Frustrating Person I Encountered Today!

I get it. Yes, some of your limitations truly are all in your head. And yes, sometimes the “professionals” actually make things worse by making you think that something is wrong with you when in fact it is all in your mentality and your thought process.

THAT SAID….

I despise the mentality that it is up to you and your thinking to heal yourself of everything. Yes, good, shoot for the stars, think anything is possible, know you have the power within yourself, believe that you can change no matter what the past was like. But christ, some problems are actually REAL, and if you just met me approximately 90 minutes ago and then spent the next 90 minutes telling me stories about how people, after “working with you” for 3 minutes, were suddenly no longer limited and doing things they thought they’d never be able to do, and then tell me my problems are all just a result of a broken mind and that you can fix ME in 3 minutes too, after 15 years of all kind of hell, and then you DO NOTHING other than suggest we meet again a few times, for a small fee, you are full of SHIT.

I am talking about someone who is a fitness trainer, and who also apparently believes he can replace (1) my therapist (2) my dietitian (3) my chiropractor and (4) my doctor. I’m not inferring he believes this. He indicated as such. I went to him because I wanted someone to show me some exercises to help strengthen my glutes to alleviate some of my IT band issues. Instead, I got 90 minutes of a man telling me my father was not adequately supportive and that I needed to buy herbs in capsule form from the health food store, and that the most dietitians only know the food pyramid, and that I have poor self esteem. Well, whose father actually WAS adequately supportive? Maybe like 12% of the population if that? And who DOESN’T have self esteem challenges? Sadly, this basket of garbage would sell so easily to someone who hasnt had approximately 3,452 therapy sessions over the past few years.

How are these people not in jail, but instead out in the world, doing damage to people who are pulled in by the sales pitch of “your skepticism is keeping you sick”?

Anyway I’m horrified. {/END RANT}

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Sugar, All the Sugar

I haven’t had the heart to blog lately, but I still check in on several that I am following. I don’t know why I have not wanted to share my thoughts, but I suspect that I am probably avoiding the feelings that come with them. I am struggling with several things right now that so much feel like they are about my appearance. I hate that, because there is so much more to my life than how I look, and yet I get so mentally and emotionally exhausted with the amount of energy I direct towards worrying about not looking the way I would prefer to look.

Point One: My Skin. I have been picking excessively, and worrying about this odd rash that keeps appearing, disappearing, reappearing. I have spent entirely too much time on the internets trying to figure out what this could be, have decided and undecided and decided again that it is a yeast overgrowth (fake illness alert!), then resolved to leave it alone and gone back to slathering 18 different products on it In the meantime I’ve picked at areas on my chin and chest and created future lifetime scars. This is an OCD tendency of mine and I absolutely hate it so much. It tends to get worse when my restriction gets better. Which brings me to….

Point Two: Sugar. I decided a month or so back to allow myself to start eating ice cream daily again. I had lost some weight and was really starting to look haggard. This is an improvement because earlier in my ED I actually liked looking sick. This time, it was getting a bit gross. But that has escalated into really large bowls nightly plus a block of chocolate. It grosses me out now. I know it isn’t good for me considering it has displaced what used to be a high protein night snack before bed. I don’t know how to handle this. I know my body probably wants the calories and I know all the proper ‘sensible’ things to reduce the cravings and the uncontrollable feelings I have around sugar. I’ve talked to my RD at length and she wants me to incorporate more protein earlier in the day, and thinks that will help. Of course I know this, I know the reasons I am probably driven to eat so much sugar late at night, and I know the underlying truth is that I still need to gain even more weight before my body will be where it ‘wants’ to be. I’m at the ‘minimally healthy’ place now though, and I want to stay there. Yes of course I know I don’t get to pick my body’s healthy place, and that I am not helping myself by insisting on hanging on to the control. At this point I feel I have so much less ‘willpower’ to make a change though, so my anorexia has a worthy foe, finally, which is my inability to skip the sugar at the end of the day. For someone who has been really ‘good’ (I know I know) at restricting for like 15 years, this is very very difficult to deal with. Also, my knee is jacked, and my running is derailed, so I am dealing with a trainwreck of ED headspace, on top of feeling ugly because my skin looks so awful.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. There’s other stuff going on in my life, work stuff, dating stuff. But these things are what is filling up the space behind my eyeballs.

LIEBSTERARIOUSNESS

I have been traveling and while it was all a great adventure, I am so happy to be back home. I spent the morning relishing the opportunity to clean my house, sip coffee from an actual mug (not styrofoam) on the sofa, and just generally have no agenda. And it is time for me to reply to these questions which were posited by Chelsey and  Em.

