50 Shades of… pizza?

Good morning all!  Unless of course you live in another time zone, which I mean if you live in the majority of the world you do, in which case it’s a good afternoon, good evening, or good night.

Wasn’t there a movie that used that line?  Probably… oh wait!  The Truman Show!  Tell me you’ve seen the Truman show… hang on, I’m Youtube-ing…

I’m actually kind of impressed with myself for remembering where that was from.  I’m usually that person that will be talking about movies with someone and they’ll say, “Have you seen _____?” and I’ll be like, “Um….. maybe?”.  I never remember titles.  I also tend to forget actors/actresses names unless they’re like fantastic (Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep anyone?), so a conversation gets a little sticky quite quickly when you combine the two together.  It typically goes something like this:

Me: “Have you seen that movie… oh I can’t remember what it’s called.  It’s the one with the guy… oh crap… That guy with the hair?  You know, he was in that other movie?  The one where there’s a big misunderstanding (aka every movie ever made!).”

Yeah… it doesn’t go over well.

I think it’s genetic.

I know, I know, blame the genes.  But seriously though, I grew up mostly with my grandma because my parents worked, and she was the champion of “the thing”.  You spend enough time with her and you learn to read her mind at least a little, or you’d get a seriously riled grandma on your hands.  And if anyone knows my grandma, you don’t want a seriously riled grandma on your hands.

“Get me that thing, from the place over there.  No not that thing! The other thing! The one next to the big thing with the grey stuff on top!”

Like I said, genetic.

That was like the other day in the truck with my boyfriend… I was trying to explain the defectiveness of my thermos and justifying it by the fact that two different people tried to open it but couldn’t.  In the end we destroyed the rim on it because we got so desperate to open it that we tried to open it with a jar opener.  Anyways, I couldn’t remember the word jar opener, so I said can opener… but I totally knew that wasn’t it.  I did get it eventually, but it took longer than it should.

Side note:  those jar openers are handy, aren’t they?!  I mean, it didn’t work on my thermos, it just destroyed it. But that thermos is just evil. For other jars they’re great!

Double side note:  I’m not totally hopeless.  I don’t forget everything.  Just had to be clear on that.

Moving on.

So something major happened since we last chit-chatted:

It was my birthday!

Yay!

Remember this post?  I started it off by being oh so convincing and telling you it was my birthday.  Guess what?  I’m doing it again!

IMG_3199Actually, I’m not.  It was my birthday!  That right there is an awesome peanut butter birthday cake, stuffed with peanut butter chips, frosted in peanut butter frosting, and decorated with mini peanut butter cups.  It’s a plethora of peanut butter!  And I didn’t even have to make it myself, because someone gets me! This is the corner slice, aka the best slice, because it has the most frosting and the most peanut butter-ness.  Win.

And I was spoiled.  I was treated to the most amazing massage at the spa, which was so needed because I kind of suck at self care, as most eating disordered people do, and I have such a hard time sitting and relaxing.  I had this pesky knot in my shoulder, which had been bugging me for at least a month, and now it’s gone.  And I’m like…

polar bear butt1

Oh yeah…..

Then there was a homemade panini lunch, followed by the aforementioned cake, a slice of which ended up in my face…

Side note:  Apparently this is a semi-common tradition?  It was a new one for me…

Add on a gorgeous apron from London, and a beautiful scarf, and you have me completely spoiled.  And of course this brings up an all too common eating disorder emotion:  guilt.

Why do we engage in eating disordered behaviours?

Guilt.

Why do we restrict when we eat a forbidden food?

Guilt.

Why do we suck at self care?

Guilt.

Why are we always keyed up and can’t relax?

Guilt.

Why are we afraid of certain foods?

Guilt.

Why are we so secretive, and don’t want to include other people in our struggles, or open up?

Guilt.

What keeps us stuck in our eating disordered ways?

Guilt.

I swear you’d be hard pressed to find someone with an eating disorder who doesn’t struggle with a guilt complex.  In my experience it is the most pervading emotion that finds its way into every nook and cranny of my life, and it would actually be a challenge to find a moment in my day where I’m not feeling guilty about something.

Guilty about sitting and relaxing instead of “being productive” and doing work.

Guilty about living with my grandmother for a time and helping her to stay in her house for as long as possible, while others claimed I was “sponging off of her”.

Guilty about living at home with my Mom and contributing as much as I can to household expenses, while once again other people claimed I was “taking advantage”.

Guilty about being lactose intolerant and needing the more expensive soy milk.

Guilty about dropping out of school multiple times and not “living up to my full potential”, disappointing others.

Guilty about being the one to pick an activity when spending time with friends or family, because of the chance that they might not enjoy it, or be bored.

Guilty about the amount of carbs I’ve eaten today.

Guilty about the lack of vegetables I’ve eaten today.

Guilty about that slice of cake.

Guilty about opting for a burger instead of a salad.

Guilty about adding a flavour shot to my latte.

Guilty about being so “indulgent”.

