Blogmas Day 10: The struggle between looking “too skinny” and looking “too fat”

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So here’s the thing…

I look back on old photos of myself, old videos, read old documents I wrote and saved to a hidden file on my computer, and I think to myself, that girl was so damn broken. She was so hurt. So fucked up. I found videos of me singing and I looked so skinny. So underweight, but nobody saw. Nobody noticed. Likely because I hid it well, but still. I found old documents that listed everything I wanted to change about me physically.  That entire list was nothing but me saying I wanted every single part of my body to be free of fat and to be trimmed and toned. I remember being scared of an apple. An apple. They have, what, 100 calories in them? I was such a mess. I was so broken.

When other people think of someone in recovery, they assume it means that person wants to be skinny. That person looks back on old photos and misses that body. That is not true for me, and probably for a lot of people in recover. When I think of that time period, I get sad. I get upset that I was that girl. I get upset that part of me still behaves in that way and part of me does not want to let go of the eating disorder because I identify with it.

Being in recovery for me is so confusing. The reason being, my brain is not completely healed, it may never be. So, while part of me wants to be skinny, is afraid of gaining weight, the other part of me is also terrified of looking too skinny again, of looking underweight again. There’s also this part of me that is just as scared about looking too heavy, overweight, etc. I am very confused and lost and this is a daily battle that I will likely face on and off for the rest of my life. If I manage to be a lucky one who fully recovers, great, but that’s rare. I get that, but I want to be further in recovery than I am and for the life of me, I can’t wait until the day comes when I can just be comfortable in my damn skin and see things in a way that goes beyond calories, image, social acceptance, etc.

I just want to be done with this, even though being done with this is one of the most terrifying things I have ever had to face.

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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.

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!

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 have so much to say and no idea how to say any of it

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I sit here right now, at 9pm, thinking about a lot.

Thinking about what happened just a few nights ago,

thinking about how I feel about it, why it happened,

thinking about how much I want to not be thinking about it.

I sit here right now feeling like I’m forcing myself to write this,

not out of a fear or anxiety of doing so, but rather a lack of interest in what I am saying.

I always have so much to say, so many thoughts and feeling in my head, but the second I type in this website address and hit “add new post”, my mind goes blank and I become robotic.

It doesn’t make much sense to me because just sixty seconds ago I had thoughts upon thoughts ciricleing and suddenly they’re all silent.

I sit here right now trying way too hard to write what is on my mind, but don’t you comment anything like “you just have to go with it, let it flow, relax and type” because that’s not how my brain works. I’m a thinker. I live in my head. Getting out of it, even just putting words on paper, which is actually something that lyrically I am quite good at, I can’t seem to do it here. I’m guessing it’s a judgment thing towards myself. I don’t know.

I sit here right now thinking this is not at all where I thought this was going to go, nor is it what I wanted to say at all.

I wanted to recap the events that transpired on Saturday night, the good events, the events that happened after the bad ones.

I wanted to write about how confused I am so that I could lay it all out in front of me, but I can’t seem to figure out how in the heck to make that happen.

I wanted to write about my coworker for two seconds because I am so envious of her and that makes me feel guilty because I’m not being fair to myself.

I wanted to write about how I have opinions on very controversial topics that would piss people off, but I do not think I could pull that off because I value being liked over stating how I feel.

I wanted to write about how grateful I am to have this one specific person in my life and write about how I feel about that person both positively and negatively.

I wanted to write about how I feel guilty for telling another person about what they did to me and how I took it. I want to apologize and take it back and let them know that they aren’t a bad person. But I cannot do that.

I wanted to write about how I’m kind of over what happened to me physically, but I’m not over all of these thoughts of guilt and acting about it. I should talk to someone but then I feel terrible for having to go back to therapy AGAIN.

I am so torn in so many directions and I am so very confused.

I have so much to say and absolutely no idea how to say any of it.

