Tag Archives: anorexia nervosa

Life After

With it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to take the time out of my night to sit down and write something meaningful about this week. Reading post after post of individuals’ stories about life in the grips of an eating disorder and how they’re now on the other side, I decided I wanted whatever I wrote to be a little different. But how do you make your writing different from the thousands out there that are writing about the same issues?

I have noticed a theme over the week within those posts, however. There’s always that silver lining moment at the end where the writer describes how much life has gotten better since they entered recovery, and I have to agree that it’s a fucking incredible thing being in recovery and not having the obsessions about food and weight on your mind 24/7. But the posts always end there, leaving a sort of cliff hanger, especially for those of us who know what going through the recovery process is like. But what I want to touch on is something I haven’t read much of in the posts:

            The bad days of recovery.

Because guess what guys, it’s not always an easy task and some days those thoughts and desires to once again self-destruct come running back to you. People expect you to struggle while you’re getting back on your feet while in treatment, whether that be inpatient or outpatient. But what I’ve noticed in my own life is that nobody really talks about the struggle so many of us face after we’re discharged from a treatment program and are fully integrated back into our lives. That’s when, at least in my opinion, real recovery starts and is tested on almost a daily basis.

I’ve gone a couple of weeks without the intrusive thoughts about my weight and calories, but something I’ve noticed is that it always comes back. We learn skills to fight those thoughts out, as well as behavioral components to engage in to not fall back into the very thing we were once so comfortable in. My own therapist has told me countless times that yes it may be so much easier to just say ‘fuck it’ and go back into living a life of an eating disorder, but there’s so much more to lose at this point in your life now that you have experienced what living is supposed to be like.

Let’s be real here for a moment though guys, sometimes the idea of living this new life, for the rest of our life mind you, seems overwhelming. Some days I wake up and don’t want to continue living this life of recovery. Some days I want to jump right back into the arms of an eating disorder, because coping with the emotions that come from every day life experiences can really fucking suck. They talk about the ebbing and flowing of motivation for recovery in treatment all the time, but just because you’ve been discharged from a program doesn’t mean that ever really stops. It becomes less frequent of an issue, but an issue still nonetheless.

You can go weeks feeling on top of the world and loving the life you worked so hard to get, but some days those thoughts and physical feelings can come back and come back with a vengeance. It’s in those moments though, that you really have to put all of those skills that were drilled into your head into use. It’s a struggle, because now you have insight. You know you can kick those thoughts’ ass, you know you can hold off on engaging in whatever behavior it is your head is telling you to do, and you know all of the things that you could lose by letting yourself get engulfed in those thoughts and actions for even just a day. Because I think we all know that a lot of the time, that one day is all it takes to flip that switch and you’re plummeting backwards.

But unlike the days you were in treatment, there’s not that team of people right there to catch you before you smash into the ground. So it’s all you, and you know you can do it if you choose to. It’s those choices that can either make or break you. It all comes down to choice. There’s this internal battle you enter into with your old self and the new, more insightful self. So what are you going to do? The guilt of fucking up and having to explain to either your doctor or your therapist as to why the scale says you lost weight when you go in for your next appointment or session can be overwhelming enough. To be honest, that has been something that has kept me on my toes a lot over the past year. Having to come up with some lie that seems like a legit excuse isn’t really worth it, because if your therapist is good at their job, they’ll dissect the shit out of what you just told them until they reveal the truth behind the fact you lost weight again.

But I guess I should probably end this post on a positive note, eh? I mean shit if I stopped right there we’d all be fucking depressed and not want to continue trying our best to live a life of recovery. So here it goes, that silver lining moment we all love:

Some days of recovery suck. I mean really fucking suck. But it’s only a day, or a moment or a thought. It doesn’t have to become the catalyst that slides you backwards. If you’ve made it this far to where you can say you’re in recovery, well dammit you can make it past the shitty days too. Without trying to sound like one of those cheesy motivational posters that are scattered all over the place, you’ve already proven to yourself that you can do this. So when you really feel like recovery is a joke and you can no longer keep it up, remember the way you fucking rallied to get to where you are now, even if in that moment it feels like you didn’t make as much progress as everyone around you is telling you’ve made. It’s always hard to see the progress you made for yourself, but you did it yourself. So keep calm and stay strong.

