How I get through Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It’s full of love, laughter, family, and of course…food. The word many of us genuinely fear going into that third Thursday of November. I think Thanksgiving will always cause a little bit of a spike in my anxiety, but I also know a few ways to get through that day and end it with a smile and a mind full of peace instead of fear.

For me, the part of Thanksgiving that caused me the most anxiety was actually the variety of food and the build up of my mom cooking everything and laying it all out on the table. I wasn’t so much scared by the visual of the food, but the anticipation leading up to it and the idea that I would be putting so many calories into my body. Keep in mind though, “so many calories” for me meant consuming maybe 200 calories as my meal.

That being said, this is how I make it through Thanksgiving.

  1. I remain aware of how much I am eating. However, I do not mean this in the sense of caloric intake, but rather the physical amount of food and how my body feels while eating it. I remain intuitive to when I feel like I am getting full or when I know I am full and I put the fork down there and say I’m done. I respect my body and I do not worry about other people may be thinking.
  2. I am also aware of when my anxiety is telling me I’m full and when my body is actually physically full. They are two very different feelings. The anxiety based feelings are more thought based. For example, I’ll be thinking “That’s a lot of food” or “There has to be a lot of calories in this Turkey, I think I can be done”. When I’m actually physically full though, it’s less of a mental thought process and more of a feeling in my stomach. A feeling that I finished my plate of food and my body feels satisfied. It takes time to learn the difference, and I still struggle with it sometimes to be honest, but that is something that has really helped me get through my family meal.
  3. I eat slowly. This is probably the most important part for me. I used to rush through my Thanksgiving meal because I just wanted to get it in my body without thinking about it. I wanted to show my family that I was totally fine, there were no problems, I was eating and smiling, but I HATED that I was eating “so much food”. So instead of savoring it, I shoved it down and either forced it back up or got very depressed and anxious over it. So now, I purposely take my time with my food. I put a little bit of everything I want on my plate and I eat it slowly. I savor it. This gives my body time to process what I’m putting into it and time for my brain to tell me “hey you’re full”. It gives me time and when I eat slower, I actually end up eating better because I’m much more engaged in conversation and paying less attention to getting the food from the plate to my mouth, which in turn reduced my anxiety and ED related thoughts.
  4. I remind myself when I am finished eating that all I did tonight was nourish my body. I gave it what it needs to fuel my brain, my muscles, my organs, to keep me alive and healthy. I remind myself that I ate a normal amount of food and I pride myself on staying calm. If I start to have thoughts of purging, I again remind myself that all I did tonight was eat. I did what everyone does on Thanksgiving and that is perfectly okay. Throwing up will hurt the body that works so hard to keep me alive and I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to hurt the thing that keeps me going. I want to protect it. If I start to feel worried that “everyone’s going to see how much I ate”, I remind myself that you don’t gain 10 pounds over night and your body doesn’t change over night. I will look no different the next morning, and if I do, it’s probably just bloating and that is natural occurrence of the human body.

So, that is how I get through Thanksgiving. I hope this helps someone and if you have any tips for me or want to share how you personally get through Thanksgiving while in recovery/post recovery, I’d love to hear what you have to say. 🙂

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We’re approaching Thanksgiving

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When everyone is excited for Thanksgiving and you’re just sitting there like…uuhh…nope.

I like Thanksgiving. I really do like the holiday. I think it’s a day to cherish your family and friends, to be grateful for what you have and not dwell on the things you don’t. I think Thanksgiving is about so much more than stuffing your face with so much food that you physically feel like you’re going to throw up. I always liked Thanksgiving, just not every part of it.

Coming together over food is really just a cultural thing. It’s something we as humans enjoy doing, chatting and eating, eating and chatting, it’s a great time to catch up and to laugh and to reminisce on good times. For me though, coming together over food was always anxiety inducing. I was always very scared of ordering the wrong thing at a restaurant or having food stuck in my teeth or eating sloppily or dropping/spilling something. That was the social anxiety in me.

The eating disorder came about when I was around 12, and Thanksgiving just got harder and harder as the years progressed. I remember seeing all of the food on the table and thinking “okay, I just need to eat a little bit and nobody will think anything”. So that’s what I did. I ate some turkey, some potatoes, some corn, and a bit of cranberry sauce. And every bite I took lead to the thought of “am I full yet?”. Then, when I felt full, I felt gross and I would go throw up my food or I’d curl up in my bed with my knees to my chest and think about everything I ate and how my body has changed and what I look like now. I was very scared of those very low calorie foods. I was very involved with the eating disorder as well as some body dysmorphia.

