I see a pattern emerging in my writing.
I write (blog not creative writing) when I am struggling – really struggling. But I also write when I am trying to process what is going on/process my thoughts.
And so it is that I write today on what has been a very difficult day.
I can feel myself slipping in quite a few ways. Slipping in my eating, slipping in my sleeping and therefore the clarity of my mind and slipping in terms of my motivation for life and the things which are about life.
I think I realised over the past few weeks that weight gain just may be the easiest part of ‘recovery’. I touched upon it in another post. I said that recovery is mainly about learning to live again and reclaiming your mind. It is the latter which I am struggling most with which inevitably affects my ability and sometimes desire to live and thrive in life. When I say live, I don’t mean staying alive so much as I mean getting involved with life.
I have found the process of eating over the past month and a half pretty difficult for 2 reasons:
- I tend to feel more down when I eat and when I feel full
- I have had to attempt eating alone quite a lot over the past three weeks.
Time for some HONESTY
If I cannot be honest with myself then who can I be honest with?
My eating has been abysmal over the past month and a half. It started with a very bad day with my thoughts and emotions which led to a complete shutting down of my stomach and the complete absence of hunger. For a while, I tried to eat in spite of this and with the support of my brothers, seemed to make some progress over Christmas which helped me sleep better. But then Christmas came and went just like my hunger, again. So I went from making myself have something, anything, to allowing myself to miss a meal here and there because I was not hungry. And finally and the thing which concerns me most is that even on the limited occasions when I have felt hungry, I have either ignored it or recognised it but still not responded to it.
I think what I have noticed is the old disordered thoughts around food/body image/preoccupation with weight/body checking starting to reemerge.
I have tried to combat it by adding in things which I am not inclined to eat like chocolate and today (a Bakewell tart) just for the heck of it to remind my mind that there is nothing to fear when it comes to food. I don’t think I fear the effects of food on my body so much as I fear the effects of food on my mind. One feels like an eating disorder and the other feels more like disordered eating but perhaps this is simply semantics.
The other thing I have noticed is my increasing reliance on exercise to keep my mood stable. Most professionals say, ‘it’s great that you’re exercising. It can really boost your serotonin levels.’ What they don’t seem to understand or perhaps acknowledge is that for someone with a history of exercising until the point of not being able to walk, it is not a good thing. It is a dangerous sign. I know it. And I know that my mind will demand more and more of me and my body in this respect. I need to learn to take a break from exercise and not to wait until injury strikes for me to do so.
Bottom line – I need to sort this out.
Eating Disorders are simply a distraction from a bigger issue
I realised a long time ago, many years ago that I feared my own thoughts so much that I chose the devil I knew. ‘Better the devil I knew than the one that scared the shit out of me’, I thought. Now, I know that all this approach did was to delay the inevitable and rob me of time with loved ones. I think that is what pains me most about all that has happened over the past two plus decades. I missed out on quality time with the people I love.
Weight gain is the start of the journey not the end of the journey
At the point at which I decided to choose recovery and stopped purging, I realised how much I struggled with worry. Constant worry and panic. It is something which has become more heightened since I dropped my old coping mechanism.
Weight restoration is a bitch. Don’t get me wrong. The effects on one’s body, especially if you go for the ‘my body will settle where it bloody well wants to settle’ approach can be pretty horrific at times. But, when your weight is restored and your brain is able to function better (which is not always the case when you struggle with depression), then you might be in a better place to get involved in life and the business of living again.
Having one’s body and brain function restored can bring forth feelings of regret about time lost or spent in the ED. It might also bring challenges in terms of interacting with others (which can be a challenge when you have spent so long isolating yourself or avoiding others), returning to employment (i am still not reconciled with this one), learning how to deal with the normal stresses of life in a way which does not return you to ill health (physically or mentally), having intimate relationships with a partner/spouse, finding confidence in yourself again, learning to make decisions and dealing with the anxieties which likely landed you in the ED in the first place.
These challenges as well as those related to discarding the ED (eating regularly, challenging negative body image issues, being flexible around food etc) can make life feel more challenging in recovery than it ever did when you had an eating disorder.
I guess what I struggle with most is the thought that restoring my weight is like climbing a tenth of the way up Mount Kilimanjaro, thinking that I am at the summit and then looking up and realising that I am just 10% of the way there.
I know that I have to deal with grief, social interaction, depression and the link between my mind and my body.
I know I still have a long way to go but boy is this shit tiring.
I think the thing I realised today after another night of three hours sleep is that when I feel overwhelmed by life, I tend to react by driving myself even harder. It only results in a breakdown and I can see what is happening.
I am lucky enough to be receiving some support which I might talk about in another post. Having this support today meant I was able to say what was going on, be honest with myself and try to thing about the best way forwards.
I can see what is going on. My job now is to do something about it. That feels like the toughest part given my indecisiveness. But, I feel like the alternative (slipping back into the eating disorder) is like wrapping yourself in a sleeping blanket which is so old, worn and tattered that it offers you zero protection from the cold.