Free Write- Poetry

Sometimes I feel like a grenade.

My trigger has been pulled,

and I know the explosion is coming.

When will it come? When will I explode

into millions of tiny pieces, hitting everything around me

with fragments of the shell I was.

The built up pressure continues rising inside me

after the pin is yanked.

Who is holding this weapon in their hand,

knowing all too well the damage it will cause others?

There’s no time to think about the consequences now.

It’s too late. There’s only seconds left

Until I detonate and take out everyone who’s in reach.

A split second of fear kicks in as I know the pain I am about to cause.

There’s no turning back though.

I can no longer control this anger,

This thirst for making others feel just as shitty as I do.

After I release my fury, I know I will have victims hit with the shrapnel of my anger.

There’s more to lose, and more underneath this explosion than I have ever let on.

Sometimes, I feel like a grenade

Why I Love Research

Being a psychology major, one of the requirements for my school is taking 2 courses surrounding the topic of research methods/statistics. I started out that journey hearing horror stories of how difficult it was, how much work and time and energy went into it, how I’d have to conduct my own study and write a paper about my research, not to mention the fact that being a junior and knowing I wanted to work with eating disorders and addictions I had absolutely no interest in doing any sort of research. Here’s why:

For the past few years being in a few treatment programs I’ve heard a lot about research. “according to research…”, “the research does say that…”, was an infamous line that came out of therapists mouth almost on a daily basis and frankly, I was sick of it. Research, as far as I could tell, wasn’t accurate. At least not for me. I’d smirk whenever the psychologists would start a sentence out using those phrases. How would research benefit me? Nobody ever included me in one of the many studies done, so how the hell do they know?

So when I had to take a research methods and statistics course, I thought “oh boy, here we go. This class is going to suck”. Sure I’d try my hardest to get a good mark, but once that year was over with I would have nothing to do with research for the rest of my life and career in clinical psychology. But something happened the more I learned of the methods, research is so much more than just one individual.

Anecdotally speaking, research pertains to the vast majority of a population you’re studying and what I love about it is you can gain further perspective into human behaviors and cognitions by studying a sample of the population. So to bring it back to myself, as much as I hate to admit it, I was in part contained into the population of those with eating disorders. The research behind the disorders make sense and the more I look into areas of research I can see now that what researchers found in their results and analysis make total sense.

I love coming up with research questions about topics in the field I am passionate about. There’s something intriguing to me about having all of these questions, reading what other researchers have found and trying out methods to test my hypothesis. If you told me a year ago that research would be an area of psychology that I would end up being passionate about I would have laughed at you, but now I am actually in the beginning stages of my 2nd research project. This time I have higher goals than just to get a passing grade. I’m working with my professor who was also my research methods and statistics professor, and this round I’m working with her instead of doing everything on my own. I’m genuinely excited and to be honest I would probably do the project even without the incentive of earning Independent Research credit.

Thanatology became a high interest area of mine last semester when I took the class. It was relevant because of everything I was experiencing with my Grandma, and knowing this professor had research interests in that area I knew it was a good match. We met a few weeks ago and decided to do a study on social media/networks and coping with death. I am so excited about this and get more so as I read more and more articles pertaining to the topics.

For this research I want to present it at a conference psychology majors from my college go to every year, and there was even talk at our meeting of publishing the research. All of these things are what I was wanting to accomplish the minute I fell in love with research. It’s so much more than numbers, it’s a way to observe human cognition and behaviors in a hands on way. Wanting to be a clinical psychologist my whole undergraduate career I can see now the more I get into research why it is so helpful to the field.