So, Thanksgiving has really never been easy or exciting for me. At least, it hasn’t in a while. I’ve gotten so much better over the past few years. This will be my 3rd Thanksgiving where I feel less afraid of the food that my mom will make for my little family of 4. I know that last Thanksgiving I ate an entire plate of food and two pieces of pie. I felt some guilt immediately after and the following day I definitely felt those body dysmorphia symptoms, but overall I had very little urges to throw up, very few urges to restrict the following day. I was able to tell myself that what I’m feeling is the ED talking and the anxiety talking. I was able to push through those feelings and really enjoy my Thanksgiving, the food my mom made, and know that it was going to be okay. I knew I wasn’t going to gain ten pounds over night or that  my body was going to suddenly look ten pounds heavier in the mirror.

I did very well last Thanksgiving, so here’s to having an even better holiday this year.

Finding that balance between watching how much I eat and “watching how much I eat”.

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I find that one of the hardest parts of recovering from an eating disorder is watching what and how much you are eating without actually “watching what and how much you’re eating”. I never realized how hard this was going to be. Granted…that’s probably because I had never thought about getting into recovery before…so…there’s that.

Recovering from an ED is really about achieving a healthy body weight, and accepting it, The ultimate goal for whoever is helping you through recovery is not to get you to love your body, although that’s an amazing bonus. Their goal is to get you to accept the weight and to treat your body right. This process involves gaining weight, sometimes that through a simple guide on the right nutrition for your body, other times it involves a strict meal plan, really depends on you and your treatment provider. Regardless of how you are getting your nutrition though, you kind of have to watch what and how much you are eating in order to make sure your body is receiving the nutrients it needs and the caloric intake that is required for your height/weight and body type.

So, in recovery, we’re watching what we eat, but we aren’t allowed to really watch what we eat. We are told to be aware, to monitor, to weigh in during the beginning of the process, but we can’t calorie count. We can’t read labels. We aren’t allowed to weigh our food or go on any diet pills or restrictive plans. All of that is great, it’s so good for us, but it’s confusing because we’re told not to watch how much we eat, but we also have to watch how much we eat and make sure we’re feeding our bodies properly.

I guess the line is really drawn when it becomes obsessive? People watch what they eat, it’s part of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight and healthy body. It’s just a little more difficult for someone in recovery or someone who is currently post-recovery because we have to watch that fine line. We have to be just a little bit more aware than you do because of our history. It just always made me chuckle a little bit because we’re entering recovery for watching what we eat (of course it’s to an extensive degree and our lives are probably at risk…) but when we’re in the recovery stage, we have to watch how much we’re eating, just for a completely different reason.

Does anyone else see what I’m saying? I don’t mean it in a bad way by any means. I absolutely understand how the process of recovery works and why it works that way, it’s just interesting to me because, personally, that’s always been the hardest part for me. Finding that balance between watching how much I eat and watching how much I eat.

ED Goals?

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The ultimate goal in recovering from an eating disorder is to of course not be afraid of food anymore and to live a normal life. For me that’s not the goal, because it’s very hard to reach so I set simpler ones. My personal goal for recovery is to be healthy and to be happy with my relationship with food. When or if I have an eating disorder related thought, if I am able to have that thought and not act on it, I consider it a win. I consider that to be a goal accomplished. In my opinion, I have reached that goal in terms of bulimia, which for those who are unaware is when you consume an excessive amount of food and force yourself to throw up. I have not binged or purged in a long time. I do not know the exact time line, but it has been at least a year. So to me, I consider that a goal accomplished.

What I haven’t totally accomplished is the calorie counting and restricting behavior. Whereas I have not engaged in those behaviors full force in a long time, again probably about a year, I have been very self conscious and borderline obsessive over what is going into my body. I have not been looking at the total calorie number, but I have been focusing a lot on the amount of sugar, fat, carbs, protein, etc. I have not engaged in this behavior for quite some time, so it’s hitting me fairly hard. Recent events in my life certainly haven’t helped the matter, but I am aware of the situation and will be working very hard to get myself back on track.

I do not think I have failed at a goal, but rather I’m kind of stuck in limbo at the moment. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this and I hope it made some kind of sense!

I don’t want to find my other half

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Hello my little blogging world! Today I feel inclined to write about the fact that I have no desire to find my other half. No, I’m not a heart broken 20 something who has given up on love. Nor am I a fragile, broken, woman who just wants to find herself first. Not that there’s really anything wrong with either of those, we all go through those stages at some point in life, but those aren’t my reasons for my lack of interest in this subject.