Guilty about spending money on new clothes, even though my assignment from both the doctor and dietitian is to gradually replace my whole wardrobe with clothes that I can’t associate with a certain weight and fit before recovery.

Guilty about being on exercise restriction, and relying on others to drive me around.

Guilty about being inflexible and/or anxious at times when it comes to food and certain food related behaviours.

Guilty about doing the opposite, not paying attention to my eating disordered behaviours and not being so rigid, thus obviously overdoing it and being a gluttonous pig (although apparently I’m the only one that thinks that when I relax I overdo it…)

Guilty about being something other than perfect.

Perfect at recovery.  Perfect at anorexia.  Perfect daughter.  Perfect student.  Perfect at eating “clean” or “healthfully”.  Perfect friend.  Perfect girlfriend.  Perfect caregiver.  Perfect body.  Perfect shape.  Perfect weight.  Perfect size.  Perfect plan for success.

Having everything perfectly under control and perfectly planned out.

Needless to say, perfection is impossible.  Perfection is unattainable.  Perfection is limiting, and it’s black and white.  Perfection is not reality.

Perfectionism and guilt, not always but often, go hand in hand.  They both live in the land of black or white, good or bad, all or nothing, and as such one influences the other heavily.

Pick a burger —–> Judgement:  There are so many healthier choices! (aka not the perfect choice) —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, self indulgent, lazy, and lacking willpower and drive —–> guilt and shame for making that decision and for being the person I am

Choose to leave school —–> Judgement (self inflicted or heard): Wasting life, too stupid to stick it out, was going to fail anyways —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, stupid, lazy, self indulgent, and lacking willpower and drive —–> guilt and shame for making that decision and for being the person I am

Pick an activity that others seem uninterested in after the fact —–> Judgement: The activity bores them, even though I enjoy it.  Therefore I’m boring and stupid for enjoying it.  There are other things I should be more interested in doing. —–> Not perfect= completely wrong, selfish, self indulgent, lazy, and lacking willpower, drive, and interest —–> guilt and shame for making that decision, and for being the person I am

Need I go on?

You could pick any of the scenarios listed, or create your own.  Realize what process is going on in your head:

Decision/Action —-> Judgement (self inflicted/heard from others) —-> Emotion

which ultimately leads to some behaviour positive or negative to cope with or manage said emotion.  And let’s be clear also on the judgement stage: The judgement can be heard from others, but ultimately it comes down to you taking on the judgement and claiming it for yourself as truth.  Ever heard the saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”?  Yeah, it’s true.  But that doesn’t make it easy to not adopt the judgments that you hear around you.

Guilt is a difficult emotion because it’s sticky and uncomfortable.  I’m not saying that no one has difficulty coping with joy, because I have met people that struggle to be okay with being happy.  Although, in my experience, oftentimes people struggle with being happy because they feel guilty about feeling happy.  It’s a judgement of an emotion.  Oh wait!!! I forgot to mention, you can totally flip that equation:

Emotion—-> Judgement (self inflicted/heard from others) —-> Decision/Action (coping mechanism potentially)

MIND BLOWN!

Side note: I have this uncanny ability to attempt to turn everything into a mathematical equation similar to the equations above.  X+Y=Z, or if this train was leaving Kansas at this time, then as a result I’m eating sushi in Canada. Yeah, that made no sense.  But there’s probably a mathematical reason for it.

Moving on…

Guilt.  It’s sticky.  Oddly, it’s one of those socially acceptable emotions.  And by socially acceptable, I mean, we’re expected to have it and it’s somewhat praised… at least in the sense of, if you do wrong you should feel guilty about it, so that it prompts you to make amends.  And if you do wrong, and you don’t feel guilty about it, it’s frowned upon.

That whole conscience thing.

And I mean it makes sense.  Like if someone murdered someone, I would hope they’d at least feel a little bit guilty about it.  If we didn’t we’d all be running rampant, looting, stealing, pillaging…

Apparently in my mind we’d all be pirates.

But there’s this whole other side of the coin, this part where you feel guilty in a situation where you have nothing to feel guilty about.  Unjustified guilt.  And as useful as a conscience is, when it comes to unjustified guilt some of us don’t have that filter.

Now, if there is guilt around food, I can pretty much guarantee you it’s unjustified.  Unless you murdered someone by flogging them with a day old baguette, knowingly fed them something that gave them an anaphylactic reaction, or purposely had them choke on a cannoli.  If this is the case, go ahead.  Feel guilty.

But, listening to what you’re craving and eating that, eating something new or different, taking advantage of what is available that is not always there, or sometimes eating past comfortably full don’t qualify as things that you should feel guilty about.

AKA:

Guilt about the amount of carbs eaten = unjustified

Guilt about the lack of vegetables eaten = unjustified

Guilt about a slice of birthday cake = unjustified

Guilt about opting for a burger instead of a salad = unjustified

Guilt about adding a flavour shot to my latte = unjustified

 

Or some typical ones:

Guilt about having seconds just because it tasted that good = unjustified

Guilt about not going for a run after eating Christmas dinner = unjustified

Guilt about adding ice cream to the top of a slice of pie or cookies = unjustified

 

I don’t care if it messes with your macros, adds extra calories, adds extra fat grams, or “goes straight to your thighs” (hint: it doesn’t!), that guilt is still unjustified.  Unless you have a medical condition, like diabetes, that makes counting your sugar grams very important, you should never feel guilty about having a brownie.

