I have had many ups and downs this past week. Especially given the amount of time I spend outside in the heat - it has made it hard for me to feel hungry enough to eat as much as I need to. Thus, there has been a great deal of PB, chocolate and ice cream in my daily diet these past two weeks or so.
I asked my mom the other day if she thought I was eating too much junk.
She said to me "You eat what? A quarter cup of PB? One single serve bar of dark chocolate and a bowl of all-natural ice cream? Really Victoria. Those are all good, wholesome foods. They may be treats, but they are still good for you. And its not like you sit down eat a whole container of something."
She's right. I was misperceiving what I was eating. Perhaps it was anorexia, trying to make me feel guilty for managing to eat enough calories on a daily basis despite not feeling hungry. Perhaps it was just anxiety over the fact that I eat so much more than everyone around me. I spent the day with D and his friend (also a guy) and I ate more than both of them. That was a bit hard to deal with, but D tried to make me feel better about it. After I got home one night, I had to do serious calorie-cramming. I said to him "Remind me to never not grab something to eat while we're out ever again, even if you aren't eating anything."
D - "Why?"
T-"Because I seriously just consumed the most amount of food I've ever eaten within the shortest span of time. I'm rather in awe of myself at the moment actually."
D-"You know, that's pretty freakin sexy. Is it weird that I think that?"
haha. I really do like that boy.
Anyways. All this "inner turmoil" - feeling guilty about not being hungry, about having an actual resentment to how much I need to eat - has led me to do a lot of thinking and a lot of reading. Scanning through my old journals - I see how far I've come. And I began to realize that I have come through a lot more than I usually allow myself to acknowledge.
This time last year, I was sick. I was on bed rest and not allowed to do much more than read books, sketch and work on puzzles. I would spend hours doing nothing at all. My mother and I made up meal plans one day a week, and she carried them out for me. I was far too afraid to even think about making my own meals. I couldn't trust myself to go through with filling a plate. I was also inexplicably intimidated by the sound of the blender. I couldn't digest much solid food properly for about two months. She made me my tiny meals to have four times a day that were comprised of mainly soft and easily digested foods (yours truly lived off of polenta, PB, bananas, yogurt and oatmeal made with CIB for several weeks), plus the two massive shakes to make up for what I couldn't yet handle eating. I wrote about sitting there at the kitchen table, hands shaking and my entire being being stricken with panic. How it took me half an hour to drink that first shake, and when I was done, I could feel the frozen contents through my abdomen. It frightened me. My lips turned purple with cold. It was June. It hits me now, as I look back through those pages and pictures, just how close I was. I look at me then, and I wonder how I lived. I was so, so afraid and so entrenched in my ED. I wrote about each day that we increased my calories. At one point, I was eating XXXX a day - more than I had eaten in all the days and months of my relapse combined- and surprised that I was still maintaining my obscenely low weight. I was literally in shock. I wrote about the things I ate in great, agonizing detail and every bite and swallow was written with painful words. It startles me now to see how much focus I had placed into my fear of food and how obsessed I had become with being afraid.
I have come to see something important here. The way my eating disorder maintained control over me was by causing me to obsess over my fear. It was not the fear itself that kept me from escaping that dark place. It was the obsession about having fear. Fear is only as powerful as we let it be. It can control you, maim you, beat you senseless. Or you can choose to say "I am afraid but I will go on." It took me a long time after transitioning onto an all-solid foods diet to start gaining weight again. I was perfectly content to be maintaining XX pounds while eating XXXX calories a day. And I had it in my head that I was too afraid to ever allow myself to eat more.
And then the fateful day came. My mother told me that if I didn't start putting on weight again (I had only gained a minimal amount on the soft-foods/shake diet), I would be put up in a hotel room, and she would call every day to see if I was alive. She said on the day I didn't answer the phone, she would know to call the coroner because I had finally died.
This was one week before my 20th birthday. I was given five days to show some sort of weight gain.
We battled back and forth with that same threat for a solid month or so before I was steadily gaining half a pound every two weeks. As my mind finally started to become more stable, I grew impatient with myself and started pushing myself more and more. I realized that I didn't have to let fear guide me forever and that it truly was my choice. I could fight, or I could die. Fear is not the end-all, be-all. Fear is not the deciding factor. It was just a feeling, and an irrational one at that. I faced my fear, shaking in my boots. I can't tell you why I did, other than my not wanting to die at such a young age and not wanting to leave this world before I had ever really gotten to live. But I managed. As sick and desperate as I was, I did it.
Fear is not what should define the way you live or the things you chose to do for yourself. Because in time, the fear fades.
The second, most obvious thing I learned was that just because the ED voice says something, does not make it true or based on reality. And in fact, the more you go against the ED voice, the easier it becomes and the more able you are to recognize it when the ED is speaking, And soon you're able to say to yourself "No, that's not true." or "No, I do need to do this." without so much as a second thought. The rebuttal against the negative thoughts starts to become like second nature.
So for those of us with doubts about the possibility of recovering, please believe me when I say its real. Its possible. It takes some time, and some effort. But eventually, one day, it becomes your life again.
Living the Crazy Life
4 weeks ago