearance in our house. I don't know whether I should be grateful for this, or whether I agree with this. I don't think it had any major impact on me or my eating disorder, but I guess I never really got a chance to be intuitive and listen to my body.
Since I developed anorexia, I have become increasingly rigid around what I will/won't eat. Certain foods trigger certain memories/feelings- not all "bad" (there are foods I won't eat simply because it reminds me of my lowest points), and treatment has helped somewhat in widening the variety in my diet, though also contributing on some level to the structure I maintain around meals (ie, we ate set amounts at set times, were encouraged to stick to meal plans when we left and branching away from our set plans wasn't allowed). I have improved a lot with this- the last inpatient treatment I was in didn't adhere to a rigid meal plan- it worked by calories, not exchanges, so allowed a little more flexibility. We had rough guidelines but were encouraged to really break out of our comfort zones, try new foods, face "fear foods" head on and discover what we enjoyed eating.
So where does this leave me?..
I still follow a pretty set plan of times I eat, types of food I eat. I've improved, but am in no way an "intuitive eater". I guess I am confused about when is a good time to try being more flexible. I am not in a place physically where I can afford to lose any weight, my current intake is adequate for maintenance, though only just. I guess the pitfall of breaking away from a meal plan is the risk of being too tuned into what anorexia is saying, as opposed to being in tune with what the real *me* wants.
Has anyone got advice about this? Has anyone successfully transitioned from a meal plan to a more intuitive way of eating?
My biggest fear is that I'll suddenly want to eat anything/everything. I honestly don't know if I am hungry or full- I eat according to the clock, and I eat the amount I planned. I've started switching things up a little (ie, 3pm rolls around and I decide I'd rather have granola + yogurt than a protein bar) but beyond that, I don't know when is a good time to start experimenting.
I have been playing around with my camera a little more- still trying to figure it out, but am getting there...
Copying the "bag tag" thing floating around blogosphere lately, this is the bag I use every day:
Contents include iPod, phone, wallet, house keys, buss pass and random scraps of paper! It's a Kathy Van Zeeland bag that I got it in Macy's after my beloved Urban Outfitters bag literally fell apart on the street when I was visiting NY in November!
More of my New York purchases! I am a HUGE protein bar fan, and there is a very limited selection here in the UK so I stock up whenever I visit! This is only part of my stash, but includes pureprotein bars, Clif (and mini Clifs!), cookie dough balance bars, mini promax bars, an Odwalla bar, keribars, larabars and hot 'n' healthy squares.
This is another place mat I have- I made it in treatment when I was 20 and it's covered with inspirational quotes/pictures. Not unlike Jaime's vision board- it was a great addition to the inpatient dining table for me!
And finally, a picture of my oh-so-pretty lunch! I'm not planning on posting all my meals and snacks, but a few won't hurt ;) This is low-fat egg salad on a wholewheat English muffin (made in Scotland- does it still count as "English"?) and salad with honey mustard dressing.
I have never really made eggs except in baking or occasional recipes and always think I don't like them much- then am surprised when I *do* eat them, quite how much I enjoy them!
Also, please check out Lindsay's post- she's been doing daily posts with the theme of "loving yourself" and today's summary/wrap up makes great reading!
Sunday, 22 February 2009
It's usually a day when I am franticcaly trying to get things organised for the coming week, stressed about an "empty" day ahead of me, panicking about the disruption to my usual routine with more people around the house, less of my usual distractions.
Today has been strange. I don't know what's happening this week- I might find out tomorrow if I am moving this week, and until I know what/when, I can't really plan. Today's meals were pretty much identical to yesterday (leftovers!) so I didn't have to think about that side of things. The usual bickering in my head has been strangely quiet. Normally when there is some kind of "hush", it feels kind of calm-before-storm-type-thing. Today has been peaceful. Truly living in the moment. I don't know what is happening this week, and a Sunday is a day when I can't do anything about it. I can't chase up people who work Mon - Fri, I can't check the post, I can't expect responses to emails. I just have to "be".
It's been really WEIRD. In a nice way, but weird nonetheless. I had my shower at 1pm instead of 2pm because I felt like it. I did my laundry today instead of tomorrow because I felt like it. I went for a walk and switched up my route because I felt like it. There were no earth-shattering revelations, no "AHA" moments, no huge epiphanies or walls smashed down. It was simply a day of tuning into what I *felt* like doing, rather than what I felt compelled to do.