With eating disorders, guilt surrounding food or the guilt about not following rituals based around food is a constant issue.  When I was in residential treatment, after every meal we’d have a process time where we were expected to share how we were feeling having completed the meal.  Most of the time, everyone would go around the circle and say, I feel fine, good, bored, tired… and while if you were close to having a mental breakdown you’d often admit to the guilt, often times it was left unsaid.

It wasn’t because we didn’t feel it.  It was because we all were ashamed of having eaten at all, and wanted to ignore it.  We wanted to avoid it.  And we all knew that we felt it, and didn’t need to open up that can of worms.  Once again, I reiterate, if we share how we’re feeling with other people we’re putting our troubles on them, and we feel guilty about it.

Guilt about feeling guilt.  Unjustified guilt sandwich that doesn’t taste near as good as a pb&j.

And I’m not going to say that it’s a bad emotion, because we all know there’s no such thing as good or bad emotions.  They all have their purpose and it’s important to allow yourself to feel it.  It’s just how you try to assuage it that makes it a little more complex.  Most people with an eating disorder will feel so guilty about having eaten that they need to do something to assuage the guilt.  If the guilt was justified, such as the guilt you feel when you hurt someones feelings, it’s a harmless fix.  Say you’re sorry, and the guilt is at least mostly gone.  With unjustified food guilt, this “righting of the wrong” is usually a behaviour, and not a healthy one.

Restriction for the next meal, snack, day, week, etc.

Purging.

Laxatives.

Going for a run… or nine.

Self harm.

Seems ridiculous to those who don’t suffer.  Heck, it seems ridiculous to those of us that do.  We’d never tell someone else to do the things we do… but rules of kindness and self compassion don’t apply to us.  We’re different, of course.

So how do you deal with unjustified guilt?  Specifically unjustified food guilt?

You sit with it.

Oh I’m sorry, did I disappoint you?  I know you were hoping for a miracle pill just like those fat absorbing tablets you can down after your meal to assuage the guilt you feel for a burger from Wendy’s.  Or perhaps you were expecting me to say, “Well, the guilt serves a purpose: is healthier than so the guilt you feel is kind of appropriate.

There is no kind of appropriate.  There is no coming at it half way.  You can’t say, well I’m going to beat my eating disorder, or my disordered eating (because the majority of the world suffers from this) by allowing myself to eat a burger 3 times a week, or a brownie once a month.  Let’s be honest here.  What happens if you’ve already had 3 burgers this week, and then suddenly your boss decides to have a lunch meeting at Smashburger? Or if you happen across an amazing bakery in your travels with these incredible looking brownies that you only have the one occasion to try, but it’s only 23 days since your last brownie?

You’ll find yourself in one of two scenarios:

  1. You “indulge” in the food, either with a normal portioning or to excess because “I’ve already screwed up”, and you feel a profound sense of guilt, shame, and decreased self worth for “being bad” or “lacking willpower”.
  2. You flat out refuse the food, and then spend a large chunk of time feeling unsatisfied and unhappy because you didn’t listen to your craving.  And then potentially this leads to an eventual binge because you’ve deprived yourself.

I don’t know about you, but either scenario sounds rather depressing to me.

pretzelguilt

The Guilt and Deprivation Balance (aka why ED sucks), and a homemade pretzel!  Twas my first time making pretzels… did you know that if you add baking soda to water, it explodes?!  I now know… and so did my completely white stovetop.  But the deliciousness factor was so worth the clean up.

Because, when deprivation is high, your guilt is low.  Sounds good right?

Except you’re deprived.  And no one likes to feel deprived.  No one deserves to feel deprived.  And eventually, and understandably, you will rebel and the balance will flip.

There is zero deprivation (may or may not include a binge), but your guilt is so high, it’s unbearable.  Cue compensatory behaviour.

So how do we even this out?  How do we not make that scale so black and white, guilt or deprivation?

You gotta get rid of the unjustified guilt, THROUGH a lack of deprivation.  So when the guilt is unjustified, you sit with it.  You sit with all of the uncomfortable feelings, the urges to compensate, and the shame that comes alongside of the guilt, until eventually it subsides.  And then you do it again.  You do it over, and over, and over, at high frequency until you no longer feel the unjustified guilt for eating a burger, pizza, or cake.

For me, this has entailed a systematic reintroduction of all my fear foods one at a time, but at a high frequency.  We’re talking EVERY SINGLE DAY, again and again and again, until I’m not only sick of the food, but I AM NO LONGER SCARED OF IT.

Not one or the other.  Both sick of it, AND not afraid of it.

I’ve done this in my previous attempt at recovery, but it was different.  It wasn’t every day the same food, AND I was still allowed to exercise.

Let’s be honest again: this solves nothing.