Vacation

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going on my 1st vacation in about 4 or 5 years. The last time I was planning on going on vacation was in 2013, and I was going by myself to spend a week or so at my Uncles place in Florida. Nobody knew that the vacation was my last “hoorah”. I was really sick in my eating disorder (although I didn’t want to admit it), hated myself more than any other time in my life and with more intensity & this time I wasn’t about to pussy out of my plan. The plan was to party it up while I was down there and do whatever it was that came to mind (be carelessly compulsive), get home that Saturday and not wake up Sunday. I had it all narrowed down. I did the stereotypical move of giving my shit away and other things I’m sure but don’t remember.

Obviously none of that happened.

The day I was meant to be on a plane to Florida, I instead found myself on a plane heading to Chicago where I’d transfer on a plane out to Arizona for treatment. I remember a week passed and I was out in the smoking area talking to one of my housemates when I told her that I should have been dead in my room that day instead of sitting in a treatment center for anorexia. In that moment it felt like everything I spent the past few months working up to was stripped from me.

So now I’ll be going to Florida in a couple weeks, this time in recovery from my anorexia and for the first time in my whole life am living with knowing I have a future. But I’ll admit I’m scared shitless.

Normal people don’t panic over the food they’ll have on vacation; in fact it’s usually the time of their year where they can guiltlessly indulge without feeling like shit about themselves. I am so fucking terrified that because I’ll be staying at a hotel (which means I have no real option of cooking food every night) that I’ll get home and when I’m weighed at my individual therapy session the scale will show a much higher number.

My mom told me I don’t have to eat a lot of stuff on vacation. I know she meant well, but does that mean I can restrict a little bit? I’ll be at the hotels fitness center every morning before the day starts because if I have to eat out a lot I need some sort of “compensatory” thing so I don’t blow up. It’s only an 8 day vacation but I am so terrified about it.

I’m sure it won’t be as bad as the voice in my head is telling me it will be, but it doesn’t lower my anxiety any less.

You Don’t Need a Label

I’ve heard countless times people trying to place a specific label on their issues, specifically when it comes to eating disorders. They’re not as black & white as the world would like to think they are. It’s not bulimia, anorexia, EDNOS, binge eating disorder. No, they’re so intertwined into the personality, and the personality isn’t something you can place neatly in this cute little box. Neither are eating disorders.

“I go days without eating.. but then I eat and eat. I must not have anorexia”

“I binge and purge. But it’s not all the time. Or sometimes I don’t purge but I kill myself at the gym. Does that make me bulimic or not?”

“I eat normally. I don’t throw up, but I can’t stop using laxatives. What does that make me?”

“I can eat my whole kitchen in under an hour. But then I don’t eat for days to control my weight. Am I anorexic, bulimic or something?”

Do you want to know what I’ve learned? It doesn’t matter the label. If you have an eating disorder, you have an eating disorder. It’s just my opinion but you don’t need that neat tiny label place over it and frankly I don’t understand why labeling something like this is “needed”. Maybe it’s more socially acceptable, maybe it’s an indicator for your friends and loved ones so they can “”understand”.

Sure someone who doesn’t get out of bed for days can easily be labeled depressed. Someone who attempts to take their own life can be labeled as suicidal. Someone who hears terrible voices in their head that compels their behavior can be schizophrenic. Someone who has manic episodes followed by terrifyingly dark depression can be bipolar. And for the longest time as I was in treatment, I would wonder hours on end just what labeled category I was neatly placed into.

But as I said, these disorders are so far from a simple label. I don’t know about everyone else, but my symptoms can switch like the seasons. I restrict, work out til I pass out or my muscles get deprived of oxygen that I have no choice but to stop. I eat more, but make sure to take laxatives until I lost the weight “I must have gained” that day. It’s not black and white, in fact a lot of the time those living with eating disorders live in the grey areas, and yes it can be frustrating as hell.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have symptoms of an eating disorder that control your everyday life, you have an eating disorder. There shouldn’t be this added pressure to fit into a category identified by the DSM-V or professionals diagnosis. Nobody fighting like hell for their lives everyday don’t need that added pressure.

A disorder, mental illness or addiction are just that no matter what they look like.