I should have been hospitalized

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Today I had a session with someone and I found out some very interesting and reassuring…and a little scary…things that I need to put onto a page. So here we go.

For a very long time now, I have been feeling like a liar. I have been feeling fake, and I have been feeling very confused. I felt like what I was telling people wasn’t accurate. Wasn’t true.  Even though I knew I was sick, I felt like what I was saying was a lie. Up until today I didn’t know why I felt that way, but now  I do.

Those feelings stem from a past of not being treated properly for the “diseases” or “illnesses” or whatever it is that you want to call what I had. A long time ago, I got help for an eating disorder, amongst other things, but the primary was the eating disorder. I didn’t tell the person I saw that it was my main concern, I kept that off to the side, but it was thrown around. The person that I saw for help claimed to specialize in eating disorders. So when I saw her, I was expecting to be told I needed to go to a treatment center or extensive outpatient therapy. Neither of those things were said to me. Instead, I was seen for the other factors that were likely stemming from or at least being triggered by the eating disorder. The eating disorder, which should have been the initial focus, was simply something to toss in from time to time. We would talk about it, but we never created a plan or really went into any detail about any of it.

The reason for this, I believe, is because I did not “look sick”, nor did I show many signs of internal damage occurring. By internal damage I mean GI tract issues, vision loss, slow BP, things like that. Well….I mean if I did have any of those things, nobody ever mentioned it to me. I had some GI problems, but I assumed they were things that just “happen sometimes”. You know? Like being constipated. It happens. Nobody told me that it could be happening because I am not eating enough.

I believe I wasn’t properly treated when I first went to get help because I did not “look sick”. My average weight was between 110 and 115. I am 5’4″, so that is underweight for someone of my height and also my build, my genetics, etc. However, I didn’t look like 110. I looked like 115-120 because of my build and the way my body distributes fat. I think this is why nobody really noticed my eating habits, my behaviors, my obsessions, etc. I think I looked healthy, therefor I was healthy to everyone around me when in reality, I was suffering.

The doctor I saw, I was truly expecting to give me an eating disorder work up of some kind. She didn’t even weigh me. She didn’t ask for a copy of my vitals. She asked me why I thought I was sick, what were my behaviors, and then she filed that information away and we talked more about the other problems I was having.

Back to the part about me feeling like a liar. I now know why I felt that way. I went into that therapy session thinking, “if I  really am this sick, she’s gonna send me somewhere to get help”. She didn’t do that. That doctor not giving me any kind of a work up besides a form to fill out confirmed what I believed, that I really wasn’t that sick. I was sick, and I had an eating disorder, but it wasn’t severe. I was fine. I was safe. I was in the clear. And I went with that. For years I felt like I needed to justify myself when I told people I had an eating disorder, even just my family, I justified it by saying “but it wasn’t that bad, I wasn’t hospitalized or anything.”

I felt like a liar. I felt like I was lying to everyone by saying I had an eating disorder because to me it wasn’t bad and if a doctor didn’t see it as much to be concerned with then why should I? I felt like I was also lying to myself because part of me knew I was sick. Really sick. Part of me knew that something was wrong and that I was telling people, not for the sake of having an interesting story, but so that they would step in and help me because I was still suffering. Part of me was still suffering.

Today I found out that my current doctor would have hospitalized me. I should have been hospitalized. I was sick and I didn’t get the help I needed because I didn’t fit the part; because the doctor I saw wasn’t properly trained in eating disorders even though her profile said she was. Even though she acted as though she was, maybe she wasn’t or maybe she just saw me wrong. I don’t know.

But I now understand why I thought the way I did and why I felt the way I did, up until today. Today I get it. Today I no longer feel like a liar. Like I need to justify myself. Like I’m fake. Today I know that what I was battling was very real. I just happened to see doctors who were not trained how I thought they were. And that sucks, but I’m so glad that I know now and I can stop that train of thought from continuing on.

I should have been hospitalized, and I am grateful to know that now.