I’ll eat anything if you allow me to run for three hours afterwards.

So really, when I thought I was no longer afraid of things, that really wasn’t true, because I was always compensating and slowly becoming more and more hooked on exercise.  Until eventually, I was exercising for more than six hours a day, and once again decreasing my intake more and more and more.

AKA: Relapse.

So this hasn’t been comfortable, because for once I’ve actually had to sit with the fears.  Literally sit.  Literally shake.  Literally bawl my eyes out until I have no more tears left in me and I’m severely dehydrated.  I’ve literally had to get my Mom to physically hold me down while I thrashed and kicked and screamed trying to claw my way to the treadmill.  I’ve screamed at myself, called myself vicious and horrible things, and practically clawed my own eyes out.  And my anxiety has been at some record highs.  Duh.

And, here’s the thing:  You can expect a TOTAL MELTDOWN for every food.  Yes, it sucks.  BUT, eventually, it passes.  And eventually it gets easier.  And eventually the fear goes away.  It might take weeks.  Yes, weeks of the same food every day.  But this has also been an occasion to get really creative to keep myself from getting bored.

My first food was… dun, dun, dun… Pizza.  And it took over a week.  So what did I come up with?

pizzacookie1

Breakfast oatmeal pizzookie topped with greek yogurt, peanut butter, bananas and raspberries

IMG_3279

Made up recipe: Apple crumble pizza, with a graham cookie flour (aka ground graham crackers instead of flour 🙂 ), cinnamon cream cheese sauce, toasted pecans, caramelized apples, and a brown sugar butter crumble

IMG_3204

Dessert for Two’s chocolate raspberry almond pizza: melted dark chocolate chip “sauce”, raspberries, toasted coconut and almonds, and a white chocolate drizzle

IMG_3201

Pita pizza, topped with butternut squash purée, chard, onions, crispy chickpeas, a little bit of cheese, and alfredo sauce

IMG_3321

Painting day, and take out greek and chicken pesto pizza

IMG_3325

Polenta pizza crust, topped with black beans, mozzarella, avocado spinach purée, sautéed onions and spinach, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, greek yogurt, and cilantro

IMG_3326

Thin crust pizza topped with a roasted garlic butternut squash purée, kale, sautéed onions, bacon, mozzarella, and alfredo sauce

And since then we’ve moved on to loafs.  Anyone following my instagram will have seen my current fascination with french toasted banilla (aka pumpkin, banana, vanilla bread) from How Sweet Eats.

frenchtoast

And so far, the loaf is taking much more out of me than the pizza… but I have some serious sweet bread issues from the hospital, so that would make sense.  And the rest of my list is long… so I’ll be at this a while. But that’s okay, because you’ll be here to take the journey with me.

And in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

jim-carrey

Ahh Jim Carrey.

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A Slice of Humble Pie: “But I’m Not Small (Sick) Enough…”

***Potential Trigger Warning: Anything and everything can be a trigger. But this is a forewarning, I do get into my own story here and there is as always the potential for comparisons.  It is up to you to decide if you are in a place mentally in this moment to be able to cope with this. If not, be gentle with yourself and respect that. I won’t be offended. There is no shame. ❤ ***

Happy (mirrorless) Monday everyone!

Oh wait, it’s Monday… ahem… I mean, it’s Monday, FML.

Isn’t that the general consensus?  Actually, for me, Monday isn’t horrible. Probably because for me, Monday is my Wednesday and not the start of the work week.  Ah, the joys of being an adult that doesn’t have a Monday to Friday work week!

So I got this really great response to my last post, and not only does that feel incredible and warm and fuzzy and fantastic, but it gives me great ideas for future posts!  See, collaboration, team work… all that jazz makes the world go round!

Or was that peanut butter?

Peanut butter makes the world go round… yeah, that was the saying.  Obviously.

Distracted… moving on.

So when I get positive feedback, I can never understand it.  Someone says, “Wow, your blog post was really powerful!  I learned so much!” and I’m honoured, truly I am, but I’m like, come on, it wasn’t that great…  Or someone says, “You articulate so well!  I’m touched!” and I feel super uncomfortable and squirmy because I don’t take compliments well, and as fantastic as it makes me feel, I’m like, I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish.

 

While some people might call this being humble or modest, it poses a problem. See, often we are taught growing up not to “toot our own horns”, for fear of being perceived as vain or arrogant.  Yes, repetitive self glorification is a problem in its own right if it results in the belief that you are ALWAYS right, or better than everyone else, or worst of all the purposeful diminishment of others.  However, to always take the humble road and not acknowledge your own strengths or accomplishments often leads to many other problems, such as a lowered sense of SELF worth, value, or significance.  AKA, low self esteem, but even more so, a sense of not being good enough or worthy enough of any type of positive reception or caring actions.

Ah, self esteem.

I love (hate) to always come back to you.

Let me translate:

Come on, it wasn’t that great =  I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise

I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish = I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego.

Need I mention that the whole first half of the sentence basically proves that the inflated ego part isn’t very accurate?

