Up & Down & Up & Down.
Happy Saturday Everybody!!
We made it through another week! I don’t know about you, but for me it was a week that had high highs and low lows. I was all over the place. I wanted to check in a share how recovery is going and what has transpired over the last month! The last time I wrote I revealed how much I was struggling and that I was at a red light. I made a plan to get out of being at a red light and now want to share how I am currently doing.
You will be happy (I hope?!) to hear I followed through with every goal I had set in that blog! The question however, is did it help? The answer: yes and no.
I did go on a get-away with my hubs! We went to Chicago and it was really wonderful! I was able to get a lot of rest and just have time away from everything. It was too short for my liking and made me realize how much I love the city and want to move back into a city, but it was also a great time to unplug and enjoy a weekend! It did increase my itch to travel a LOT so that was also good!
I DID go back to outpatient treatment. By this I mean I went back to the Hull Institute and started working again with a dietician. This went well at first but then kind of went down the crapper. It was SO good to talk to a professional again that “get’s it.” I hadn’t realized how many triggers had been going on in my life until I sat down with her and she started asking me questions. It felt good to be validated that being around a LOT of diet talk and stressful situations was having a huge impact on my recovery and it made complete sense. I felt less crazy for how I was feeling.
She also reminded me that in cases like mine, on average, it takes seven years to recover from anorexia. I’m just beginning year six. Years ago this would have triggered me, but honestly it motivated me. It reminded me that this is a process. I think for a long time I felt like it should be done. I shouldn’t still struggle or have little set backs. I was convinced my body should be back to a normal weight and all issues should be gone by now. It was a helpful reminder to realize that this takes time and I HAVE come a really long way.
Another helpful tidbit that came out of working with a dietician again was I went back to using Recovery Record so she could see exactly what I was eating and how much I was exercising. For those of you that don’t know what Recovery Record is, it is an app that many dietitians in the eating disorder recovery world use to help us track our food, exercise, thoughts, feelings, hunger and fullness. (NOT CALORIES). After a couple weeks of watching my intake (which I am crazy about putting in every morsel that enters my mouth), my dietician let me know I yet again was under eating. This is VERY hard for me. I am at a much higher weight then I want to be and I constantly fear that people think I just sit on my butt and eat all day. The truth is I struggle to eat enough and still have high stress around food. Being in a bigger body and still dealing with anorexia is honestly one of the worst parts about recovery. I no longer look frail and boney so no one can really tell I struggle.
This led to the reminder that my body, after the trauma that it has gone through, does not like restriction. What diet culture tells us is if we restrict we will lose weight. If we burn more calories then we eat we will lose weight. I constantly have the thought that if I restrict my food then my body will start to eat the excess fat I have all over me and I’ll lose the weight!
Well...to anyone reading this...that is NOT true. It works...until it doesn’t! How do I know? Ummmm I burn more calories then I eat literally all the time and my weight doesn’t change.(Thus the reason they keep telling me to eat more) Its just not that simple and diet culture has sold us on that. For situations like mine my body FREAKS OUT if I don’t feed it enough. Since it has gone through the trauma of anorexia and overexercise before, it doesn’t work that way anymore. If I under-eat my body goes, “Whoa...maybe we should hold on to all this extra weight to keep the body safe because we have learned that lesson before. Oh, and if it continues, we should just save MORE fat!” Yep. That’s what I’m dealing with. It is frightening to eat enough food in a larger recovering body, not knowing if or when my body will continue to let go of more overshoot weight.
This also led to many more panic attacks.....
One of my biggest fears in recovery was getting stuck at a place where my body won’t let go of the overshoot because I’ve somehow found myself restricting again. I fear that if I eat more will I GAIN MORE F’ING WEIGHT! How did I get back to this place of under-eating? Where do I go from here?
The problem is that I want this all to be fixed and over-with.....like yesterday.
I’m so done with my overshoot weight. I am so over the recovery process. I just want my body to work right and be normal. I just want to wear whatever I want and not whatever feels safe and covers the areas I struggle to accept at the moment. I want my body to trust me and honestly, I want to trust my body again. But I don’t. The overshoot weight has caused so much anxiety and stress about food and body image. It feels like I will never get back to where I need to be.
My new dietician helped me get back on track with eating enough and helped me to find self-compassion again as I continue to recover. I needed to get my mind right and it did help do that!
The problem however is that there came a point where my dietician and I were not on the same page so I did stop working with her. I may work with her again after I process how I feel about all of this. I’m also going to be blogging in more detail about this in the next couple weeks (I needed to take a month away to work on myself and now I’m back!), so I’m not going to get into it a lot in this blog. The problem that I have with some recovery dietitians is the thought that we are not allowed to want to lose weight in recovery. We have to have this FULL acceptance of where our body is at the moment and acknowledge that we just don’t know what it will do in the future. It may stay where it is at, gain or even lose. We just can’t know. Like I said, I will get into all the issues I have with this sentiment in recovery in the next blog or so, BUT, for now I will just say this. It’s not a very hopeful place to be in and it makes eating enough, in a bigger body, very difficult because it is to what end? Look, I’m not asking my dietician to have a crystal ball and tell me the exact weight I will be in one year of staying the recovery course. That IS ridiculous and unrealistic. I also DO believe in acceptance to the point that I have to put on clothes and live my life while in recovery and that does take a certain amount of acceptance of my recovering body....but where I get stuck is this idea that no matter what I do I won’t know what will happen and therefore need to love myself where I am at because it may never change...or it might?! I do get it, I really do. However, when you are in the midst of living in a body that doesn’t feel like your own. You are use to being MUCH smaller and at the very least somewhere in between, it is not helpful to think this way. For me, it leaves me confused and a little hopeless that my body will ever heal and return to a place that I feel ok. Alright....I’ll end this now because there is so much more I want to say about it, and its a blog for another time.
