Home Again

28 10 2010

My 10 day trip was cut drastically short. It wasn’t due to ED that the trip was cut short but it’s probably a good thing that it was. I was starting to slip rather significantly. I didn’t feel like eating all of my breakfast yesterday and so, I didn’t. I was full at lunch, so I only ate half. I somehow missed both my morning and afternoon snack. Yesterday wasn’t very good, even though I did manage to finally meet my calorie count with a huge, calorie soaked dinner that kept me anxious for hours. Upon my arrival home, KY and I had a rather intense come to Jesus meeting regarding my slipping and my choice to perpetuate those lapses. I got frustrated and angry when confronted and informed him that:

  • At least I ate. I didn’t have to eat at all. <—- Don’t DO this! It was bad, really bad.
  • It happens.
  • It’ll happen again. <—- This didn’t thrill him, either!
  • That I just didn’t FEEL like it, darnit.

None of those points landed me in a very happy situation. A couple hours later, I had finally calmed down enough to see not only his points, but why he’d reacted the way he did. After my recent significant relapse, he wasn’t allowing any foothold at all and was stopping ED dead in his tracks. So, I’ve got it now and I’m good to try again today. ūüôā

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Green Eggs and Ham Recovery

25 10 2010

I’m currently traveling. Carrie, of ED-Bites, wrote a really good post right before I left. Her list is full of things that we all KNOW but that become very easy to forget. For instance, have fun, bring calorie and nutrient-dense snacks and have a back-up plan. It’s the same thing we’ve all done the entire time we’ve been in recovery . . . . but all of a sudden, when you switch up the locale, it’s like we’re on the moon. Nothing works the way it should. Everything is screwy and “different.”

For me, this is “green eggs and ham” recovery. Would you eat it here or there? Would you eat it anywhere? Would you eat it in a box? Would you eat it with a fox? Would you eat them in a house? Would you eat them with a mouse?

Most often, my answer to all of that is, “NO.” I would not eat it in a box. I would not eat it with a fox. I would not eat it in a house. I would not eat it with a mouse. I would not eat it here or there. I would not eat it anywhere!

I don’t want any part of this food at home. Now, all of a sudden, I’m on the road for 10 days. Well, it’s not really “all of a sudden.” This was a trip that’s been planned for weeks/months/huge chunk of time. I wasn’t gonna miss out. I convinced myself that I could do this and I’m determined to do it, darnit.

It’s not easy. My green eggs and ham just aren’t happening well. I’ve eaten food I don’t like and that I’m not comfortable with. I’ve chowed down on greasy local pizza because it was the only thing available. I’ve chowed down on a huge bag of trail mix because I got stressed and found myself eating it out of boredom and anxiety . . . . which only made me more anxious! My anxiety levels are already through the roof because I’ve gained a rather significant chunk of weight relatively quickly. I never dropped below a healthy weight; there’s no reason for me to gain weight. So, that’s causing issues.

The need to restrict, to cut back, to let go, is strong and intense. I’m careful to eat more than I think I need and to eat calorie-dense foods such as nuts and cheeses. My roommate for this trip is vegetarian and is VERY set on “healthy, low-calorie, organic” foods. She has very set ideas as to what “good” food is and what “bad” food is. Heaven forbid she see anyone eating a “bad” food. She goes on a rant about it. She also said something that I think has screwed up my head even worse than it was . . . . ¬†well, two things:

  • I don’t eat corn. Pigs eat corn and have you seen them?
  • Then, she said something that someone said to her when she was heavier. She said, “They said, ‘You’re fat. I won’t sugarcoat it because I’m afraid you’d eat that, too.”

Well, I just about lost it. I FEEL like I’m eating everything and I know I’m eating a lot more than I usually do. Part of that is related to my period, part of it related to coming into this phase of recovery from an INTENSE starvation phase and part of it just stress. I eat more than she does. I feel like I eat more than EVERYONE because I NEVER see them eat.

Right now, I just am having a really hard time dealing with myself and the green eggs and ham recovery. I was determined to make it here, though, darnit, and I’m gonna eat. End of story. I like green eggs and ham! I like them, Sam I Am!





No More Secrets

16 10 2010

As I look over this past posts, it seems as if there’s always a “starting again.” I’ve yet to see a “I just ate a huge meal that I greatly enjoyed and it was wonderful. The end.”

I’m looking forward to that day. Yesterday, I was asked about my ED and how I was doing. I’d been doing horrible. I’d fallen fast and far. My calorie count had dwindled to basically non-existent. I was sporadically purging. I was lying about my intake and activities.

I’m glad that’s all out in the open. It’s almost as if once that barrier between ED and the world is broken, it’s ok to just “be” sick. There is no shame, no embarrassment and no fear. It’s ok that I’m struggling. It’s ok that I’m having a hard time. What’s not ok is not eating or purging and not telling anyone. Well, it’s not really ok, period. Regardless, it feels wonderful to have the OPTION of telling someone, a¬†luxury¬†that ED strips from me quickly and completely.

