Lapsing

TW: EATING DISORDERS

I’ve been trying not to post about this, partially because talking about my disorder helps to fuel it, and partially out of a disordered hope to not “jinx it”.

Things have been slipping, eating-wise. I was doing well for a long time, so this lapse was surprising. It’s only been 10ish days, but I don’t remember the last time I restricted for that long.

I did lose weight after my breakup due to depression, and it was hard gaining it again. The time between regaining my appetite and returning to normalish eating could be considered a lapse, but it didn’t last long. And even so, that was over 9 months ago. Before then, my lapses had been a couple days at most since Fall 2015.

So whoops.

I don’t remember what started this. I have been trying to eat “healthier” and “more balanced”, so that could have played a role. I’m not uncharacteristically unhappy right now.

This also feels quite different from other lapses. I am usually driven by a desire to lose weight, and I turn things around when the restriction starts to impact my mood. This “turning things around” usually feels somewhat relieving, as it improves my mood and satisfies my hunger. It also ends the constant battle in my head.

But this time, I have been largely driven by anxiety. The thought of eating makes me feel panicked. I feel like Anorexia has already taken me captive, and there’s nothing I can do to change this. I don’t necessarily believe that I can’t be happy with an eating disorder; and the prospect of losing weight, while not my main motivation, seems worth it. I don’t feel like me. I feel like it’s 2014 again, and Anorexia has taken me captive.

While part of me is horrified at this development, part of me is also thrilled. I can see a subtle weight difference already, and it’s intoxicating. The high and the confidence boost of restriction are addicting. I feel like maybe I’m doing things right. Maybe the alternative to this is eating crap all day and being fat and hating myself. Maybe this will make me happy. Maybe this is all I have.

I feel like crap physically (my body has such a low tolerance for this shit now), I’m more anxious/depressed, and it’s hard to study for my calculus final, but YOLO? I don’t know.

Sarah

Reflecting on Recovery

I am generally feeling pretty down this evening, but I’ve been wanting to write a positive post regarding Eating Disorder recovery, so I figured I may as well do that tonight.

I consider myself to be recovered from my eating disorder. Despite the fact that I was not sick for very long, there was a time when I thought I would never say that. I remember once asking a healthcare provider, “What if I’m stuck like this forever?” I can still feel the desperation I felt in that moment. I remember how trapped I felt when over and over and over again, attempts to stop restricting lead to bingeing which lead to purging and recommitting to restriction. And I am so happy not to be feeling those things anymore.

I won’t re-tell my entire eating disorder history here, but I’ll give a rough timeline of my illness and recovery for context. I exhibited disordered eating patterns off and on during my teenage years, but I would say my disorder began in September 2013. (At that time, I had Bulimia Nervosa, but this would later abruptly morph into Anorexia- Binge/Purge Subtype) My illness began consuming my entire life in Summer 2014. I half-assed my way through a Day Hospital Program Winter 2014/2015, relapsed immediately upon discharge, and gave my best effort when I was re-admitted in Spring 2015. Despite beginning to relapse in June 2015, and slipping many times later, I have more or less maintained my recovery since that admission. Over the course of months, my slips went from 3 weeks long to 1 week long to 3 days long, and they were happening less and less frequently. My eating disorder made it difficult to regain the weight I lost last Fall as a result of depression, but it did not manage to suck me in the way it had before. And today, I feel the healthiest I have been (food-wise) since my disorder began.

It has been a year and a half since I have been seriously unwell, so I often fail to notice the subtle changes in my thinking that I never thought I would experience. But every once in a while, I am amazed and incredibly grateful by the transformation that has taken place.

One thing that has surprised me is the way I view my disorder differently as I gain more distance from it. I used to have an unbearable urge to become sicker before I recovered, to show the world how much weight I could lose before “giving up” by getting healthy. I thought my eating disorder wouldn’t matter unless I ended up in a hospital bed with a tube in my nose. In essence, I thought losing more weight would make me finally feel “sick enough to recover”. But the strange thing is, what finally made me feel this way was recovery itself. For one, the amount of weight loss that seemed trivial to me at the time now feels somewhat shocking. But also, living with the freedom to eat according to my body’s wants and needs has made me realize the extent to which I used to be imprisoned by my thoughts. I have memories of wanting so badly to eat, but feeling physically incapable of doing so. I remember crying over a plate of Shepherd’s Pie, while “This is against the rules” repeated in my head like a punishing mantra. I remember feeling too embarrassed to be in public after my first day in treatment, because I thought everybody could tell I was gaining weight. As I sit here writing about these days, I am thinking “What the actual fuck.” I feel so far removed from that world of obsession and delusion. And that validates my struggle more than further weight loss or an increased level of care ever could have.