As of right now I am on pause working with my dietician. I need to figure out if her approach is what I need to keep going and at the moment I’m not sure it is. UGH. Moving on...
I have been using a lot of coping skills and they have helped! Thought logs, the STOP method, Wise Mind....they all have helped me get through some of my harder moments over the past month.
I DID start doing a new bible study. It was helpful with reconnecting with my values, but I’ll be honest, the past month my relationship with God and faith has been a tumultuous one. One minute I can lean on God for support and feel strong faith he will bring me through this and it has all been worth it. The next I’m questioning everything and angry because if He is able to do all things then WHAT THE LITERAL HECK? Help a girl out here?! I go from feeling safe in His plan, to questioning His goodness. I give my recovery to Him and His will one day, and the next I’m trying to snatch it back because I feel like He clearly doesn’t care. I think any real Christian has had a similar experience when going through difficult times. Nevertheless, I still seek His word and His will and ask for his strength every day I struggle.
I was very honest with my support group about how I am doing and they are and were incredibly supportive. I’m so thankful for all of the people in my support group. The encouragement that I receive from them is SO needed. Recovery is long and people stop caring about it and don’t realize the struggle isn’t over just because it has been going on for years. My support group has been a life safer.
I did follow through with saying NO for a bit. It was very helpful and has kind of continued! I did a full NO WEEK. I obviously didn’t say no to everything. I had to work and serve and church etc., but I did stay home a lot more and spend time doing things I love and it did help a lot.
Lastly, I said I would have a glass of wine with a friend. Ummmm I had no problem following through with this one (haha) and each time it helps me tremendously.
So where am I at today?
Welp, if I’m honest, it depends on the day, possibly the hour.
For example, I was having a great day the other day! I was eating well, I had gone for a jog (I had foot surgery so this was exciting for me to start again), I gave all my piano lessons for the day and was feeling accomplished! Then, I signed onto Instagram and saw a photo of myself that was posted on another account and my day ended with a panic attack and suicidal thoughts. Many people assured me that the photo was definitely bad and from a bad angle and it made me look short a squatty and it was just BAD. As a photographer I also know how bad I can make someone look in a photo with the wrong angle and lighting etc. BUT, once I saw it I was done for. The negative thoughts were OVERWHELMING. I was embarrassed, felt shame and it did lead to suicidal ideation. I mean, can’t there be a setting where you have to approve of a photo of you being posted?!
Some wonder why a photo would make me suicidal. Well, for one, I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, so I don’t see myself right as it is. Secondly, I am living in a body that is WAY larger then my normal weight and BEYOND way larger then my anorexic weight. Seeing a bad photo of it is not fun. I also feel incredibly stuck. My body will only continue to lose the overshoot weight as it heals and feels safe. If I under eat I gain. If I over-exercise, I gain. So I’m just kind of stuck accepting where I am at, and if where I am at is that photo, it can feel extremely defeating. It makes me IMMEDIATELY want to do a crash diet like keto or whole thirty or intermittent fasting, but I know this will just make things worse for my body and won’t work anyway so I’m stuck. I’m stuck in the body I have right now and when I see a photo of it at a bad angle it makes me feel like the only way to become unstuck is to be done. Thankfully I have a lot of support and when I feel this way I reach out to people, take a large lid-full of zzzquil and call it a day. His mercies are new every morning, so I know that when I wake up I will have enough fight in me to try again and deal with it in a healthier way.
There is a treatment center that I want to work with in the UK. They only take on so many clients a year and they work with you extensively. They specialize in people that are in this quasi area of recovery that I am in. I applied and they will take me...but it is 3,500 euros. I’m frankly sick of spending money on treatment so I need to pray about it.
I wake up every day hating the body I am in, praying it will go back to normal and although it is hard and I just want to relapse I end up choosing recovery anyway.
On a positive note my body checking has gotten a lot better! I have chosen to eliminate bodychecking one step at a time. My first goal was to stop bodychecking in the mirror the minute I wake up. I have done it for over a week now! It has helped a LOT. Every change is hard though and I find it has led to more anxiety when I actually DO see myself, but I’m hoping in time this will lessen as well.
Alrighty, that’s the update on how I am doing and if I met the goals I set for myself a month ago!
In the next couple weeks I’m going to dive further into this idea about acceptance. If you have any thoughts on the subject definitely reach out. I would love to hear or read them! I also want to share how COVID has affected me and others I know in recovery and with eating disorders. I know we are all sick of COVID talk, but it’s actually been very interesting and I wonder if people can relate!
I also would like to ask for prayers! I’m in and have been in a rough spot in my recovery for a couple of months now. It is draining and I can use all the prayers I can get! I’m determined to recover and beat this thing! I'm ready for a good season of recovery. Thank you again for all your support!
- Sara -