I used to post so much more often than I do now… oh right, I’m in iOP, I go to therapy twice a week, I volunteer at a horse ranch…. duh. Sometimes I simply forget whatever my current schedule is and think I ought to be doing what I used to. Isn’t that like anorexia recovery though?
I wake up with the ED mindset. It’s not a conscious thing, just a reset so to speak, till I get into the kitchen. “Oh right, breakfast… I’m supposed to eat that. Set the alarm for the next meal.” Sadness. Time to get dressed. I put on my new jeans. Too tight. Anger. They said they’d loosen up and I’ve been wearing Lucky Jeans for so many years that I know they’ll loosen up but… “I’m fat, I’ve gained weight… it’s because he made me start eating carbs again.” Devastation. So I pull out my jeans, which are the exact same size, from the laundry basket. “Maybe they are cut different, that happens with this brand since they are hand cut individually, maybe I’m not that size anymore… what is the size anyway?” The vanity size on these jeans makes me angry. I’m not that size and I know it. The actual size is 4 sizes higher but American vanity sizes have gotten out of control. I am not, nor ever have been, accept at my sickest, been the label size of my new jeans. I wanted the actual size so I could deal with it in therapy. I’d rip out the label but I can’t because it does what the manufacturers wanted – makes me feel better. So… my laundry basket pants feel fine, fit perfectly. “Maybe I’ll wear the dirty ones, I’m just going to the ranch after all.” I smell them, nope. I put on the new ones but leave all the tags on. Peggy, the director of the ranch, asked me to come in the afternoon to help with Veterans One group. That gives me time for them to stretch out, if they are going to. “I hate my body, I’m fat… I knew drinking water would make me fat… I must have shrank when I slipped back into eating only protein. Starting carbs yesterday made me gain 10 lbs, clearly.” I finish my required protein shake. Sad. I have the alarm set for 8am to have 2 eggs, toast and a Tbsp of margarine (yeah, that’s one lipid). I sit at the computer… “I’ll never be free.” Depression.
I saw my nutritionist last Wednesday and promised I’d get back to my meal plan the following day. The next morning I somehow worked out in my head that since I’m not exercising there was, in fact, no need to eat carbs so I increased my protein, eliminated carbs, but packed a regular sandwich for iOP, just in case. Oh come on, I knew better but I was hoping that my nutritionist who has decades of experience would somehow forget all that and say okay. I saw him later that afternoon and asked him. He listened to my proposition with all earnestness but I could see he was trying not to laugh. I love my nutritionist; he makes me laugh at my ridiculous behavior, even when I feel like it’s the most plausible thing to do. He quietly told me that carbs feed my brain and, yes, I need carbs. Oh right, the brain… somehow I forgot about that. Then I tentatively asked him, even though I already new but was emphatically denying to myself, “Do you think my sudden overwhelming fatigue is because I haven’t been eating carbs?” (desperately hoping he’d say no) “Carbs gives you every.” Argument, that wasn’t an argument except in my mind, was over.
Next question. “I think I’m going to be a statistic. I don’t think I’ll ever recover (eyes starting to tear up). Do you think I’ll ever recover?” He would have said yes anyway but having recently connected with my therapist he said, “Yes, I do because both I and ____ (my therapist) will be kicking your butt.” By the way, he has a gift of saying things with a period even though he means it with an explanation point.
During iOP that evening my recovery self (10%) was interested in the conversation with how to deal with free time without behavior for the 3 day weekend (US holiday: Memorial Day). The anorexic self (90% increased because of recent behavior) was just annoyed. I was distracted driving the 2 ¼ hrs home too. Half of me listened to a kindle audio book, part of me wanted to cry in frustration but couldn’t, part of me wanted to scream in rebellion and never eat carbs again. I was depressed and I knew it was from not eating enough. I was tired and I knew it was from not eating enough. I wanted to care and didn’t. I would gladly pay the price of restriction yet knew I would carry on with eating. The reward of restriction is less anxiety, less obsessive thoughts (initially), less physical pain. The reward for compliance is getting to do EMDR on the overwhelming shame I live with. To recover I have to deal with shame. To deal with shame I have to eat. No food = no EMDR.
I’ll be explaining the shame in more detail in an upcoming post. This weekend I’ll be writing 2 more posts, one each on the different art therapy projects I’ve recently done. The first is a past/future thing, the second is shame.
The above is an example of daily life with an eating disorder. If there are any non-EDs who read, does this help with understanding? For ED’ers, please don’t let this deter you from recovery. I think it is important to talk about and validate how hard recovery is. Sometimes people think that when we are weight restored, we’ve arrived, it’s somehow easier. No, it’s harder and, in fact, the hardest part of all. I prefer revealing the truth so that we can do this together. I hate having anorexia but I love having it way more. Maybe someday I’ll hate it more than I love it but that isn’t today. That is the reality of eating disorder recovery.