Now, it’s not a direct translation- I didn’t write a self esteem dictionary.  But if you peel back all the layers of crap that you’ve built on top of it, that’s basically where you end up:  your core beliefs about yourself.

I believe:

  • I am worthless
  • I am insignificant
  • I am not good enough
  • I am stupid
  • I am ugly
  • I am undeserving of love
  • I am boring
  • I am lazy
  • I am selfish

Whew! What a list.  Now, don’t go getting all concerned and teary eyed for me.  Do I believe all of these things at the same time?  No.  At least, not anymore.  But, do I still struggle with all these thoughts individually at one time or another?  Yes.  Do many of them come up on a daily basis?  Yes.

Do I let these core beliefs about myself dictate everything I say or do? NO!

Not anymore.

I can guarantee you for those who suffer from eating disorders, this list of core beliefs rings true on most if not all points.  You would be hard pressed, if not unable, to find an eating disorder sufferer with good self esteem.  Poor self esteem is like the eating disorder’s peanut butter: it’s what it lives off of, feeds on, and manipulates in order to get you to listen and heed its vicious call.

Except unlike peanut butter, it definitely doesn’t taste delicious.

Here’s the thing: when you feel like crap about yourself, things lose meaning and purpose. You no longer enjoy things you once did.  You want to run away and hide.  You want to cut yourself off from the world, and at the same time find something to fill the void where your positive self should be.  And you’re so desperate to find some way to make yourself feel better, feel happy, feel like you have worth.  You need that! It’s a basic necessity to feel a sense of value, purpose, and worth. The thing is that what enters to fill that space, while tantalizing and seemingly promising, doesn’t fit the bill.

Enter the eating disorder.

Not-Thin-Enough

image source Running with Spoons

I would feel better about myself if I lost 5 lbs…

It didn’t work.  I still feel like shit.  But I’m getting some positive feedback from other people, and that feels good.  So another 10 lbs will work for sure!

My pants just fell off.  But I still am worthless!  I’m still ugly!  If only I could get rid of my muffin top, then that will be enough!  Then I’ll be thin enough that everyone will love me and I will love myself!

What happened?  How did I end up on the floor?  I’m bleeding and I cut open my chin… I don’t remember falling?  Last thing I remember was being on the treadmill… Pinch an inch.  Shit.  That flab is still there.  I need to lose at least another 5 lbs.  5 more lbs and I’ll be done.

Hint:  It’ll never be enough.

I struggle with posts like this one.  I never know whether sharing my own personal struggle in detail will be helpful or triggering.  The eating disorder is based on comparison, and the reality is that comparisons, particularly from a starved and malnourished state are NOT ACCURATE!

Now, let me iterate, STARVED AND MALNOURISHED DOES NOT MEAN UNDERWEIGHT!

It can mean underweight.  It can mean having a body fat percentage so low that your brain can’t function properly.  It can mean that you have whole periods of your life that you don’t remember because your brain didn’t have the energy it needed to create a memory.

I don’t remember the week before I was hospitalized.  I have journals that I wrote that tell me what happened, where I was mentally, and the people that I was with that describe it to me, but in my own head, it’s a black void.  I remember the car ride to my Grandma’s house, and about three quarters of the way there, that’s where the memory stops.  The next thing I remember is lying in a hospital bed with a bowl of soup in front of me- A WEEK LATER!  A WEEK!  I remember nothing.

I don’t remember a few weeks this summer.  I managed to stay out of the hospital.  I remember what I did to do that, deceitful and tricky things before weigh ins that I WON’T list here because I am NOT PRO-ANA.  I remember working, but it’s a blur, a mix of fuzzy images that aren’t a total void like the first time, but still nothing concrete.  I remember using my breaks to exercise, and eating a ton of dry cheerios and carrot sticks.  That’s it.

But that’s me.

As I said, STARVED AND MALNOURISHED DOES NOT MEAN UNDERWEIGHT!

You can be a normal weight, and still be just as sick as someone who is underweight.  You can be a normal weight and still be not eating enough, or purging it, and your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to function.

I repeat.  You can be just as sick as I was.

But regardless of whether you are underweight or overweight or normal weight, your eating disorder will always tell you you are not small, or sick enough to deserve help.

Remember, you are starved, you are deprived, you are malnourished, and your body and brain are not functioning properly.  Your eating disorder is feeding off of your low self esteem, throwing tantalizing, seemingly true ideas at you about the next 5, 10, or 15 lbs you can lose.  Your eating disorder is distorting what you think about yourself, inside, outside, and all over.  You are NOT seeing clearly, you are NOT thinking clearly, and you have such a low opinion of yourself that you take a slice of your humble pie and minimize your suffering.

Come on, it wasn’t that great = I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise

I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish = I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego.

Find your thesaurus:

I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise = I am stupid and insignificant I’m not enough = I’m not small enough = I’m not sick enough

I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego= I am selfish, insignificant, and worthless= I am ugly (as a person) = I’m not pretty enough (external/internal) I’m not thin enough = I’m not sick enough

It all comes down to the same thing. You have low self esteem, you believe the lies the eating disorder says, and you don’t want to appear vain or selfish by admitting that you have a problem or that you need help.  You don’t believe you need it because you can’t see it, because your eating disorder is showing you all the ways in which you are fine, by distorting your perceptions.