I'm ready for a new week. I NEEDED a day of just "being"- accepting that I can't do anything about the upcoming week right here, right now, and just for today, I am okay with that.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
Truth: Restricting is going to make me feel horrible physically, too tired to do anything and too obsessional to enjoy the things that I like
Myth: If I keep eating the way I have been, I am going to keep gaining weight
Truth: My weight is fluctuating because that's what bodies do: I am not currently eating a "weight gain diet" and my body will settle down in time
Myth: Restricting will give me something to focus on when I am in my own apartment
Truth: Restricting is going to shrink my life down to nothing more than food/weight, and will obliterate any chance I have of focusing on doing other things
Myth: I cannot tolerate the weight I am at right now
Truth: I AM tolerating it- it's not comfortable, and it's higher than anorexia wants, but no weight is going to feel "okay"
Myth: Nobody cares if I eat or not, so what's the point?
Truth: *I* care- I care if I am sleeping well, able to watch TV, have energy to go out and do things
Myth: Food's expensive- it's cheaper to just not eat
Truth: My "restricting staples" are a hell of a lot more expensive than the healthy and nourishing meals I eat when I am taking care of myself
Myth: There is nothing more out there FOR me except anorexia
Truth: I have lost everything purely BECAUSE of anorexia- I've never really given recovery a fair go to see what there might be for me
Myth: Losing weight is all I am "good" at
Truth: I don't KNOW this- I am basing it on what I have given my time to for the last 14 years...who KNOWS what I am good at? Anorexia isn't something I want to be remembered for or known for. I want to find out what my passions are!
Myth: I don't need to eat as much as I am- I can at least cut back
Truth: Cutting back to what? I am eating a maintenance diet which I am NOT used to. I am so used to losing weight/restricting, or being in hospital on a gaining diet. This is new territory and I am SCARED BEYOND BELIEF, but I know where "cut backs" are going to lead and that's not what I want to be doing right now
Myth: I WILL feel better if I lose just a few pounds
Truth: Maybe in the short-term, but then what? Lose a few more? And then what? At what costs do those "few pounds" come at?
Guys! I finally joined the 21st Century and got a camera! I have only ever had a disposable one, so this is exciting for me! A new hobby, perhaps? I am still figuring it all out (I have impressed myself by managing this one photo- taken AND uploaded!) and am looking forward to getting to grips with this over the next while...more pictures to come (and don't ya love the mat? :P )
Friday, 20 February 2009
I need to stay on track for ME- why? Because I have had enough of anorexia. I have had enough of the endless thoughts about food and weight, the obsessing over minimal amounts of calories and balancing nutrients. I know where anorexia leads me, and it's not a path I want to keep going down... It's hard enough to stay on the right path without making it harder for myself by straying every chance I get.
I want freedom to LIVE in this world, not just exist from one doctor's appointment to the next, one medical crisis to the next. I want to eat peanut butter in my oatmeal and grab a sandwich when I am out with friends.
I want to smash down the walls that anorexia has built around me- yes, the voice can be seductive at times, but the other voice in my head that whispers, "keep going" WILL get stronger the more I listen to it.
I want a healthy mind and I want a healthy body. I want to feel and act my age instead of shrivelling down into a child-sized body. I want to take up the space in this world that is ME sized, not the size anorexia leads me to believe is all I am worth.
When anorexia is digging it's claws in, that's when I need to fight for what I know, deep down, is what the "real ellie" wants. Health, happiness, freedom. Giving into temptation once or twice? Not okay. It just makes it easier to carry on down that road and the time has come to break away and focus on the direction I want to be heading.
I may not have someone around my new apartment to be accountable for, but it doesn't matter. I am accountable to ME ultimately. I know whether I am eating enough, exercising enough. I know what constitutes a meal, what a healthy amount of exercise is. And more importantly, I know that there are far more interesting things to be focusing on than a number on a scale.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
I am going to be moving into my own place soon, and although I am 100% responsible for buying/preparing my meals at the moment, and usually eat by myself, my thoughts are drifting to what I will have the freedom to do once I am on my own.
There is a small part of me that doesn't want to let this go. The identity that I have, the support I get now, the body, the whole kit and caboodle. Of course, on many more levels I DESPISE my eating disorder and am desperate to be 100% free, but there is this grey in-between area where it would be so easy/is so tempting to slip backwards into the shadows of anorexia.
I had an appointment today about accommodation (the plan is to move into supported housing, where I'll have my own place but have someone come visit a few hours a week) and whilst I was on the bus there, I started making my "new" meal plan, shopping list, etc.
I can't seem to grasp the concept that I don't need to do this anymore.
I still buy a lot of diet products- I argue with myself in the store ("why are you buying that one just because it's X cals less than the one you really want? you don't NEED to be stressing over such a minimal amount"). I still weigh myself daily hoping that the number will be less than the day before. I feel like my brain is splitting in two- the part of me that is talking the talk and making big efforts to change the way I think and act, then the lingering habits and romanticised notions of losing more weight, packing in the idea of "recovery".