ED has been raging ever since I finally told. It’s been really bad, a war zone in my own head. However, I’ve had a good day and I foresee many, many, many more to come. So, today, I make an affirmation:

NO MORE SECRETS. When the secrets come, recovery starts to slip. That can’t happen again. I won’t allow it to happen again.





Anxiety

13 10 2010

Anxiety is a really strange monster. It’s intense, overwhelming and all-consuming. No matter what you do, it continues to build. As it’s building, there are frantic attempts to make it stop. Sometimes, this is purging. Sometimes, it’s self-injury. Sometimes, it’s exercising. Sometimes, it’s a drug. Sometimes, it’s music and pacing. Whatever the case may be (outside of purging, which acts as a drug and actual drugs, such as Klonopin or Ativan), nothing is really effective in STOPPING or LOWERING anxiety.

At this point, I expect many of you went “That’s not true! When I do blah blah blah” the anxiety goes away.”

However, consider that point. When you’re pacing/listening to music/rocking back and forth/crying/running/watching a movie, what’s really happening?

Time is passing. Outside of drugs, time is the only things that truly lessens anxiety. It will build, it will reach a peak and then slowly, it will taper off. Here are some things to remember:

  • Anxiety is just a feeling. You don’t have to *do* anything about it.
  • It will go away. It’s impossible to stay at the peak of anything forever. By the very definition, “peak” is a physical or emotional¬†pinnacle. Once it gets as bad as it can get, it’ll get better.
  • Pick safe activities. Remember the key here is TIME. So, while time is passing, pick a safe activity. Play a board game. Watch a funny movie. If it’s allowed by your treatment plan, take a walk with a safe person. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. ED and Sia have a funny way of worming into your brain when you’re by yourself.
  • Focus on something other than what you feel. Give the dog a bath. Braid your sister’s hair. Focus on your breath. The funny thing about breath is that your thoughts influence your breathing (when you get all worked up, your breath is fast and jerky) but your breath can also influence your thoughts! Calm your breathing consciously and eventually, your thoughts will calm as well.
  • Know that the more you do something, the less anxious it will make you. This is a¬†desensitization¬†process. Facing your fear and winning has a strange way of making anxiety see that there’s no reason for it to hang around.




For Parents

11 10 2010

Parents and caretakers,

Today, this post is for you. If you have a son or daughter suffering from an eating disorder, I want to applaud your strength, determination and love. Eating disorder treatment isn’t easy, nor is it fun. Today, I wanted to give you guys some resources. First, here are some things you should know about eating disorders:

  • It’s not a choice. We didn’t choose this and while it may seem that we wish to perpetuate the eating disorder, it’s just as much a hell for us as it is for you.
  • It’s not your fault. No matter what, don’t play the guilt game. Eating disorders are sneaky and secretive and very hard to pin down. Don’t blame yourself for “not knowing” or for “not acting sooner.”
  • There is support. If you don’t have a support group locally, find one online. It will prove invaluable throughout the course of your son or daughter’s treatment. In order to help us take care of ourselves, you must take care of YOURSELF.

Here are some things to remember about us:

  • We are people first. Between all of the doctor’s appointments, nutritionalist appointments, therapist appointments and all the other appointments, it’s so easy to forget that we still exist under this fog. We are people first and eating disordered second.
  • When we get defensive, lie to you, or have emotional breakdowns, take a step back and remember that we’re scared, feel out of control and hate what we’ve become. We take comfort in our eating disorder just as much as we loathe and fear it.
  • We don’t always know what we need. An eating disorder can cloud our perception so much that we’re unable or unwilling to care for ourselves. Please be willing to step in and do what must be done.

Here are a couple more things to remember:

  • We will lie to you throughout the course of treatment. We won’t always mean to but the fear easily overrides our desire to tell to truth. It may be fear of your reaction, fear of food or fear driven by the lies of ED. Please don’t take this personally. Take it as a sign that we need help still and aren’t ready to function by ourselves.
  • Don’t trust us. If you didn’t see us eat it, assume we didn’t eat it. If we didn’t stay with you, assume that we’ve purged. No matter what we tell you, if you didn’t see it during the beginning stages of treatment (or as long as someone is uncooperative), assume it’s not true. An eating disorder is sneaky and manipulative and will do anything to get its way. While we may throw pitching, screaming, yelling fits at your “control,” during initial treatment, we need that safety net and accountability.

Finally, here are some important signs and symptoms of a relapse. I know there are signs of relapses posted everywhere but I’ve yet to see a list dedicated towards parents and caretakers. All the lists I’ve seen are focused on the eating¬†disordered¬†person themselves and what their behaviors and thought processes are doing.