This was me, a week before I ended up in the hospital:

Photo on 2012-08-15 at 12.55

I didn’t believe I was thin enough, or sick enough.  I can’t remember anything starting the day after this was taken.

This was me the day I had the soup in the hospital:Photo on 2012-09-02 at 10.57 #2Side note: See those electrodes?  Yeah, they knew my heart could stop at any moment so they wanted to be on top of it.

Double side note:  I still didn’t believe I was thin enough, or sick enough.

This was me this summer:

Photo on 2015-06-14 at 12.34 AM

And believe it or not, there was only about 6, maybe 7 lbs difference between the top picture and this one… baggy clothes cover things up, but they don’t hide everything.

Again:  Still didn’t believe I was thin enough or sick enough.

This is me at this very moment:

Photo on 2016-01-11 at 9.46 AM

Almost weight restored.  Same sweater as above for the win!!

But yet again: Still don’t believe I’m thin enough.  But I do believe I’m sick enough to need help, and to pursue it.

Like I said, I struggle to be this overt with my own story.  I don’t want to encourage comparisons, and that is not the purpose.  The purpose here is an illustration:  It doesn’t matter what picture you pick above, what I see in the mirror is still the same:

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And chances are the next time you look in the mirror, what you see is similar, and it’s not what is there.  It feels like it is, it looks like it is.  It’s as if I we were standing in front of a chair and I’m there trying to tell you that the chair isn’t there.  You don’t believe me, because you can see it.  Dear Lord, I know you can see it!  I can see it too!

But this is the one time that I’m going to be on this site and tell you not to eat!  DON’T TAKE A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE!  Don’t minimize yourself.  Because you are sick enough. You are thin enough.  You are worthy.

And you’re enough.

 

 

It’s Just Not That Simple

Hello all!  Happy New Year, and a belated happy holidays!

*Cough* So I totally fell off the grid… and that pisses me off.  Cause you know, you follow all these blogs, and you look forward to the next post that’s going to hit your inbox.  So you wait, and you wait, and you wait… and then it’s been like a week and a half and you start to get frustrated and annoyed because you’re anticipant right?!  The things about successful blogs are consistency.  Like, they don’t have to post every day, because that has the potential to be annoying, but even if the blogger commits to once a week, or once every two, you know that there’ll be something there every Wednesday, or Friday, or Saturday morning for you to enjoy while eating your baked oatmeal slathered in peanut butter.

So you lose your patience and eventually stop following the blog all together because there’s no commitment. And if you’re going to devote quality oatmeal time, there had better be some dedication from the author too.  I mean, it’s oatmeal time!  It’s valuable.

And then you realize, in all your frustration, that you haven’t updated your own blog in… *grimmace, and cough* over a month.

Oops.

So my reasoning, which isn’t necessarily valid, but it’s the truth, is multi-faceted:

  1. December is like statistically, the crazy month in life.  I mean, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas decorating… and that’s all before Christmas and New Years themselves!
  2. Sitting down (and thus, committing to writing, as it’s a sitting activity) is still such a struggle.  Anyone who suffers from compulsive exercise issues totally knows what I’m talking about.  Considering that it’s been… hang on… 4.5 months-ish, since I was last allowed to exercise, you’d think that it would get easier.  And it’s true, I’m not totally crawling out of my skin anymore, but I’m still on the edge of taking some Trazadone when I know I’m going to be still for a significant period of time.
  3. I started seeing this totally amazing person… and no offence to all of you, but I’m kind of totally okay with that taking up a good chunk of my free time ❤ .
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Need I mentioned that as I was writing this, said amazing person showed up on my doorstep with flowers and a latte just the way I like it. Yeah, be envious, he’s mine.

4.  I’ve been on and off the recovery bandwagon.

Actually, that’s not entirely true… I’ve been 90% on the recovery bandwagon.  But there’s that 10% on average that just throws you, where you want to give up, where you just CAN’T, where you’re curled up in a ball on your floor sobbing, where the food weigh scale is more friendly than trusting your eyeballs, where you choose a carrot stick instead of cake, where you miss a snack, where you lie and say you had something when you didn’t.  Or where you lie by omission.

And those other days, where the ratio flips, where you’re like 10% recovery, and 90% falling apart at the seams (aka me the last three days).  Where everyone around you becomes concerned, and you feel horrible for putting them through the worries and stress, but you feel powerless to stop it.  Where your mom almost has to force feed you your lunch after your doctor’s appointment, where you cry yourself to sleep, where the only thing keeping you off the treadmill is that last shred of willpower and the knowledge that if you put one foot on it, it’s the beginning of the end.

And when you’re struggling, one of the hardest things to do is write a pro-recovery blog, because when you’re that low, when you’re almost but not quite suicidal, you would feel like a total fraud to tell someone to pursue the freedom of recovery when you can’t find the point yourself.

