Busy, struggling, but holding on

I’ve been absent on wordpress for a while. I’ve been checking in, and reading, and am so grateful to all of you who write about recovery as you keep me tethered to the world of recovery and remind me of why I need to work towards it.

I’m just busy at the moment with quite a few deadlines. I’m trying to manage the stress, and was doing quite well, but I’ve been fading and lots of old habits have crept in. My behaviours are a bit out of control, and my last blood test (I get them done about every 6 months as at risk for anaemia) showed this so I know I need to address everything and get back on track, but right now I don’t have the capacity to do this. I know I will in the future, but for now I just need to hang on tight, work on getting my life on even keel again and then throw myself back into recovery.

Recovery is full of ups and downs. Just because I’m in a dip now doesn’t mean that I’m stuck here forever- I’ll find my way out again!

Hope you’re all doing okay x

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Food and mood

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, and far too early to boot. Dragged myself outdoors and did a long interval run session. Ate breakfast and then was still hungry so ate all my lunch by noon. Drank diet coke and tea all afternoon, along with fizzy sweets, to keep me going and was horribly grumpy in work and really thrown by a busy day. Came home in a foul mood and cancelled plans to meet a friend this evening.

Then….ate a really decent dinner…and hey presto… 15 minutes later I am in a much better mood. I feel like I’ve just had a 3 hour nap and am now able to go about my evening.

I was hungry. I need to eat when I’m hungry, and properly eat, not artificial sugar kind of eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s more food than I had planned for the day, my body will tell me what it needs. I’ve been back training for the past few weeks now and I think my body has been adjusting to needing more energy to keep it fuelled. Now I just need to work on helping my head adjust to this too.

It’s tricky, because sometimes the answer for me is not food (i.e. when I’m just binging as an emotional activity), but sometimes it is. If hunger isn’t the problem, then food isn’t the answer. But if hunger is the problem then food most definitely is the answer.

Still learning….

A tiring battle

I have been fighting all day to not binge and purge. I started with a healthy breakfast, did some study, went for a lovely long run in the woods, got home had a healthy lunch and had a sit down.

The urge started coming on as soon as my boyfriend texted to say he would be out for the day with his cousins. I was expecting an hour on my own but not any longer. Usually I love having time to myself but I was anxious today for some reason. I really didn’t want to purge. I just wanted to get on with spring clean and not spend day going back and forth between kitchen and bathroom. I especially didn’t want to go to the shop to buy food that I wouldn’t even enjoy (realising that it wasn’t worth it last week has been good for this). I knew that this was within my power but that I would have to ride out the urge to be achieve this.

The moment I knew I would be alone I felt ‘too full’. I argued with myself about that this was in my head, as a moment ago I had been fine. I implemented distractions and started cleaning. I did a good sort out of papers which always makes me feel good, but the whole time I had the voice telling me I should purge. I was at battle with myself, one part of me telling myself to let the feelings wash over me and they will subside, and the other part saying just go purge you must do this.

I lasted two hours and then drank some chocolate milk just so I could be sick. I was crying while making the milk as I felt so beaten. I don’t know how I can explain that I can know what’s right and wrong and yet have no control over how I act. I pulled it back from there so and got on with my day, but then when I realised my boyfriend wouldn’t be back for dinner I ate something just so I could be sick again. I then went to shops to get milk for the morning and managed this fine without buying anything else. When my boyfriend got home then I ate a small supper with him.

In some ways this was a positive day in that I didn’t binge, and that I stayed in the moment and really felt what was going on. I really did try to ‘ride out the waves of the urge’ but it requires so much more than that. I was fighting tooth and nail to not purge, I stopped eating, I distracted, I waited until the fullness had ceased, and then I still got sick. Riding out the urge is a complete understatement of what it takes sometimes in recovery. While on the outside I have had a good day and got what I needed done, for hours and hours of this day I have been fighting a tiring, pointless, repetitive, frustrating battle in my head.

I am so tired of my eating disorder. I’m tired of how bad it makes me feel and I’m tired from fighting it to stop it making me feel so bad. But I know the alternative, not fighting, is exhausting too. So all I can do is keep going. “If you’re going through hell…keep going”.

 

When do you like your body?

As I mentioned in my last post my body image has been pretty pants the last while. I think this is a combination of things:

  • being weight restored and stable for a year now I guess I am finally realising this is my set point, the weight my body wants to be at. The reality of that kind of sucks as it’s not the weight I want to be at. It was easier when I ‘had’ to put on weight (once I got past the initial hell), but now just being at this weight seems harder- does anyone else feel like that?
  • my injury meant I couldn’t exercise for 4 weeks and then could only do gentle swims and walks for a further 6 weeks, which meant I had 2.5 months of not being as active as I would have liked. While amazingly this had no effect on my weight (don’t get me started on how that is possible) I’m now dealing with the consequences with being unfit and much slower than I was running. I know this will come back in time but for me right now unfit=fat.
  • I am now getting my period regularly which while fabulous in terms of fertility and bone health, sends me ED voice a little crazy every month
  • it’s coming into summer and I know there are clothes I’m not going to fit into. I did replace most stuff at the end of last summer but I still have some trousers which I bought at the beginning of last summer which I fear won’t ever zip up on me.

My nurse and I started talking about this at my session on Wednesday. I usually completely avoid the topic of body image as it makes me squirm. The moment we start talking about it I can feel my thighs expand, the flab under my arms start drooping and my stomach poking out for the world to see. I know this is not really happening but it doesn’t stop me awful and it inevitably ends in tears.