  1. What is your favorite food? ICE CREAM, unless WHISKEY counts as food?
  2. What is something you have always wanted to try? Living a life without rules.
  3. What is your favorite hobby? Ugh…either running or drinking whiskey? that is a loaded answer that suggests some issues I need to work on. Horses, but I can’t afford that one consistently.
  4. What is your biggest pet peeve? AHHH BABIES ON AIRPLANES. Sorry, I try to be empathetic, but for this one it is a real challenge.
  5. Where are you from? I was born out of my mother’s womb onto the planet Earth.
  6. Where is your dream vacation? Anywhere abroad and new as long as it isn’t too cold, and as long as ED stays the f#ck home.
  7. What is the last picture you took with your phone? BABY ELK
  8. What food do you hate the most? BANANAS and that one is easy and definite. Bananas are gross, and I don’t want to talk about it.
  9. If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up? my common sense, I don’t use it anyway
  10. If you were stranded in jungle somewhere and could only bring one item, what would it be? an iPhone so I could log into Amazon, and order some stuff for delivery by drone. I like the idea of a jungle but I’d definitely need some stuff.
  11. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy? OOOOoooh a horse farm where I could live a life of equestrian luxury. Hang on I need to pause now to run out and buy a ticket.
  1. What inspired you to get into blogging?Honestly I stumbled on Hayley’s blog and started roaming from there. I found the some of the blogs I was reading were more helpful and motivating in terms of recovery than some of the years (and years and years) of therapy and treatment I’ve received. I also listened to a podcast by the young yet wise Maddy Moon about the benefits of blogging in recovery and was inspired. I started this blog to help myself first and foremost, because I am still struggling with my ED. I hate ‘journaling’ but somehow this feels different and less like something I have to do.
  2. How did you come up with the title for your blog? I had just been thinking about how recovery allows a real person to emerge from the anorexia. Anorexics, while in the disease, are basically all clones of the same boring template. They think what they are doing is so special and secret but it isn’t; so many of the thoughts and behaviors are identical from person to person. It is only through recovery that our actual personhoods can start to emerge and shine. Despite what ED says to the contrary, anorexia is not at all something that makes you special- it is truly just so boring. Recovery is interesting.
  3. Do you have any pets? If so, what kinds and what are their names? Oh yes, I have a dog who is my child. He is a big ball of fluff but he prefers to remain anonymous for the time being.
  4. What is your favourite quote today? I don’t really store quotes in my brain. I think quotes are a big thing on instagram? But I don’t instagram. You can probably just insert any lyrics from any Smiths song to answer this question. Lets go with this: Oh, I say:
    Some girls are bigger than others
    Some girls are bigger than others
    Some girl’s mothers are bigger than
    Other girl’s mothers
  5. If you had a superpower what would it be? Fearlessness
  6. Who is your favourite author/writer/journalist? This is impossible to answer. I really like Stephen King, but not so much the horror stuff as the Dark Tower series. I also love a lot of classics, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Moore, god this question could be just another blog entirely. I read obsessively. Can I go back to the hobby question and insert reading?
  7. What is your favourite poem? I don’t really care much for poetry. Mostly it annoys me.
  8. What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? I can’t answer that but I just got back from the Rocky Mountain National Park and it was beautiful. Here are some photos!  (I don’t know how to do photos on this, does anyone have any tips to make this look less weird?? Also, the man on the horse in the back of the pack was a park ranger in CO whose job is riding trains of pack mules through RMNP. I tried to chase him down and catch him because I think he is meant to be my husband and soulmate. Does anyone know him? If so can you please tell him he needs to call me so we can get on with things?)   018007025  030
  9. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live? See #8. Or at the beach.
  10. Do you have a favourite art-work or museum/gallery? Not really. I am not well-versed in visual arts, though I do appreciate them.
  11. Favorite sport to watch on television? Hockey, or equestrian (though I dont have cable, so I don’t really get to see equestrian sports on tv except for the races, which aren’t really my thing.)

Phew! That was a lot of questions. Probably not tons of fun for others to read, but interesting to answer.

Response Pending

I was nominated for this Liebster Award thing by fellow kickass bloggers Chelsey and Emma and at first I responded with something along the lines of “Cool! Thanks!” and then went about my day. I just now realized I was supposed to actually do something in response to the nominations (answer some questions, link back, and spread the blog love for other bloggers), so I will get to that as soon as I can. It may take me a day or two or ten to get to it, but I will do it.

