I don’t know what it’s like…

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I don’t know what it’s like to know exactly who you are.

I don’t know what it’s like to look in the mirror, day and after day, and see no flaws.

Better yet, I don’t even know what it’s like to see flaws and accept them because you know you’re only human.

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up in the morning excited about the day ahead.

I don’t know what it’s like to see something new, different, and feel this overwhelming sensation that equates to holding your hand over a flame, knowing that, that thing you’re witnessing is what you want to do with the rest of your life.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a passion for something so strong that any negative thought or painful doubt you have about it is insignificant.

I don’t know what it’s like to be 100% authentically you.

I don’t know what it’s like to enter a room full of people and be nothing but calm.

I don’t know what it’s like to love yourself.

I don’t know what it’s like to feel someone touch you for the first time and get that wave of excitement, because all I feel is fear.

Just the thought of a simple hand holding gesture making me wince some days.

I don’t know what it’s like to be untouched and beautiful

I don’t know…a lot…of things.

I don’t know a lot of things that Iย should know,

that Iย wantย to know,

and I don’t know that I ever will.

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Blogmas Day 21: I am so humiliated

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Today was a really difficult, complicated, confusing day. A day that I was in no way anticipating. I had a normal morning. I had a therapy appt, it went well, I went to work. I walked into work expecting a normal day, so it was to my surprise that about an hour after I got there I was told that I will be learning more about insurance in order to help out Gabby and take on a more active role in that department. I immediately felt the tears well up.

I tried to do what my psychologist taught me and distract my short term memory by counting something or reading some names on the schedule, but it didn’t work. I went to the bathroom and lightly cried and then returned to the front desk feeling a little bit better. However, I that light cry was apparently just the tip of the iceburg. When the idea was brought up again for further discussion, I got very emotional and started to cry. Up front. One of our higher ups (I’ll call her E), asked if I wanted to go to the back and take a minute so I went with her. What I wasn’t expecting was for two of our therapists to be on lunch in the back so I walked in thinking it would be quiet and alone and it wasn’t. So two therapists saw me crying, which is really unsettling for me and made me feel very embarrassed and ashamed.

After catching my breath and settling down, I realized that for some unknown reason I had brought a sticky note and pencil with me. I decided that I was going to tell E what was going on, but I didn’t want to say it because it would have kept me crying so I wrote it down. I didn’t give very many details, but I did say I am in eating disorder treatment and then I will be starting trauma counseling in mid February, so I was just feeling very overwhelmed and to walk in and find out I’m going to have more put onto my plate and more to think about, it just all kind of hit me. I felt very alone and very discouraged and still quite embarrassed because the two therapists could obviously hear what was going on.

Once I had settled down I was able to go back up front and start learning insurance things just fine. I was never against learning them, I’m scared to, because its a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure, but I wasn’t opposed. I was just in so much shock and felt like I was just drowning in new things and new information and had so much going on that adding to my pile felt like the a ton of bricks just crashing to the floor. I couldn’t handle it.

I still feel so embarrassed, so ashamed and so small because of that event. I did not want anyone outside the two people who already knew, knowing. I especially didn’t want one of the higher ups at work knowing I was struggling. One of my coworkers maybe, like G or C or D I probably would have told because I find them to be very trustworthy and very reassuring, but I really just wanted to handle it. It is inappropriate to fall apart at work, but that’s exactly what I did. I fell apart and I am so humiliated.

First day of treatment: Blogmas Day 5

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Today was my first day of “official” eating disorder treatment. I wasn’t going to blog much about today because I felt like this was a very personal topic that doesn’t belong in a Blogmas post, but screw it.

I have been battling with anorexia/bulimia since I was 12. I started treatment for that and some other issues when I was 19, but for whatever reason the ED was overlooked and left untreated. That is, until today.

I started seeing a new psychologist about a year ago (on and off, not consistently for a year) for some completely unrelated issues I was having. At that time, the ED was completely in check and I was good. Recently though, a lot of my old ED behaviors and though patterns have come back and seeing as I never really went into ED treatment, I never learned about the ED. I never learned coping skills or the why of it all. I just kind of taught myself how to live with it and go about my life.

Due to my recent slipping back into the ED, my new psychologist has decided to do ED treatment, which is about a 20 session program. Today was session 1 of that treatment, as I did very well. I learned how the process will work, why it has to work that way, and was told what things we will be targeting throughout the treatment. I’ll be learning about nutrition, coping skills, how to properly handle any strong urges I have. We’re going to target my anxiety over food/body image and talk through my thoughts. I’m actually quite excited for this process because I’m going to learn so much about myself and how to go about my life happier and healthier.

So far, I am doing very well. I am a very motivated patient and I am already eating a wide variety of foods. A lot of my problems lie in the visual aspect of food, partial restriction, and the urges I get to purge when I feel full or stressed out in general. So, as the treatment progresses we will target those areas along with others and I will continue to grow and do well because that’s my only choice. There is no option B, there is only Option A.

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 Iย HATEDย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 beenย easyย orย excitingย 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 thatย  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.

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!

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.