My biggest surprise though, is that I am actually starting to love my body.

I feel hypocritical saying that, because there are still days when I think I am fat, and I still let my desire to numb my emotions hurt my body when I self-harm. But whenever a friend says I have a nice butt, (an occurrence that once contributed to a relapse) I respond with “Thank you; I know.” I came home from the gym one day last week and told my roommate, “My legs are great”. I sometimes flex my biceps in the mirror like a douchebag. I thought that losing more weight, on top of validating my suffering, would make me like my body more. And yes, there were a couple milliseconds sprinkled throughout the time I spent unwell where I felt “skinny”. But 99% of the day, I felt tired, depressed, and most importantly, “not thin enough”. I remember riding the train to my first day of treatment (Round 2) at my lowest weight, and thinking my thighs looked fat. I realize now that my unconscious goal was to make my body disappear, something I could never have fully achieved. No matter how sick I got, my body would still have some mass, and my legs would still be there. I looked down at my thighs and hated the space they took up, so making that amount of space smaller would have never satisfied me. Now, I am no longer wishing my body out of existence. I see the way some clothing accentuates my curves, and I feel beautiful and feminine. I look down at my thighs and, while I do see fat, I also see muscle I have worked hard to build, and I see pieces of a human being who is allowed to exist and take up space.

I can’t explain in words how profoundly grateful and surprised I am to be in this place I didn’t think I would ever be. I so easily forget the progress I’ve made when depression and anxiety continue to affect my everyday life. But I get to work on these issues with my fully functional, well-nourished brain, and then go home and eat Reese chocolate peanut butter spread like I give a fuck, and then do my abstract algebra homework somewhat-efficiently, and then spend time with friends because I have the energy for it. Focusing on my current struggles is important, but it’s also nice to look back on the progress I’ve made and feel proud and thankful that I have gotten this far.

Sarah

2 Years Later

I wrote this letter 2 years ago today. It had been 2 months since I had been discharged from an Eating Disorders Day Hospital program, and it would be 1 month until I began the program for a second time. I wrote this to my future self in Day Hospital, so whenever I started romanticizing my eating disorder (which I do a lot), I would be reminded that it was hell. I still pull this letter out sometimes, when I start looking back with nostalgia on my life with an active eating disorder. I am proud to say that, 2 years later, I consider myself recovered from Anorexia, and I have no plans of going back.Untitled

Bye, 2016. See you never.

I felt like posting an update tonight, and then I realized that it’s about the right time to start reflecting on the giant pile of shit that was 2016, so here I am.

Before I begin, I would like to contextualize this year in my life by briefly summarizing 2014 and 2015, which weren’t too great for me either.

I began 2014 in my first Severe Major Depressive episode and was bingeing and purging almost daily. Around March, I began dating a guy I didn’t like at all because I was desperate to not be alone. That relationship ended in July with a traumatic event, and my eating disorder worsened and became mainly restrictive. I was unable to function, and did not return to school in the Fall. I began a Day Hospital Eating Disorders program in December.

I remained in the Day Hospital program for the entirely of January, getting discharged on the 31st. I returned to school in February, but maintaining recovery on my own was harder than I had expected, and I relapsed almost instantly. I was re-admitted to Day Hospital mid-April and was discharged 9 weeks later. I began to relapse in June and July, but was able to turn things around, and have essentially stayed well since, aside from the occasional  bad week or two. I was fired from a job after disclosing my mental health disability (which is definitely illegal), and later quit a job that caused more anxiety than I could handle. I moved out and returned to school again in September, and in November, I began dating my ex. Ugh, fucking Jennifer. 2015 concluded with the one good month of that relationship.

Enter 2016. The New Year brought a lot of anxiety, as I hadn’t yet told my parents I wasn’t working and I knew they wouldn’t be happy about it. My ex was being dramatic as fuck about her co op term, and was unbearable to be around. She also stopped giving a single shit about me. In May and June, I had to live at home, as my landlord sold our student house and the new place I wanted wouldn’t be open until July. I also had a hard time finding a job, which caused a lot of self-hatred and finance-related anxiety. The job I eventually found was pretty good, but working really triggers my social anxiety. And of course, on my last day of work, my ex broke up with me in the shittiest way imaginable. I suffered my second Severe Major Depressive episode, which brought on 3 overdoses, a relapse into self-harm, a brief eating disorder relapse after unintentional weight loss, and just overall misery. And then a fascist, sexist, reality TV star became leader of the free world.