I don't know if it's because I am scared of what recovery would really mean, or if I don't believe it's possible for me or if it's simply (ha- not "simply") the nature of anorexia itself to dig it's claws in every opportunity it gets.
Does anyone else find themselves doing this?
I am a little apprehensive of posting this. I don't want this to be construed as me NOT wanting recovery- I guess I am just struggling to get to grips with giving up my eating disorder. For many reasons. I think I had kind of hoped that having made the decision to get well no matter WHAT it took, it would somehow be easier.
I have to admit that this train of thought was prompted by me weighing myself this morning and seeing a significant change from yesterday which completely freaked me out.
Moving right now is a REALLY good thing for me and would be a GREAT opportunity for me to start afresh with the progress I've made recently and the support I'll have, yet my mind immediately jumps to how I will have the freedom to let anorexia run riot with no intervention.
(Possibly partly the idea that I will be by myself for the most part, and it's easier to give into my thoughts/urges than admit how scared I am that I'm going to fall apart without any type of accountability).
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
I've talked before about how much of a perfectionist I am, how I set myself up for "failure" by striving towards standards I can never meet, how I never feel good "enough".
When I was younger, I worked hard at school and my music and would interpret it as a major catastrophe if I didn't excel...even 100% wasn't enough. I always felt I could have done better. Since my eating disorder became a major issue in my life, aside from the perfectionistic drive towards food/weight goals, things have changed. I'm now almost scared to TRY because I *know* I won't meet the standards I set. The thought of not being good enough has prevented me from doing countless things- applying for jobs, going back to school, etc. The times I HAVE taken on jobs or returned to studying, regardless of how well I am doing, the fear that I'll be "caught out" as some kind of fraud who is deep down completely useless, is paralysing. My anorexia has flourished during these times- it just seems easier to have to quit the job/drop out of school because I am sick rather than wait for a time when I have to face the fact that I am too stupid/lazy/useless. I should point out that I've never waited very long- I can be getting 100% on every test, but it feels false, like NEXT time I'll fail, and it hasn't been a risk I've wanted to take. By retreating into the shadow of anorexia, I have a valid excuse to not go any further and avoid the risk of failure.
I'm not quite sure how to get over this hurdle. I need to figure out a way to stop worrying so much- it doesn't MATTER if I am not absolutely perfect. Nobody IS! So easy to say, yet so much harder to believe and accept. I need to find a way to value myself outside of external achievements...to know that I deserve to eat, be healthy and happy, regardless of what position I hold/what awards I have won. To take pleasure in the things I do, and like I mentioned recently, ENJOY THE RIDE without so much anxiety over the ultimate results.
Question of the day: What have you done recently that you were scared of even attempting in case it didn't go to plan?..
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Okay, now don't laugh at me for this...
For the last few weeks, I have been starting to feel really anxious about my age, getting "older", the connotations of being a "real" adult, etc. All that hoopla. Yesterday I had to give my date of birth for something, and I realised that I am actually a year younger than I had thought.
Age has NEVER been a big deal for me at all, and it's only recently that I've been having these panicky moments about suddenly being older. It's strangely liberating to feel like I have had an extra year added onto my life! Haha...
Question: Imagine you were given an "extra" year to do whatever you wanted in, with no repercussions (financial, physical, emotional, etc). Kind of like going to an alternate reality exactly like this one, for one year- 12 months from now, you come right back to *this moment* with no evidence whatsoever of what you did on your "extra" year...What would you do with the 365 days? What about that time would be different from how you will be spending the coming year? And of course, WHY?
My answer: I'd go travelling. I've always wanted to tour around America and would love to go to Australia. Money wouldn't be an issue because all my debts would be cleared! I'd definitely go to lots of restaurants and try foods I otherwise avoid*. I would definitely take a lot of dance classes- breakdancing, to be precise... I can't do that now due to my osteoporosis, but if I knew that regardless of what I did, a year from now things would be as they stand today, I'd definitely go for it, also paragliding! I'd love to spend some time living in a Buddhist community doing volunteer work. I am fascinated by Eastern philosophy and would love to learn hands-on more about it. I'd probably be a lot more honest and open with people if I knew that they wouldn't remember it- practice for the years that followed in developing assertiveness! In short, I think I'd throw myself headfirst into LIFE and really find out what *I* am all about, without any kind of anxiety/fear that I might have otherwise.
This has kind of made me realise the things I WANT to do, but don't. Money and practical issues are valid, but so many of the things I have always wanted to do, I haven't due to my eating disorder.
* I am going to write a list of these and start working through them and facing my fears head on. Anyone want to join me in this?