I don’t want to find my other half. Reason being, because I do not believe that person exists. I do not believe that there is a Yin to my Yang, or a moon to my stars or whatever cheesy saying you personally enjoy. I used to believe that. I used to believe there was someone out there who would “complete me”. Someone out there who would be my opposite and give me what I don’t have, just as I would do for them. I used to believe that I was looking for a missing puzzle piece, you know? Someone who fits me just right, but that’s not what I believe anymore.

I have no desire to find that missing piece, that other half, because I don’t think I am half of something. I am a whole person. I do not see myself as being incomplete without another person beside me. I am one being, with personality traits and quirks that are unique to me, that make me who I am. I am an individual. I am one whole person, not half of a unit. I do not need someone to feel whole. I do not “need” someone else at all. I can survive, thrive even, on my own. I am not looking for someone to complete me. I am not interested in finding someone who makes me feel whole because I shouldn’t need someone to make me feel that way. I should feel that way flying solo.

I am looking for someone who makes me happy. It’s really that simple. I am interested in finding someone who makes me happier when we’re together, but not upset when we’re apart. A person who allows me to be an individual, to be independent, but who I prefer to have around because of how they make me feel and how we are when we’re together. I don’t want someone who is looking for their other half, because I am not that. I do not complete you. I am an addition to your life. We are two whole’s that work best together. I want to be able to be alone, to not “need” that person, but to also know that we’re good together and I am at my best and my happiest when they are around.

I am not looking for my other half, I’m looking for someone who I can survive without, but that I don’t ever want to.

Scared to post

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I’m scared to post because there are two people who know my blog exists, that I don’t want to read it. Not for bad reasons, just because my blog is very personal, very erratic, very upfront and serious. I worry that it’ll make people walk away before they even get to know me.

I’m scared…

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I am so scared now.

I am 23 years old, I should not be scared to meet new people. I should not fear for my safety when I think about going somewhere with someone new. I should not have intrusive thoughts about all the ways this new person could hurt me physically or emotionally.

I should not be fearing that this new person is going to touch me where or how I don’t want to be touched. I shouldn’t be scared, but I am.

I am very scared. I have been manipulated, taken advantage of, and touched by two different men in my life. I have been hurt and I am now scared to meet new people and put myself into vulnerable situations. I shouldn’t be scared of these things. These thoughts should not be plaguing my mind at 2am when I just want to sleep.

See, I am meeting this new person next week. I am so very excited to meet this guy. He’s a lot like me in terms of interests and he’s very funny and personable and likeable. I knew of him in high school, but I was always to afraid to talk to him because he  always seemed like someone who wouldn’t want to know the girl who’s terrified of people. So when he reached out to me, very much to my surprise by the way, of course I wanted to talk to him. I would love to know this person and for this person to know me. I think we would get along really well and we would have a lot in common.

I genuinely like the plan he has to show me around a local city because I’ve never been there. I’ve never had someone to show me the ropes and show me the area. So this is such a good plan, one that I am excited about.

And yet, I sit here in the early morning hours, scared. Scared knowing this person thinks I’m attractive, a concept that should be flattering, and it is, it really is, but it’s also quite scary. It makes me wonder what his intentions actually are because the last time I went to hangout with someone new, I was touched in ways I didn’t want to be. I was attracted to that person as well, but I didn’t want to be touched like that. I am not an object, and that’s all I was to him. An object.

So now I’m scared that this new person, who I pray does not read this before we hangout because I am sure it will scare him off, this person will hurt me just as the last did. This person will try to do things to me that I don’t want. I find this new person to be very attractive, he’s basically the epitome of my type honestly. So I’m not saying I don’t want him to be attracted to me, I just don’t want to feel like an object again. I can’t do it. I can’t feel like an object again.

I don’t think this person means me any harm or sees me as a goal to fuck. I really don’t. He has always struck me as a genuinely good guy. I hope I’m right because if I’m wrong, and I get put into that awful situation for a third time, I don’t think I’ll come out of it.

So please, if by chance you do see this, don’t cancel on me. I’m not broken. I have a rocky past, but I’m so worth knowing as a person. Please don’t be scared of me. That being said, please, also be the good person I’m pretty sure you are. Please don’t prove me wrong. Please have enough respect for me to hear me when I say I can’t be hurt like that again. I can’t be.