This Liebster thing isn’t just a lovefest but a tool to spread awareness about other bloggers with similar interests, and that is something I want to support.

Stay tuned, and thanks ladies for the nomination!

This Sucks

I have been given an assignment by my RD to do things differently over the next 2 weeks, when we meet again. This feels impossible. But making one tiny change at a time (one per infrequent appointment) is not getting me anywhere, after years and years and years. If I was actually following through, maybe there’d be some progress-but even then not much. As it stands I never follow through.
I don’t want to change ANYthing, and I really need to change EVERYthing. I went to the grocery store yesterday for the weekly stock up and my ‘change’ was to go backwards through the store. I usually start in produce, fill the cart with veggies, and then pick up a few other items (like diet coke, fake sugar, a couple pots of the lowest calorie yogurt I can find, and cough syrup to which I am apparently addicted because I can’t sleep without a dose.) I don’t think this is the type of change she meant-I know we were talking about a real food change. I don’t want to discredit this effort on my part to do something different, but I know it is not enough. And here we are, Day Two, and I don’t think I have any change in me.
I am so so stuck. My weight isn’t ‘critical’ and hasn’t been for some time. My BMI is too low, but it’s not inpatient low anymore. I don’t get a period, but I just saw my doctor and all my other vitals/labs/etc are ok (well, my heartrate is a bit low, but otherwise everything is good.) I eat the same thing today that I ate yesterday and the day before and last year and two years ago. Its Groundhog Day with food, minus Bill Murray. The number of calories in Groundhog Day is enough to keep me alive and fuel my runs and my highly cerebral job; I can no longer afford to do the severe restriction of my younger days of anorexia because I have to pay the mortgage and show up every day and generally Take Care of Adult Shit, so I present this fake life of productive, insightful, intelligent, high-powered, highly functional, AND thin (but not scary thin; more like somewhere between Hollywood thin and endurance athlete thin, so as to protect the illusion). I seem to have it all, but it is a house of cards, and the cards are made from deprivation and rigid control.
I don’t know how to change. Baby steps? Radical overhaul? Something in between? I don’t know how to change the patterns. My life structure is entirely built on the scaffolding of diet/fitness and removing those things feels like total personal demolition. I don’t know where to start.

Stand for Something/ Intentional Choices

When you set your mind to maintaining a weight that isn’t right or natural for you, it is really hard to find the mental, physical, or emotional energy to pursue, or even consider, other goals and interests. This concept is nothing new in the recovery community; many people talk about trying out new artistic pursuits, or cooking (All the Food Blogging), or non-competitive exercise like yoga. But while I do see plenty of discussion about developing new interests and hobbies in recovery, and I do of course support these pursuits and think they are important, I don’t see nearly as many conversations about reconnecting with core beliefs about life, the meaning of it all, and what is really important.
I’ve realized lately how much my own anorexia has disconnected me from any internal conversations with myself about what I am doing with my life, and what purpose my life actions are advancing. What is really important to me? Weight loss (and maintenance at a non-ideal-for-me weight) at any cost translates to a list that includes all of the following:
1. Lose weight and don’t gain any weight
2. Do things with food and exercise that make the above happen
That’s basically it. There isn’t room for anything else. #1-2 above is a full time job, nights and weekends included, with an asshole of a boss and no days off.
I think one motivating factor in recovery, one Reason, has grown out of awareness of what a waste this is, and how incongruous it is with what I really want my life to be. It seems like God is a really common theme in this way for others. I’m not a Christian and will never subscribe to any religion, but morality and goodness and love are still just as critically important to me. I want my list to grow out of these things, out of love and connection.
If I am honest enough to confront what the disease is doing to my Life Focus, I have to get real about the fact that I have been focused only on singular, self-centered, and ultimately worthless pursuits. Nothing about a lifestyle of anorexia or EDNOS advances what I want to put on my list. I’ve had a lot of ‘rock bottoms’ with my illness, but I think confronting this reality might be my metaphysical rock bottom. It’s painful and easier to avoid (an in steps restriction, exercise, and those stupid rules I never intended to make; these things are great at facilitating avoidance aren’t they?)
I need a new list. And once I have one, I need to examine ALL of my actions to determine if they either (1) advance the cause of my living with meaningful purpose or (2) do not. It’s either 1 or 2. If I could just manage to examine each choice as life presents them to me, recovery should be easy. The hard part is slowing down enough to know when a choice is in front of me. (Ironically, I think malnourishment has made it so much harder for me to recognize when I am actually making a choice; it’s the timeless anorexia chickens vs. anorexia eggs.)
I will start working on my list.