Monday, 16 February 2009
The other thing is that I've had the house to myself for the last two weeks. I have a lot of difficulties with rituals and obsessions which I am WORKING on, but it's still a huge problem. It's much easier for me to relax and ease up on the "rules" I have when I don't feel so suffocated. My mom got home from her vacation today which is hard for me in itself, given our relationship, but so much harder with all my "weirdness".
I'm also wondering if the anxiety around being with her is contributing to me not wanting to say much tonight/the old feelings of just wanting to disappear. Looking back, my regular (and much more recovery orientated!) posting coincided with her leaving.
It's weird because I find it really hard to be by myself. I am by nature, an anxious person who is also very sociable and LOVES the company of others. Yet it's so difficult for me to actually *be* with people due to all the rituals/rules I have ("must be finished dinner by 6:30 to drink coffee"/"must eat lunch at exactly 12:30 so have to be home then"/"can't eat snack anywhere else but kitchen so must be home by 3"). Kind of makes socialising difficult since literally every hour of the day there is some kind of thing I feel compelled to do, and I do this stuff alone. When I do make plans with people, I need plenty of notice in advance so I have time to plan around it/get my head around "shuffling" my timings of things around.
Oy vey. Considering I didn't want to write much, this has turned into a rather lengthy entry!
Anyone found a way to get beyond the rituals and rules? I feel like I work really hard to break one, without realising that I have actually just replaced it...and so the cycle goes. I have "broken" hundreds of them, but am still really trapped because I break it by switching it!
On another note, I found this website on someone's blog earlier (can't remember who- sorry!) and it's great for a laugh: CHECK IT OUT
I am going to try and sort pictures for later (am I the only blogger without a camera?)
BUT, I absolutely LOVE my gifts!
- a gorgeous rose broach
- a lovely picture frame
- a gift card making set (sooo excited to make some cards again!)
- a really cute little teddy bear
- thyme milk and lemon bath cream
Thanks again Helen, and thank you to Lee for organizing this! (it's also Lee's birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHICA!)
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Today's been kind of up and down. As I've talked about before, I really want to move back to New York. I've been looking into options and trying to see if I can make it work (I've moved back and forth 3 times in the last few years). There isn't a single fibre in my body that would rather be in the UK, but there are a lot of practical things to consider so it's not straightforward.
In the spirit of Jenny's post a few days ago, I realised that I am spending a HUGE amount of my time and energy thinking about where I would rather be and what I'd rather be doing. A good thing in that it gives me some focus and inspiration, but it's taking away from the things I could be appreciating right here, right now.
Soooooooo... I decided to make a list of the things I am grateful for in this moment.
- somewhere safe and comfortable to stay
- the city I live in is beautiful- this is right in the middle of the city (Starbucks gives a great view!)
- the progress I have made in recovery (I still have a lot of work to do, but I have come a long way from the darkest moments)
- living in a relatively civilised country (apparently in some cultures, you face criminal charges if you have an eating disorder?)
- my health (yes, I have a lot of consequences of my eating disorder, but things could be a LOT worse)
- having enough food, enough heat, enough of the essentials to LIVE
- having access to doctors, dentists, medication, etc if I need it
- the amazing people I have met over the last few months/years
- the friends who have stuck by me through all of this
- my family (definitely issues there, but again, could be worse!)
- my education (I haven't been in full-time school since I was 12, but that is a lot more than lots of people ever get access to)
- luxuries like internet access, phone, etc...never mind things like clean water
I don't know. I feel like I spend a lot of time thinking about other people, what they do, how they live and being insanely jealous. There is a whole world out there and so many people never get the chance to learn to read and write, never know where there next meal is coming from, have never had freedom to even play outside... Kind of makes you think, right?
Point I am trying to make is that it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing, striving, always pushing to go that extra mile/get that bit ahead, and life isn't about reaching some kind of destination: it's about enjoying the ride. Goals are important and I am a firm-believer in continuously assessing and reassessing where you are/where you want to be, but I'm also starting to see that this way of thinking means I am missing out on the moments that I have right now before they pass me by.
Question: what are you grateful for right here, right now?
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Thank you SO much for your comments. I was wary about posting- I'm trying to keep this post really focused on recovery and doing well which is helping ME to find the positives/hope amidst the muddle and thought that tonight's posting was... I don't know. Something I didn't want to really put into words.
BUT, 3 hours later and I am feeling better. Not great, but definitely more on top of things.
I sat for a while, read some blogs (love you guys!), googled some random quotes from my favourite TV show (any Scrubs fans out there?) and now, 3 hours later, am back to myself.
It's so strange thinking back now- had I acted on the feelings/urges I was so tempted to do, right now? I'd be feeling horrible. I'd feel physically unwell, upset that I gave in and just annoyed that I didn't push harder to fight the urges. In the moment, all I wanted was some "quick fix" to make things better right then and there.