  • Weight loss. If we’ve been on a meal plan and maintaining weight (or gaining) for awhile and suddenly start losing weight, something is up. Corner us, pin us down. We don’t really want to relapse. Eating is scary and can be¬†inconvenient¬†but relapses are even more¬†inconvenient.
  • Withdraw. If we’ve been working with you throughout recovery and all of a sudden, we’re defensive and wary, something is up. Watch us very carefully for we’re starting to struggle.
  • Shift in clothing choice. If we’re suddenly wearing a different style of clothing (big, baggy, warmer), look at us with suspicion. We’re either masking weight loss or we’re cold all the time.
  • We take extra time to change position. You may not see blatant dizziness for most of us are really good at hiding that. However, we make take a few extra seconds while standing to catch out balance and let the buzzing in our skull pass.
  • You notice an increase in anxiety. If we’ve been doing well and all of a sudden we seem to flip out, something is going on, even if we don’t know it or we don’t understand it. Probe deeper.
  • We start noting a reluctance or a return to old thinking patterns. We probably won’t come out and tell you, “I don’t feel like eating.” What we may do is use phrases like “In a bit.” or “I guess I will.” or something similar to signal how¬†reluctant¬†and¬†unenthusiastic we are.
  • We start talking about food more. If everything in the world always sounds good and we want to talk about food all the time, it’s probably because we’re *hungry* all the time. We might start looking through recipe books or researching meal ideas.




Eternal Vigilance

8 10 2010
So I know I owe you guys an update. Eating disorders are so cyclic. It seems to be “really good” or “really bad” and it goes from 0 to 60 faster than anything I’ve known. One blogger I follow, ED-Bites uses the traffic light system to figure out where she is, recovery wise. It seems to be a really good system and one that I’m going to have to give more thought to. In the meantime, I give you a quote:
The price you pay for freedom is eternal vigilance.
— Mad Eye Moody
Avid Harry Potter fan, here . . . . Mad Eye Moody definitely has a point, though. When you deal with an illness as potent and powerful as anorexia, it’s entirely possible (to borrow ED-Bites analogy) to go from Green Light (recovery) to RED LIGHT (Get help NOW!) in as little as a few days. Some of us (and I tend to be one of these people) completely bypass the Yellow Light. I’m either fine, or I’m not. There is very little middle-of-the-road. The trick to being free from an eating disorder is to be ever vigilant against the signs and symptoms and seek help early.
Today, I just urge everyone to remember how strong you are. When you feel like giving up, remember why you’ve hung on for so long in the first place. Also, here are some common signs of relapse to remember:
EARLY SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE
  • You have thoughts about cheating on your meal plan/calorie count.
  • You find yourself wondering what your weight is more frequently.
  • Your internal voice is getting slightly more critical.
  • You find yourself remember favorable parts of ED.
  • You have a vague, passing sense of anxiety.

MIDDLE SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE

  • You find yourself cutting out “fringe foods” like fruit after dinner, a special treat or salad.
  • You find yourself shaving calories in any way possible.
  • You find yourself thinking that “a little bit never hurt anyone.”
  • You find yourself fudging the truth with your treatment team.
  • You don’t finish portions.
  • You start noticing slightly increased anxiety.
  • You start noticing thoughts about safe/unsafe foods.
  • You start having lapses. (Single instances of missing meals or purging.)
  • You notice that you don’t really care what kinds of foods are around or not. (Grocery trips are less frequent.)

LATE SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE

  • Instead of hanging onto the cliff with your fingernails, you let go and shove back from the edge.
  • The thoughts are constant and overwhelming.
  • Anxiety and depression levels are high.
  • You avoid situations with food.
  • Outright lying to your treatment team
  • Grocery trips cause intense anxiety.
  • Intake dwindles/purging increases
  • Fear and panic is more and more common.
  • Weight loss of more than 5-10 pounds within a month
  • Clothes that fit are too loose.
  • Shifts towards a primarily liquid diet
  • Weighing yourself multiple times a day
  • Increased pill/laxative use
  • Increased compulsive exercise
  • Planning fasts
  • Digging out the ana/mia playlist
  • Increase in self-harm
  • Fear of talking with your treatment team
  • Shame/desolation
  • Telling yourself that you’ll only do it for a “little while”




Extended Update

1 07 2010

So it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted and I feel obligated to provide an update. Not only do I wish to do so for myself, but I also wish to show that struggles are common throughout the process of recovery.

It’s. . . . . . . it’s been a rough month. Food freak-outs are pretty common. Sometimes I eat too much and sometimes I don’t eat enough. I haven’t been purging but the battle is stronger than ever. The thoughts are pervasive, annoying, and constant. After a quick drop of a few pounds, though, my weight has been stable.

I’m having an easier time ignoring the pervasive voices and ED suggestions, but at the same point in time, some days, I just want to embrace my eating disorder with ever fiber of my being. I want to embrace the endorphin high, the sense of control, and the ability to shut the voices up.

I do, however, know that ED is an angel of darkness. While I know that the voices would shut up briefly, in the long run, they would quickly become clamoring and loud. They would make me miserable and sap every bit of self-confidence that I have. I know that the endorphin rush comes and comes strong. . . . . yet brings a crash of depression like nothing else. I know that the initial sense of control quickly fades as ana would grip my brain and body once again, leading eventually into the loathsome cycle of mia.

It’s not worth it. There are days I long for the freedom to do as my mind drives me to do. . . . . . yet I know the temporary pay-off isn’t worth the long-term struggle and pain. I’m weary fighting now, yet if I take 5 steps back, it’ll only be that much harder to regain my footing.

Until we talk again, my friends, know that the only option is to keep on keeping on. One bite, one food, one meal, one day, at a time.








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