WIAW My Way

It appears that WIAW is the thing to do ’round here. I’m not quite ready to start photographing my pints and nut butters, as is the fashion. But I did snap a photo, in the store today, of the back of a box of Special K cereal, which exclaimed “Willpower!” as some sort of advertisement for eating nothing but cereal as a healthy means to lose weight so you can finally love yourself, apparently. Anyway, I tried to post it to the Special K facebook page with #fuckoffKelloggs, but I guess Kellogg’s has some sort of magic powers to prevent facebook anti-friends from expressing anything other than crispy rice-flavored love for their brand online. Oh well, it still made me feel good and now I have a new favorite hashtag.

#FUCKOFFKELLOGS

and also: #genericspecialkforeva

The Rules that I Never Intended to Make

I’ve been mentally exploring the idea of changing, again. How does one tackle changing habits, rituals, and routines around food and exercise that have the advantage of years of practice and repetition? The challenge of recovery is that we have honed our ‘healthy habits’ to excess. We’ve burned the neural pathways so deeply in our brains, and they’ve become automatic. How do you then forge the path into the unknown? Add to that seemingly impossible task the fact that society is telling us that what we’ve been doing all this time is so healthy and virtuous, and it all feels quite overwhelming.

I am not someone who lives by a list of rules, by which I mean that I do not have an actual, physical list of rules. But I’ve been realizing lately that I do in fact have many daily mandates. X glasses of water, at x times per day. Meal times are set at “no earlier than x”. Ice cream is allowed, but only at certain times of certain days. Of course, I have these rigid rules for exercise too. Run no less than x miles. Exercise no less than (but certainly more than) x minutes/hours per day. Take no day off. There is no sense, no actual wisdom, in these tenets. There are other rules to my life that are based on something. Don’t kill people. Avoid public urination, brush teeth at regular intervals, show up to work each day.

I’ve got to be honest with myself about what some of these rules are. I don’t know how to live without them, and I’ve been terrified of naming them, I think, because I know that when I do, I may be forced to confront their absurdity.

I find myself wondering if the only way to truly break free is to throw them all out at once. I’ve tried the approach of addressing one habit or behavior at time. I’ve watched over 10 years of my life pass by in this phase of not-quite-recovered. I have to confess that the idea of just jumping in has always held a steady appeal to me. I’ve never been able to do it.

I’m injured and cannot run, so that at least has given me the momentum I needed to throw the exercise rules out completely. At first, I tried to exercise around the injury. The doctor suggests cross-training to the injured anorexic runner. (Sidenote: Would it be appropriate in any other scenario for a doctor to do this? To the alcoholic, for example: “Oh, you have a beer allergy? Maybe try cocaine?”) This is what my therapist calls all-or-nothing thinking. But maybe all-or-nothing (aka black and white) thinking has a place in recovery, when it comes to the behaviors, and breaking them?  A Zero Tolerance policy for whatever it is that the eating disorder wants?

For now I must rest. I tried to cross train, at doc’s advice. Fuck the elliptical.I’ve spent too many hours on that thing too, during previous periods of injury. I am completely resting until the current injury is 100% healed (not that I have a choice; the alternative is that the current injury progresses to a shattered bone, instead of a fractured one.) I’m noticing that I’ve made this commitment on the exercise issue before-a 100% commitment, all-in. But I’ve not done it with the food. Much as I appreciate the idea of Eat What You Want, As Much As You Want, Forever, I have never actually embraced it myself. I wonder what it will take to bridge that gap between conceptualization and action.

(Seriously, if you are someone who “loves fitness” and you spend time on that thing regularly, you need to re-evaluate whether you may just be lying to yourself. It’s torture.)

(I feel the same way about swimming but I can at least buy that some people legitimately enjoy swimming. The elliptical is a form of punishment.)

My therapist (and a million other professionals I’ve met over the last 15ish years) suggests yoga. Trust me, I’ve tried yoga too. I’ve done a shitload of yoga. Fine, I get why it is recommended in recovery, but to me it is just a way for me to pacify ED-‘yes, ED, we are exercising today-see, we are doing YOGA!’)

I don’t know what these musings will lead to, if anything, in terms of behavior change. Maybe I’m just trying to prime myself to be ready to finally buy into what I pretend to believe, when it comes to food. I guess the logical next step would be to seek out more support and perhaps some concrete advice or wisdom from others who have bridged the gap. Since I’m stuck on my sofa, it’s raining, it’s the weekend, and I can’t do much else, I suppose this is a good opportunity for me to do some soul and internet searching. This will all, of course, be bookened by Netflix, thank god for Netflix.