I'm SO glad I waited. Literally one moment at a time, and it DID pass. It wasn't fun by any means, but the consequences of acting on impulse far outweigh the consequences of NOT acting.
Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do.
Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their day!
It's hard to hold on to what I *know* to be the "right" thing to do, when every ounce of my body and brain is telling me to do otherwise.
You know what? I'm not going to do anything.
I'm not going to paint pretty pictures or light candles. I'm not going to have a bubbly bath or do some deep breathing exercises. Neither am I going to exercise/tear up my meal plan/engage in any eating disordered behaviour.
I'm going to stay here and sit. And wait. For however long it takes, for the storm to pass. I don't have the energy to FIGHT this feeling, but I can wait, one second at a time, for it to pass.
Because it will.
It doesn't feel like it's going to end- if anything, it feels like it's growing stronger and stronger by the second. But it CAN'T last forever. Why? Because nothing ever does.
I can sit. I can wait. I can hold on. And hold on, and hold on, and hold on. Tell myself, "it's going to be okay" over and over and over again until finally, it is.
I love the way you speak
And I love the way you swear
I love the way you walk around with your head held in the air
I love the way your words move
And I love the way you drive
I love the way you're scared of people scared to be alive
Stay - stay you that's the toughest thing to do
I love the way you dress upon a Saturday night
I love the way you never speak until it feels just right
I love the way you're spending all your money on yourself
I love the way you answer the phone and pretend you're somebody else
Stay - stay you that's the toughest thing to do
And now I don't want to talk about the things you overcame
By dragging up the past I'll put you through it all again
I've got the greatest admiration for the way that you got through it
Couldn't ask nobody else to do it better than you do it
Stay - stay you .......
* * * * * *
Friday, 13 February 2009
Times like that, it's so tempting to just give in to whatever impulses come my way. Do whatever it takes to block it out, numb the anxiety, just make things "better" if even just for a short while.
I wanted to write about this because it is a trap I fall into, time and time again. Things go well for a while, I'm feeling on top of things and as a result, "deal" better... I eat better, sleep better, FEEL better. Then I have one shaky moment where I succumb to the oh-so-seductive voice of anorexia, and it starts a spiral, resulting in me falling backwards, sleeping less, getting more and more hopeless/depressed/anxious.
I left the house to go to my appointments, fully intending to exercise as much as possible in between. Then it hit me: recovery isn't conditional on feeling GOOD. Hell, if it was that easy, there wouldn't be a problem. It's about pushing through and doing what needs to be done REGARDLESS of whether it's a bad day or not. Following my meal plan, following my agreed exercise plan, etc- it's not optional. It isn't conditional- NOT "yes ellie- you do need to be doing XYZ but only on a good day...the bad days, do whatever you feel the urge to do".
Despite the negative body image thoughts.
Despite the feelings of anxiety and depression.
Despite feeling like I *can't* cope with this.
Despite the endless lies that anorexia spits out at me.
Despite the storms.
It's time for me to knuckle down and rock the recovery train, even if I can't seem to find my ticket right at that moment.
And today I am. And it's not easy.
But I'm doing it, and I know that by pushing through THIS day where I feel like packing it all in, I'm laying foundations for a better tomorrow.
Onwards and upwards guys!
Thursday, 12 February 2009
I'm doing okay at the moment in terms of managing my eating disorder, slowly making progress, but kind of feeling like that's my full-time occupation right now. An investment in the future for SURE, but I don't buy into the train of thought that you are always in recovery/just one step away from a full-blown relapse.
Perhaps I am being naive and overly-optimistic, but I want MY life to have purpose and meaning. NOT on the scale of winning Nobel prizes (lol) but I do want to feel like am making a difference somewhere. Go to bed each night knowing that I have helped changed things for the better- more than just the satisfaction that anorexia gave me ("only ate xxx today") and more than I am doing now ("I resisted the urge to do yyy today").
Just general musings on having a life worth living.
I don't know what shape or form this is going to take. I've drifted from one job to another, from one class to another, trying to figure out where I belong, what I want to DO with my life. I think as long as I feel so aimless, relapses are far more likely because I honestly don't know where else to feel like I am achieving something, working towards something.
This leaves me in a difficult position- having written off anorexia as *ever* giving my life any substantial meaning...all that seems left is a huge blank canvas and I'm not sure what to paint on it.
So my question for all you beautiful people out there today, is: what gives YOUR life purpose and meaning?
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
I've been struck this week by how precious life truly is. Both in blogs and through the loss of my friend last week. I'm still not ready to talk about that in great detail, but it's just hitting me quite how fragile life is, how we never really know what lies around the corner. That's what makes life so exciting and wonderful, but also where heartache and pain and fear lie. Uncertainty, loss, unpredictability.