So here we are, in December 2016. The past three years have been one very long shit-show, but maybe things are gradually improving? My hospital stays lasted days instead of months, I held down a full-time job for most of the Summer, and I spent most of the year out of the toxic environments at my parents’ houses. I learned a lot about myself and became much stronger. I loved and I lost (it should have been you, Bernie), but mostly I survived. And maybe 2017 will fuck me all over again. But maybe it won’t?

I’m generally pretty cynical, and it’s not like I expect the new year to bring me fairy dust and a pet unicorn. But the bar has been set low, so 2017 will likely be an A+ year on the bell-curve of my life. I guess I just need to do what I can to make that happen.

Sarah

My eating disorder is an asshole

Hi everyone,

I wrote a post recently (yesterday?) about my strong thoughts of relapsing into Anorexia. I acted on some behaviours yesterday, and today, my eating disorder won’t shut up. It’s kind of shitty having my brain hurl insults at me all day, and I thought writing about it might help.

So, these are the nuggets of pure wisdom that Anorexia is bestowing upon me on this lovely day:

1.I never actually had an eating disorder, and especially not Anorexia, because I barely lost any weight. None of what I went through matters unless I do it right.

2. I am a dramatic piece of shit for complaining when I literally restricted for one day. People do that all the time. I’m a weak, pathetic whiner. I have been so dramatic about the barely-real eating disorder I had, and I need to either shut up or get a real eating disorder.

3. I am going to get over this in a day or two, as soon as I get hungry, because I am weak and undisciplined. I was never able to lose that much weight, and I never will be, because I can’t do anything right.

4. If I relapse now, maybe I can actually be skinny and see what that’s like. Then it will be out of my system.

5. If I relapse, people will care about me and like me.

So, this was fun. My brain is a super fun, exciting place to be. That’s really all I wanted to say, because I am a dramatic whiner.

Hope everyone is well!

Sarah

Oh haaaaay Anorexia

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is being written by my eating disorder.

Things have been a lot lately. I still feel depressed and lonely more than three months after my breakup. I’m writing finals this week and next. Finances are very tight, as I am reaching the end of the student loan money I received in September. And I am dreading the hours I will have to spend with my family on and after Christmas Day. Maybe this is why I have been feeling particularly nostalgic about my eating disorder lately.

I don’t feel fat- no more so than usual anyways. I’m not feeling anxious about eating a normal amount with decent variety. Recovery is not difficult right now.

But I keep thinking about the high I got from losing weight. The way I actually liked myself for a little while. I think about watching my body change and feeling my clothes get looser. I miss the routine and the obsession and the perfection. I even miss that god-awful Day Hospital program, where healthcare professionals cared about me for a second because my pain became visible.

I know rationally that I was miserable when I was in the throes of my disorder, and that I would hate myself if I gave up on recovery. But the desire to lose weight is so strong. I can feel Anorexia taking over my brain, and I don’t even mind. This might go away in a day or two, or I might let it continue.

Today, for the first time in a while, I tried solving a problem by restricting. My roommate bailed on our plans today, and I felt incredibly angry and anxious at the sudden change. I wanted some way to let my anger out, and my stomach was in knots anyway, so I threw out the bagel I was making for dinner and had a bowl of vegetables instead. I’m having a hard time studying now, but I feel powerful.

I don’t know what to write as a conclusion. Obviously, my thoughts are incredibly disordered right now, and they’ll probably go back to normal soon, but I wanted to express them. So, there they are.

Sarah

Side Note

I don’t want to make a whole post about this because I am trying not to think about it, but I am currently trying to eat more after a month of restriction following my breakup. For the first few weeks, this restriction was simply due to lack of appetite, which my depression had caused. But eventually, my Anorexia became triggered as I began getting used to my restrictive diet and enjoying the mild weight loss it had caused. In an effort to improve my mood and regulate my emotions, I have decided to start eating more again. This is difficult, because my appetite has not fully returned. Also, after having very limited variety in my diet for weeks, it is scary to begin eating new foods again. The most difficult part is letting go of the weight loss, as it feels like the only good thing happening in my life right now. But I know I will feel better when I am properly nourished and at my set-point weight. I am trying to do this mechanically, without giving it a second thought. But as I sit here eating cookies that scare me, while still feeling full from lunch, I need to tell someone how much this sucks.That’s all I will say on that topic.

Sarah