After resisting any kind of body image therapy stuff for years I’m starting to recognise that it’s something I need to address, and more so that it’s something I want to deal with.  I don’t want to pass on this body hatred to any future children (the way it was passed to my granny, my aunts, my mum, my cousins, my sister, me). I want to believe all I say about body positivity, and beauty coming from within and healthy at any size. I want to feel as okay about my body as I do about my person (my spirit? my soul? I don’t know what to call it!). In some ways I ooze confidence but bring it back to what I look like and I will be hateful towards myself.

My nurse suggested we start with identifying times when I do feel good about my body.She is pragmatic and realistic that the goal is not to love my body, or to like it all the time, but that I have to be able to live with it in a way that doesn’t result in me wanting to use behaviours against it, so starting with some times where I do feel okay would give us a baseline.  I thought about perhaps at the end of a marathon – but then I’m usually thinking maybe I could have been faster. At the end of a hike – but it only takes a moment in the bathroom for me to be giving out to myself about how I look in the mirror. When dressed up for a night out- there might be a minute where I think I look good, but the wrong light in the bathroom or a quick comparison to someone next to me and this will flitter away.

It struck me as very very sad that I couldn’t find an answer to ‘when do you like your body?’ She asked me what would happen if I stood in front of a mirror for long enough, and I told her honestly that this would result in self-harm. She looked at me to see if I was exaggerating and I just welled with tears and confirmed I had the scars to show this outcome. I told her I can’t ever imagine feeling any other way but this, and she said she can’t make any guarantees but will work with me to see what can change, and that we would start with me learning how to be compassionate to my body as it is right now. This is the body I got, this is the body I was blessed with, I got dealt a good healthy one, I know that. It’s time to change my relationship with my body- I don’t know what this will look like but I can only try. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes- and would love to hear any thoughts you have on ‘when do you like your body?’ (hopefully in a little while I’ll be able to add to this list!).

 

 

 

Body Image

My body image has been terrible this week. It started off as a seedling of anxiety and has steadily grown into an all-pervasive thought that is following me everywhere. There has been tears and frequent body checking and it was about to culminate in self-harm until I thought I would try blogging first to see if I could ride it out. Below I lay out the reasons why I am hating my body right now but once I get past the negativity you should be able to see my rationale voice come out (scroll down if you want to skip ahead to the positivity!).

Here are the reasons the body image bashers have been having a great time:

  • My friend stayed with me last week and said ‘oh you’re mirror makes me look like I have really long legs, I love it” – I smiled and said ‘yeah it’s great isn’t it’ but inside I FREAKED as I clearly have been using a ‘kind’ mirror for the past year of weight gain and now can no longer trust it.
  • Given the fake mirror issues above I took photos of myself in my underwear to see if I could get a true picture of what I look like. It was not pretty. I am ROUND.
  • I have finally been cleared to run following my injury and I was horribly slow when I went out with the slower group last week – I have lost so much fitness. I did a parkrun this week and am 3 mins off my PB despite giving it my all.
  • I am ‘home home’ this weekend and have gone through a load of old photos and across the years have seen my weight go up and down up and down but of thousands of photos I only thought I looked ‘thin enough’ in 3 of them. 3 out of thousands. I knew I had pudgy phases and while I thought I was fat at the time looking back now I didn’t realise how fat I was – I think in some I must have been in the overweight BMI category.
  • I spent Friday with two friends who have had children recently and both of them are thinner than me.
  • I have a tiny rash on my back and every time I scratch it I get a handful of flesh. ‘Back fat’ has always been one of my major concerns, and now every 10 minutes I have  a reminder of it.

Now here are the reasons which suggest to me that body image is just that- an image- and that is my interpretation of my body and whether it’s true or not, it shouldn’t have any bearing on my getting on with my life.

  • My clothes size has not changed
  • My weight has not changed
  • One of my friends who I was comparing myself to showed me a new pair of jeans she bought that were a size above what I wear (of course different shops are different sizes but I have a similar pair of jeans from the same shop so I should trust this mens I am not 2 sizes bigger than her).
  • I know coming back to fitness will take time and I am grateful to just be able to run pain free that whatever pace it is shouldn’t matter.
  • The photos I was looking at are from a variety of wonderful experiences, and of me getting to live in many different places, and have great holidays, and of fun memories- whatever size I am in them does not matter. If in five, ten, twenty years I want to be able to look back and think about more than what I ate that day, or what I looked like, I need to get past this. The weight in those photos is so not the point.
  • I know my mirror is kind, and I know that I have looked in the gym mirrors and work mirrors etc. and felt okay some days and bad some other days, mirrors are how I see myself, not how others see me. I can buy a ‘neutral mirror’ to replace the other one– but if I’m having the same conversation with myself in another few months I need to accept it is ED talking not the mirror.
  • Work and study are going well – this is unrelated to how my body looks.
  • I fully believe that the most beautiful people in the world are the ones that exude a sense of acceptance and confidence from within, and that is what hope to be like- bashing myself up with thoughts like those above contraindicates this.
  • I have my period at this weight (although I hate it) which means I am on the right track for having a baby at some point- which trumps visible ribs and a good side profile any day.

Whoosh – that was a bit of a rant! To sum up, I feel cr*p in my body but my mind is strong enough to know that it is not worth the tears or the hurt. My life is more than my body image.

On that note… I hope you all are doing okay and be kind to yourselves and your bodies x