I was just wandering around town (shoe shopping!), but obsessing over my usual jazz ("if I eat abc for dinner, then I should have xyz for snack") when I got to thinking quite how much time I spend thinking about food, weight, calories, etc. The sheer amount of time I devote to essentially trivial stuff. None of which is going to matter in a week, a month, 6 months, a year...next Valentine's Day, am I even going to remember what I ate for snack on February 11th 2008? Hell no.
It just really got me thinking- when I'm old, I don't want to look back on my life and remember nothing more than endless hours in grocery stores, making lists, walking the same walk every.single.day. Enough of my memories NOW are of hospital, treatment, disaster. I don't want to waste more of my time- I want to look back and remember the trips I took, the relationships I formed, the cool adventures I had with friends. I want photos of nights out partying, vacations, celebrations. NOT piles of boxes of notepads filled with calculations about exactly how many raisins to put in my oatmeal. Life's too short.
Spend your time wisely- you never know how much you have left.
I want to look back and laugh and cry at the ups and downs, but I don't want to look back with bitter regret at all the things I never did because I was "too busy" with an eating disorder.
I was thinking about this more last night, and wondering if it all goes in a circle- I know when I am not taking care of myself, it reinforces the feelings and thoughts that I don't deserve to be taken care of, and so the circle goes round and round.
My dad always used to say, "fake it till you make it" and I'm wondering if that might be worth a shot...
So, today I have decided to act "AS IF". As if I DO deserve to be kind to myself. I didn't have anything concrete planned, but I am going to go relax in Starbucks, relax in a bookstore and do some window shopping. No big deal, perhaps, but things I don't normally let myself do.
What nice thing are you going to do for yourself today?..(and if ED asks you why? The response: "because I'm worth it")
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Today's actually been a pretty good day. I'm just feeling more on top of things, more at ease with the present moment, more "okay" with just *being*, and accepting things as they are right now. Still aware of progress to be made, but not quite as frustrated with how long that takes/ready to pack it in because it's too hard. Kinda rollin' with the punches.
Something I am struggling with at the moment is the feeling of being invisible, of not being special, important, good- a good friend, a good student, a good patient, a good sister, a good "recoverer", a "good" anorexic (I know there is no such thing, but ya know what I mean!)
This has been something I've really struggled with for...uh...forever. Not so much a need to stand out, but the need to feel like I am a worthwhile person. My eating disorder definitely came into this because it gave me a focus, something I was good at, something that didn't need other people to give me credit for. A stumbling block I have come up against time and time again in recovery has been loving ME for being ME. Being able to take care of myself because I'm worth it. NOT because I won a competition or got good grades, or because I was invited to a party or because someone told me I am loved. Just doing it because I value myself enough to not care so much about what's going on around me.
I've been to self-esteem group therapy, read the handouts, recited my affirmations. But honestly? Deep down I feel like it doesn't apply to ME. Yes, others, I can see that. But I feel like the reason I don't have self-esteem is because I genuinely am not worth it.
I never really paid attention in therapy to self-esteem groups or books or anything because I felt like I didn't have self-esteem because I knew a truth about myself that others didn't see!
This isn't a shameless plug for people to say I rock (lol), but has anyone else dealt with this and managed to find a way to at least LIKE themselves?
I feel kind of stupid even asking, because I read your blogs and think you are all amazing, but was curious if it is just me.
Monday, 9 February 2009
ED thought: either act on it, or ignore it.
Act on it = it comes back again, stronger and harder to resist
Don't act on it = it comes back again, maybe stronger at first, but then softer and softer until it has NO power over me
I don't know if the thoughts and urges I have will ever go away completely. I don't know if I'll ever LOVE my body or fully be able to relax around food all the time. But I am striving towards a freedom I don't have.
I DO believe that I'll be able to eat cake on my own birthday, feel good in a pair of jeans, not weigh myself constantly. That I'll reach some level of trust with my body, my appetite, my surroundings. Why? Because those things are within MY control. I can choose whether I spend 4 hours walking, or I can choose to sit with the feelings that come up if I DON'T walk. Either way, there are consequences...either feeling crappy mentally, or feeling crappy physically. The difference being that if I DO walk, I then have to do it again tomorrow, more the next day. If I don't? I sit around feeling guilty and lazy. Tomorrow maybe worse. This time next week, I see I have survived. The world is still turning. Nothing drastic has changed except I have taken that little bit more power back.