Comparisons & Competition

**TRIGGER WARNING**

Whoa two posts in one day?! Someone must have course work to do or something that she’s putting off!

So here’s what’s up for tonight: my “schema” as the professionals where I used to go to treatment n therapy call it, is fucking up a lot of shit in my life.

Example #1: Comparisons

I was up at the mall getting an upgrade on my phone, when this woman and her mother walked in. It took one look at the both of them to trigger me, to want so desperately to look like they looked. They were tall, skinny as fuck and I was jealous. I was with my parents when I saw these 2 and in the most sick way I was fascinated by them. I wanted to know how they can get away walking around like that, how they got to look like that. The poor guy at the store probably thought I had A.D.D or some shit because for the life of me I couldn’t stop looking at these people. It’s totally fucked up right? I was talking to my mother today about it, how I was jealous they looked like that and I was forced to “restore” weight. But here’s the most fucked up thing: I didn’t see them as looking sick, I saw them as something I wanted so badly to look like. My mother said they looked like they belonged in a hospital or treatment center, that they didn’t look healthy but they looked really sick.

Example #2: Competition

My dad is on this mindset lately to lose weight. Please don’t get me wrong it’s not a distorted eating disorder thought or something, he needs to shed a few pounds because he is overweight. So for the past week or so he’s been asking me for help and tips on how he could lose a few pounds (triggering as fuck? Yes. Completely moronic on his part? You betcha!!). So I’ve been genuinely trying to help him in the last triggering ways I know how (disclaimer, it’s still triggering to me). Yet I find myself, again like with those two in the phone store, completely jealous of my father and the fact he is allowed to lose weight.

It’s totally fucked up, but even when he’s trying to eat right, I find myself having this sick sense of accomplishment whenever I see he is eating/has eaten more than me. Even when my mom eats normally, it’s so sick that my eating disorder thoughts get all jazzed up that it’s “winning” the eating competition in my house. Like, there’s no fucking competition even going on here! The voices always have to win, and winning in my head is being less. Less weight, less food, less calories consumed.

I really fucking hate having this mentality come wedging its way in my life again.

Fuck. You. Eating Disorder. Thoughts.

The Real World & My Distorted World

**Possible trigger warning**

How does everything come back around to my eating disorder? As far as recovery goes, my mindset lately has been anything but recovery based. It’s frustrating as hell for me that I’ve been having such loud eating disorder thoughts the past month or so (god that’s such a cliche eating disorder treatment thing to say.. I apologize for that), and as the stress of life escalates more and more I find myself “not having time to eat” or simply being way too busy to eat breakfast or even a snack before leaving for class. It’s not too glamorous might I add. But like I said, everything fucking thing is coming back down to my eating disorder and I hate it.

If I do shitty on a test or quiz, I resort to counting calories again or simply not eating. I’ve talked about it in therapy tons and I know the reason I do it is because I know in my heart that without a doubt I am great at my eating disorder. How sad and pathetic is this? Call it a Type A personality, but my perfectionism has always gotten the best of me in life and as I’m fully in my life now it’s reared its head again and it couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time.

As I write this I know of everything I have going for me but when I lay my head down at night or am stuck in my head throughout the day, none of these things seem as promising or even significant as compared to things like my weight, how I look that day or other stupid and exhausting thoughts I have. That’s right, it’s fucking exhausting living in my head.

Even my relationship with my boyfriend is impacted by this stuff. I love spending time with him, but every time he touches me all I can wonder is what he really thinks of my body. My therapist would tell me he’s not even thinking about the things I’m thinking he’s thinking about but that feeling of disgust scares the shit out of me and when we’re together and doing things that couples do, I don’t enjoy any of it because I’m so inside my head. I don’t know if he even realizes that I’m not present and that I’m in some fucked up world where the staple in my stomach comes undone and he can see what I feel I really look like.

I always thought that after I got out of treatment I’d have a better mindset and things wouldn’t be this difficult. I knew that the day I got discharged from treatment that I wouldn’t be fixed, but shit y’all I at least thought I’d be able to manage my recovery in the real world and was strong enough and had enough of those lovely CBT skills that were drilled into my head, to be able to manage life stress without slipping down that slope that only leads to being sick.