You all know what I mean.  Chances are if you’ve gone through the recovery process, you’ve been there.

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Image source RecoveryWarriors

One of the biggest questions I get, phrased in one way or another, is

“When are you going to give it up?”

“Are you ready to stop starving yourself now?”

“Mind over matter.  Just do it!”

“Don’t you understand what this puts me through?  Why are you doing this to me?”

“Don’t make me worry about you!”

“Isn’t it about time you started focussing on something else, moving on with your life?”

The odd thing, is that I could keep going for ages.  All the questions, all the interrogations, all the eye rolls, all the sighs, all the begging and pleading, all of the simplicity.  It all comes down to the same question:

“Are you done yet?”

Answer:  It’s just not that simple.

These questions bring up a host of emotions.  Guilt: Do you think I want to cause you mental anguish?  Shame: Why can’t I just be normal? What kind of a person is actually afraid of food? Fear: If I don’t change, will you give up on me?  Will you leave?  Anxiety: Why are you asking me this question in front of a plate of lasagna?! Lonely: You don’t understand… and I can’t make you.  The only way you’d truly understand is if you experienced it, and I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy. Frustrated: I’m tired of it too! Disgust: With self and with others- it’s not that simple, and why can’t it just be that simple?! Sad: Your impatience, and/or concern makes me sad that I can’t live up to what you desire for me and for yourself. Angry: It’s just not that simple!

I’ve seen a thousand and a half blog posts that rant about how eating disorders are NOT a choice.  And it’s 100% true- you don’t choose to have an eating disorder any more than you choose to have high blood pressure, or heart disease.  And I commend those who speak out against the stereotype.  But, I do not want this to turn into another rant about how modern society disregards the severity of eating disorders, chalks them up as first world problems, female problems, or choices, forgetting that they’re mental health conditions with a high mortality rate.  We know it happens.  The bush is beaten, the horse is flogged, we’ve run that one into the ground.  Let’s move on.

Let’s focus on recovery.  Let’s focus on the process of letting go.  Let’s look at WHY it’s not so simple.  Why is it not a choice?  Why can’t I just do mind over matter, and banish the eating disorder from my vision, peripheral and central.

Answer: It doesn’t leave, and it plays with you. It’s always there, and sometimes it’s so loud that you can’t ignore it. You wake up in the morning, never knowing if it’s going to be a good day or a bad one, and you never know if, or when, or what is going to set it off.

Sometimes it’s simple.  Take just before New Years, for example, when I somehow forgot to take my anti-anxiety medication for 5 days in a row.  Legitimately forgot because I somehow managed to miss putting it in with all my vitamins (yay zinc!) for the week.  Needless to say, there were multiple ED breakdowns, some very vicious words thrown around (sorry Mom!), and a lot of food freak outs.  Simple cause, simple fix: take your meds!

Sometimes, it’s not that easy of a fix.  Meds help, but they don’t fix the problem.  Sometimes, the trigger can be so small you don’t even realize it until it’s too late.

You wake up, and roll over in bed and your hand accidentally touches your stomach, and in that instant, you realize that you can no longer feel the groove of your intestine (yes, I’m serious), and suddenly you freak out.  You’re huge, you’re worthless, you need to go for a run, you need to miss breakfast, or a snack, or both.  You need dry lettuce instead of a sandwich.

You walk by a mirror, and catch a glimpse of yourself.  Does that shirt look tighter than it did two days ago?  Suddenly you see your chipmunk cheeks, your thunder thighs, and your almost overweight body staring back at you.

Someone tells you their New Years Resolution is to lose 30 lbs, though they look perfectly great the way they are, and you start to compare.  Are her thighs bigger than mine?  No… well if she has to lose thirty, I have to lose at least 50.

Someone talks about their run, or their diet, or how bad carbs are for you, and suddenly you find yourself living off of kale wraps and throwing stevia in everything instead of sugar and doing laundry in 80 trips to the basement instead of 2…

These are all triggers.  We know triggers.  We anticipate triggers.  We plan for triggers, and work on coping skills so that when eating disordered behaviour urges arise as a result, we can do something instead of engaging in a behaviour.

But as much as we plan for triggers, as much as we know that the behaviour goes against recovery, as much as we know that we’re setting ourselves back by engaging in these negative cycles, sometimes, YOU JUST CAN’T STOP.

They tell you not to calorie count.  You try your best.  But you wake up and start making your breakfast and without you even trying, your brain starts adding the numbers:

One egg: 70

1 tbsp peanut butter: 100

1/3 c rolled oats: 105

I’ll stop there.  I didn’t have to look these things up.  I didn’t have to use a fancy calculator like MyFitnessPal.  The numbers just came to me without me even trying.  The numbers are engrained. You don’t struggle for three years without having them memorized.  And in the time it takes to add an ingredient to the bowl, I know exactly how much is in there, especially if I happened to use a measuring cup or spoon, a behaviour that I can often quell but still haunts me more often than I would like.