Update on walking: I woke up this morning, jumped out of bed and something did not feel right. Not the mild pain I have been ignoring all week, but an inability to actually make it down the hallway to go to the bathroom. I'm not sure if it's from the cold, the bad shoes, old stress fractures or WHAT (I'll go see my doc later this week) but I LISTENED TO MY BODY AND RESTED. I was anxious, but I am dealing with it. Not comfortably, but c'est la vie. The benefits of not walking today far outweigh the cons and I'm NOT going to feel bad for taking a day to rest and recover. YEAH!
Sunday, 8 February 2009
I think I've mentioned before about my walking. I've been further and further lately- after randomly inputting my walks into "Map My Run", the walks have gotten longer/faster (no big surprise there, right?..) The weather this week has been particularly horrible, yet my walking has continued. My boots literally fell apart in the snow and I took them off to walk in just my socks. I have my class tomorrow morning and therapy Tuesday morning- the biggest thing on my mind about both of these is, "how will I fit in my walking?".
Stupid ED rules. Need to be home by 12 if I am going to have lunch, which means that if my morning is taken up with class/appointments, I need to leave at a crazy hour to have enough time to fit in my walk. It's only tonight when I was getting my bag packed for class that I had my, "AHA!" moment. You would have thought that a toenail falling off and my feet being literally bruised would have been a signal, no?
I am so frustrated right now. I really thought things were going WELL- and they *are*. I'm not going to discredit the attempts I have made this week with regards to food/meals/eating, because it's been a significant challenge and I HAVE made progress. But now I don't know if it was even real progress to begin with, or if I was just switching symptoms, or walking to ignore the anxiety that came up with changing my eating.
How do you guys deal with the anxiety that comes up when you are challenging eating disordered fears?..
In other news, I am really excited about the secret cupid valentine exchange- I mailed mine last week and am looking forward to it being received and posted on this person's blog! (YOUR blog...no, YOU...no YOU!!! Hehe...)
Friday, 6 February 2009
I have recently noticed myself having conversations with people I don't know very well making me feel really uncomfortable. A common theme amongst conversations with people who don't know me or my history, seems to be weight and dieting. This doesn't sit well with me. I'm really not okay discussing diets or the weight they have lost- whether they need to or not, I don't really want to engage in the conversation. Similar story with friends I have met in hospital- I WANT to be a supportive friend, a good listener...but on the other hand, I don't want to hear about the latest admission to hospital, latest treatment contract, latest threat from doctors. It's not that I find it triggering right now- I find it (and am struggling to find the right word for this) boring.
I just feel like I have been there, struggled with that, it's not a current issue I am facing and I don't really want to be reminded of the times in my life when that has been the biggest issue going on. I feel really guilty for even thinking this way. I am well aware of the fact that friends have moved forwards with their recovery and cut off contact with me for this same reason, and how hurt and misunderstood *I* felt at the time. It hurts me to feel like I am doing the same thing to people now.
I'm finding myself deleting emails without responding, deleting facebook wall messages without even acknowledging that they were even there. I don't know if I am being selfish or sensible, but I can't bring myself to 1) engage in the discussion, or 2) let the person know that I'm not in a place right now where I am comfortable with this.
I am REALLY enjoying spending less time reading eating disorders message forums and more time reading recovery-orientated blogs. I think it's helping ME right now, but am wary of responding too much/getting too involved with the blogging community because I don't want to be "that girl" that is pulling everyone else down.
I don't know. I feel like I am moving into a different place recovery-wise, where I am drawn to the HEALTHY side of me, but am still very much connected to the sick part of me. Trapped in between and not really fitting in on either side (and not quite sure where I "go" in between...except continuing to plough forwards, of course!)
The LAST thing I want is for people to read this and think I am talking about THEM- I'm NOT TALKING ABOUT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR. Merely stepping back and observing that I am moving forward and it's a strange kind of "no one's land" I find myself in.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Tonight I was trying to unwind and watch "Friends". I suddenly realised that I used a different measuring cup than usual for tomorrow's breakfast. Let me explain- I have a few different breakfasts that I rotate. Usually some kind of oatmeal combination, but depending on mix-ins, different amounts of stuff are added (ED rule: breakfast has to be exactly XXX calories, no more and no less). So tomorrow's breakfast is breaking that rule. I sat there getting more and more anxious, more and more distracted- should I throw away what I made and make another batch? Should I compensate later in the day? If so when? Lunch? Snack? Or exercise more? How much more?
Then I realised what was happening.
*in walks CBT*
I realised that I can't remember which cup I have been using all week (*ED starts screaming*)- hey, they all look similar. I may well have been having extra for 2 days, 5 days, a week...who knows? I started calculating to figure out exactly the amount I need to cut out of tomorrow's planned meals so my numbers fit together like a nice little pretty jigsaw.
Precisely 13.6 calories.
Eh? ALL that stress over the amount of calories I probably burn lifting the slightly heavier measuring cup ( :P ) ?..