Life thou art a heartless wench.

The Talk

Hey guys I hope you’re having a good week so far!

So I’ve been struggling with something lately and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. I know I haven’t posted on here about it, but I’ve been dating this guy for a little over a month now. I gotta say, it’s incredible having a boyfriend who treats you like gold and always tells you you’re beautiful but I somehow feel like I’m lying to him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really into him but there’s a huge part of my life he knows nothing of and that’s my eating disorder. He was there when my Grandma passed away and I loved that about him, but now that we’ve been dating for a bit and the feelings between the two of us are getting stronger I feel as if though I should tell him that I have an eating disorder; I’m just not sure how to go about it.

I don’t know how to tell him that lately every meal has once again been a struggle, that I spent years obsessing over things such as weight, calories and working out. Yes I’m trying to stay in recovery right now, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I want this to work with him, he needs to know about it. We haven’t gone out to dinner yet, it’s something I’ve been avoiding but sooner or later it’s going to happen and I really don’t want that to expose my secret.

So I guess what I’m asking of you all who read this, and have had a similar conversation with a boyfriend or girl friend, is how do I do this? I’m terrified he won’t see me as he sees me now. I don’t even know how to start the conversation out or even what words to use. I’m scared he’ll see me as weak or broken and that he’ll get scared and break up with me.

Please comment on this post with any tips or words of wisdom.

Thanks guys!

Sparks of Hope

Hey guys happy Thursday!

So last night I decided I wanted to try something a little different with some of my writing time. I’ve found it so easy again to let my negative thoughts come out on paper as of late and writing has become more of a “need to do” leisure activity than a “want to do”. I’ve always loved starting my days off with a positive quote and so I decided to try and come up with my own so-called daily inspiration book. I’m thinking that at the start of everyday I will jump on here and post what I have for the day, and maybe even impact others day by sharing what is on my mind in a positive way.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the bad and forget all about the good things in life. Below is the first entry I’ll be posting and I hope you all sincerely enjoy it. Comment below if you wish, I’d love the feedback from you guys!

canstockphoto-spark


“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”

                        – Rachel Naomi Remen

When you have close friendships or relationships in your life that hold meaning to you those people tend to come to you when they’re facing difficult situations. Often times while our friends or family are talking to us, explaining their situation, we are in our own heads trying to come up with a possible solution. I know for me, I have always been the kind of person who had to fix everything. But some situations I’ve learned don’t need that silver lining or words of wisdom; all that needs to be heard by those who come to you is that you heard them.

 

Goal: This week if a close friend or family member confides in you, make a conscious effort to simply listen. Try your best to hear what they are saying, pause before speaking and remove the pressure from yourself of having to fix it.


Doing Recovery Wrong

One of my biggest fears is that of doing recovery wrong. I don’t know why it’s a thing, but I’m terrified of going off my meal plan by eating a food group not on it, because I fear that it’s considered over-eating. Absolutely ridiculous I know. But it’s what I fear most at this point.

I still look at foods as food groups and exchanges for the most part. Before I bite into a meal I find myself examining it to make sure I have my starches, protein, fat, veggies and dairy; so when I’m faced with a meal that either has an unknown amount of said exchanges in it or that is missing one of these but is in abundance of the other, my logical/rational mind doesn’t know how to process it. I feel like I did my meal plan wrong, and that’s not good. I guess it’s part of the being flexible thing I wrote about in my last post, but when I deviate on my meal plan it scares the shit out of me. I’m scared I’ll talk about a challenge meal or a new food I tried to my therapist and she’ll tell me I shouldn’t have had that, that it’s too much to eat.

Really thinking about it now I think it’s why I limit myself to going out to dinner once a week. I’m scared it’s wrong to go out more than 2 times in a single week and that eating out at restaurants that frequently is eating too much. I know this all sounds so absurd, but it’s what I’m struggling with and in fear of right now.