They tell you not to equate your food with your movement.  They take away the treadmill, the stair stepper, or the jogging shoes.  And it’s tough.  And you go through withdrawals that are much the same to those of a drug addict.  No, I’m not even kidding.  My mom can vouch for the amount of times I’ve sat, shaking on the couch, so paralyzed by terror and intense urges to strap on the Nikes that it’s taking literally everything out of me.  Where you get a glazed look in your eyes because you’re so lost in your head that you can’t even be present in the room.

But the thing about food and exercise addictions, be it an addiction to gorging yourself or to restricting yourself, is that unlike an alcoholic, you can’t get rid of your fix.  You can’t go without food, and you can’t go without movement.  I can’t elect to not shovel my driveway in the winter, or rake my leaves in the fall.  I can’t choose to never vacuum the house.  I can’t choose to not do laundry, because my laundry machine’s location gives me a few stair steppers.  I can’t change the distance between different places at work any more than I can change the amount of times I have to go to the back to get something as opposed to staying out front.  I can’t elect to never eat again, or that will end just as poorly as it started.

In addition, we live in a world where restriction, deprivation, and intense physical activity is glorified and adored, and where the worst possible thing you could ever be is overweight or fat.  One who manages to go for a 7 km run every day is praised, while one who elects that they are tired decide to honour that by not pushing themselves that day are condemned.  Similarily, if we can find yet another way to use cauliflower instead of flour to make a typically carb-laden dish, we are regarded as “healthy” and “clean” and are glorified, regardless of the fact that it tastes nothing like the original, and quite often is a flavourless pile of mush. Those who decide to listen to their burger cravings and eat an actual beef burger with cheese, better do it in secret, or claim that this was a “cheat” day rather than admit that they actually like something that tastes good.  Because how dare you!?

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So for those in recovery from an eating disorder of any sort, or exercise obsession, the task becomes not to behave like the norm, but rather to do the opposite.  And not only is this met with resistance by the sufferer, but also by those around them who buy into the current diet mentality, clean eating epidemic, or exercise craze.  Often times, the same people who ask you “Are you done (with your eating disorder) yet?” are the same people that discourage you from sitting and watching a movie instead of going for a hike, or look on disapprovingly when you order fries instead of a side salad.  They are the same people who tell you about the next 10 lbs they have to lose, or the latest findings about how butter or bacon is basically slow acting arsenic.

I don’t know, am I done yet?  Or, rather, are YOU done yet?

I’m not trying to be ungrateful.  I’m not trying to condemn those who care enough about someone to even ask or be concerned about where they are at and where they are going.  And I’m not trying to minimize the pain that caregivers, families, and friends go through alongside the one suffering from an eating disorder. I’m not trying to create a bully, scapegoat, demon, or antagonist to the recovery process.  I’m not trying to blame.

But what I am trying to do is show a myriad of factors that make recovery, and the recovery process not that simple.

Because you’re right.  In the end, it does come down to mind over matter.  But considering the eating disorder is a disease of the mind, it’s kind of difficult to put your mind OVER anything.  Your mind is a little unreliable.

I know I shouldn’t fear pasta… but I still do.

I know I shouldn’t condemn a cookie… but I still do.

I know that I’ve been to rehab, outpatient, relapse, and outpatient again… but I’m still struggling.

I know that I hide it well… but every bite is still hard.

I know that I enjoy watching a movie… but every 10 seconds a little voice beats me up telling me I could be doing so much more.

I know that I could have died multiple times, that I’m lucky I didn’t… but I can’t just stop.

And if you think that that knowledge doesn’t piss me off, doesn’t frustrate me to all ends, and doesn’t make me feel so ridiculous when I try to explain that I’m crying over a piece of bread, then think again.

I know how to fight it, but sometimes I just can’t.  Sometimes the fear, the anxiety, the stress, the guilt, the shame, the unknown, and the power of the eating disorder voice is too much.

And that’s okay too.  Because that’s the reality of recovery.  You have slips, you fall, you take 10 steps back, followed by a giant leap forward.

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

I’ve heard once that on average, the time taken for eating disorder recovery (not full, not completely voiceless, but rather the true ability to choose not to engage and not to listen and not to focus on eating disordered things and just act and eat normally) takes 7 years.  7 YEARS!  And that’s without a significant relapse… i.e., if you have a significant relapse, as I did, you can start your clock again.

And that’s not meant to depress you.  It’s not meant to make you feel like it’s hopeless.  It’s not meant to make you give up.  Rather, it’s meant to empower you and educate you.

If you’re the person asking, “Are you done yet?”, perhaps this shows you how difficult it is, how long it takes, and how crucial it is to not minimize the process.

If you’re the one being asked, “Are you done yet?”, perhaps this makes you realize that no, chances are you’re not, but that’s okay.  And you don’t need to feel ashamed for not being able to just put mind over matter and give it up the same way that one gives up chocolate for lent.  Don’t minimize yourself, your struggle, or your process.  Don’t be ashamed for being exactly where you’re at.  Don’t be ashamed for crying over a slice of bread.  And don’t be ashamed that you’re struggling.

Because it’s just not that simple.