I feel kind of dumb now. It hasn't affected my weight at all. Hell, I need any extra calcium and protein I can get right now. In the grand scheme of my day's intake, it's NOTHING. I don't measure/weigh out stuff like vegetables or fruit exactly- it could be over/under one day and I don't know/don't care/don't even notice (ED rule: this particular item 'counts').
Ha. Not anymore. I'm going to stick with the 1/2 cup measuring cup because my breakfasts right now taste great, make me feel great, and I REFUSE, at the age of 26, to be sitting at home stressing over something so minuscule.
Move over ED. You're getting in the way of the life I have waiting for me.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
I received news yesterday that a friend from treatment passed away yesterday. I'm not ready to talk about it at this moment, but I did feel a need to say something.
I know most of my readers are waging their own wars against their eating disorders right now. I beg you, to KEEP on battling. To carry on with this fight for your life, because if you don't- who will? We don't need to do this alone, but ultimately, the demons are within us. It's up to us to wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY and make the choices necessary to move beyond this horrible illness. The results of listening to that voice in your head is beyond tragic- either ending in death, or a tortured existence. Nobody deserves to be trapped in an eating disordered life. Nobody chooses to be afflicted with an eating disorder- but we, as sufferers, CAN fight our way out of this. Hell, I don't know right now if I even believe this. There are so many unanswered questions in my head right now and I don't know if I am making sense right now.
All I know is the statistics. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric condition. 20% of sufferers I die. I look around my friends who struggle with eating disorders, and thought of losing anyone, is heart wrenching. I have lost too many friends to this, and I can't even contemplate the thought of losing more. I doubt these people ever realised quite how much they meant to their friends and family... I question my own value to MY friends and family.
Right now I am questioning whether death is inevitable, whether recovery is even possible, whether this is all that there really is.
Deep down, I know that what I *really* believe is that nobody is destined to lose the battle they are facing. Everyone has a fighting chance, and if you grab it and FIGHT LIKE HELL, the odds of winning are in your favour. So I ask this of you, of ALL of you, to never back down. To fight and fight and fight until your eating disorder is obliterated. Face fear in the face and LAUGH. Acknowledge that voice in your head telling you to restrict/purge/exercise and IGNORE IT. Set challenges each and every day- take every opportunity you get to leap towards a life free from this hell.
Because you deserve it. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be healthy and you deserve to be free.
Monday, 2 February 2009
So, who am I?..
I am a huge music fan- I grew up playing the harp, but don't play much anymore. I LOVE soundtracks to musicals and have about a hundred on my iPod! I also love Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Pink and Katy Melua.
I am obsessed with the TV show "Scrubs"- at the age of 3, I wanted to be a doctor and although no longer interested in studying medicine, I love medical related humor! I really enjoy most American sitcoms, and have recently discovered a hilarious general knowledge show called "QI".
I am really interested in diet and nutrition- eating disorder aside, I think my interest stems from earlier interest in medicine. I love trying new foods but am a self-confessed terrible cook...but hey, microwaves and sandwiches are good substitutes! Haha!
I have pierced ears and long hair- I never change my earrings and I never do anything with my hair except tie it back in the same messy bun every day! I don't wear a watch despite my obsession with punctuality so if you spend more than half an hour with me, I am guaranteed to ask you the time at least once (or twice...).
I love making people laugh and I love being made to laugh. People generally don't "get" my sense of humor initially which has lead to some awkward beginnings- which have then flourished into amazing friendships. I make jokes when I'm nervous/anxious/upset (don't try this in group therapy- doesn't go down well!). I laugh at really inappropriate times, taking things FAR too lightly...then the "light" stuff hits me hard.
I live in jeans and sweatshirts and collect school sweatshirts and t-shirts with funky slogans- I usually buy a few plain tank tops in summer and make my own. I have dressier clothes that I LOVE but rarely wear- what can I say? I can't walk in heels, and my Urban Outfitters skirts and dresses just look strange with sneakers!
I love making inspirational collages with random words, pictures and quotes I find in magazines. I also love collecting random items (magnets, jewellery, etc) with inspirational quotes on them.
I have been wanting to work in advertising and took a class at NYU in "advertising copywriting" which I loved. Kind of gave up on that after working as a receptionist at various agencies in New York and seeing the pressure involved! I'm not sure what the future holds study/work-wise, but I love learning and exploring options. One day I'll grow up and get a real job!
I think about moving a LOT. I love looking at Craigslist at different places and dreaming about what it would be like to live there... I've always wanted to visit Australia and California, but New York is my favorite place in the world, and where I class as "home".
I am more than anorexia. I am more than a patient. I am more than my emotions, my thoughts, my weight, my meals. I am ELLIE- hear me ROAR!