1. another anorexic myth, 2. shame

Part One

I’m not sure I can write this because I’ve been having such a difficult time with being compliant with my meal plan. The result is exhaustion, constant hunger, and feeling generally blah. I’d like to say that I tried but did I? Did I really? I think so but the evidence shows otherwise. Is it because of the art therapy piece I’m going to share today? I don’t know, I’m too numb to figure it out. No, not numb, I do feel but I don’t want to. That really is a myth of anorexia if you want to know the truth. We feel, we feel strongly. Emotions are magnified all the more from behavior; for me behavior is restriction. What actually happens is that we repress. We push everything down, we obsess constantly on our behavior to push out other thoughts and feelings but yes, we feel… that is at first, and for quite some time. It’s only when we’ve so depleted our bodies to the point of being critical ill, requiring hospitalization, that numbness comes in to play. At the point the brain is doing everything possible to get us to eat. All thoughts end up being eat, eat, eat, eat. The more we think it, the less we do it. Then we go into a program, or in the hospital, or we die.

Part Two

I’ll repeat what I’ve said in previous posts for the sake of explanation of the role of shame. Shame is intwined with anorexia for me. To recover I have to deal with the shame. My therapist won’t work on shame, or rather, do EMDR which will immensely help with that unless I am compliant with my meal plan. She’s done some research and found that if she does EMDR while I am doing behavior, it will solidify that behavior as the solution, or something like that. However, in order to eat, I need to address the shame. To put it succinctly, I don’t eat to avoid shame but I have to eat to deal with it.

Art Therapy

The prompt was to draw a Problem Monster. We had to picture something that was a problem for us like an emotion or behavior. Most people did PTSD, some did anxiety, and other stuff. I hadn’t even thought of that. I went straight to shame since that really is the core of all my (difficult) emotions. However, I don’t draw, it’s not something I was ever gifted with, I’m all stick figures and words (amused smirk).  So I did this:

IMG_1365.JPG

I hadn’t realized that the last two letters, both grey, spelled “ME”. When I do art therapy I sit for a moment then draw what flashed in my mind. I rarely know the symbolism till later when I’m talking or processing with others. I knew the word shame had to be big. I also knew I had to do ants. The other stuff plus the coloring came later when I was working on it at home. I realized ants were perfect. They live underground, hidden (repression), but come up in droves (my reactions to most situations, feelings, thoughts of self), sometimes covering it’s prey. One person pointed out that they follow each other (memory leading to another memory leading to another). The spiders? Who knows. I think it was to fill the page or something. Maybe it’s that when you walk through cobwebs they stick. Yuck. I didn’t know why I put mountains. My therapist pointed out that the Shame was so much larger than them; the mountains show how big an issue it is for me. That made sense. The one thing I felt frantic about was that every part of the page had to be covered, that no white could show. I still have no idea why. In this copy it does look like it’s white around the ants and the cobwebs but they are actually grey. My camera must have enhanced it making it brighter. It’s not bright, it’s dark.

The art therapist explained that the point of the project was the personify the problem outside of ourselves so we could talk to it. Can I just say I absolutely hate personifying anything! My therapist knows this so explained it in a different way; to move it away from myself to give me a enough space to face the issue. I took the picture and hugged it to myself telling her that this was at my core, that this is my core. Shame is all of me and I don’t know what life would be without it, if there is even a “me ” beyond shame.

Timeline…

… and possible explanation of behavior? Last week, meaning Saturday to Wednesday, I was non-compliant. I saw both my therapist and nutritionist that day. I dealt with this picture in therapy then processed it in art therapy that evening. My therapist wanted me to focus on it before art therapy so basically, this was the sole focus all day Wednesday. That evening I met with my nutritionist. I told him what I thought triggered the behavior never realizing that I had started this picture the previous Wednesday. I’ll have to bring that up this week. Anyway, I was super motivated to get back on track and told him that. I was, truly. I felt kind of settled and knew it would be difficult but was willing to do it. I got up the next morning and managed by eating one food group at a time with an hour in between. I was compliant, I was back on track, or so I thought. Saturday morning I got up and looked at the bread and looked and looked and looked, finally shutting the fridge door. The weekend was an abysmal failure. I tried again Monday and managed to get everything in but a cup of soy milk and some nuts. That really wasn’t good enough. Any restriction effects my bodies health.

Now it is Tuesday morning. It took two hours to finally get to my protein drink. I don’t know why. Today I am going to the ranch to help with some organization. I need energy to do this, I need to eat. I will try. I need to go in to my nutritionist appointment tomorrow, and therapy, saying I did it, that I can do it.

I feel trapped again. I feel like a small animal who got stuck in a hole and is desperately trying to get out. The only way I can get out is to get help with widening the hole. I have to ask. I will ask. I hope that tomorrow I will get that help. If I get back to the place of feeling resigned to behavior, I will end up back in a program. That, I don’t want!

4 thoughts on “1. another anorexic myth, 2. shame

  1. I’m so impressed by how open minded you are… in all aspects of your life/recovery, and particularly when it comes to drawing and art because I’m worse than you, I barely remember what a stick man looks like! Reading about the things you try gives me a tiny nudge in that direction to “fix” my life.

    One question I had (feel free to discuss or not…) is about shame. What does that mean to you and how is it built into your life, past and every day? You talk about it a lot, and I often wonder if that is the case for me too but besides the Merriam-Webster definition, I’m unsure how it could apply in real (messed up) life…!

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    1. Hmmm, shame. Have you brought it up with your therapist? I ask because I would have answered differently before I saw mine today. I’m still quite vague and unsure about it all honestly. I know that I do a lot of behavior to avoid it! Because she knows me and my history, she is able to see the whole picture, patterns and the like.

      It comes from many areas of my life. I’ve had a huge variety of living over the years and tend to remember all the failures rather than successes even though there are, in fact, successes. Maybe the shame deepened with every perceived failure. Maybe not. My therapist said that for some reason, a reason we may never know, I decided to hold on to shame rather than achievements or anything else.

      My goal in therapy is the lesson it’s impact on me so that I can learn to manage the eating disorder and also so I can start to feel connections to people and maybe even gain a sense of wellness.

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  2. I can see you’re trying. I know I felt the same while I was deep in behaviors…it didn’t look like I was trying to other people, but I knew I was. It’s so hard…and some people don’t understand that. Like the whole, “why can’t you just eat” bit.
    I agree with what you’re saying about feeling emotions in anorexia. I know I did. I felt the most intense anxiety and depression surrounding my behaviors, as well as PTSD symptoms. The behaviors helped me cope, but they never made me not feel anything at all. Even feeling void felt like something.

    You can do this. ❤

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