Learning the difference between can’t and won’t

I had a really challenging session with my counsellor a couple of weeks ago. She asked me how my motivation levels are, which she always starts with I guess to gauge where I’m at. I’d had a rough couple of weeks and there had been some discussion of discharge to give me a break as I was struggling mood-wise. At this session though I was ready to keep fighting and told her that I was committed, that I trusted her and I would do what was necessary to make the most of this opportunity with her.

She asked me how often I had been weighing myself. I said, sheepishly, a few times a day. She said that I needed to get rid of the scales or limit that to once a week. I moaned but I can’t” and started to launch into all the reasons why. She stopped me though and said you can it will just be hard so you won’t”. Harsh, but true. There is no real reason why I can’t do that except that it will make me feel anxious and terrified, and the fact is that I can’t recover without going through a period of feeling anxious and terrified.

We then moved onto meal planning and that I need to be following the meal snack meal snack meal structure with no excuses and need to be planning it the night before. Again, I said “I can’t” and gave my reasons why. She interrupted me though, as she has heard all these excuses before and told me “you can, and this is the only way you will recover, so if you’re deciding you won’t then you need to think about the choice you are making”. Again, harsh but true. I’ll say at this point that my counsellor knows her sh*t and she has been very tolerant and understanding, and will offer whatever support I need for recovery, but she is very clear that she won’t collude with my eating disorder as her job is to help me recover. This is exactly the type of person you need by your side in recovery.

She was was right of course, I can meal plan. I can take 30 mins of everyday to sit down and write out my meals for the next day. I can choose going to the supermarket over watching netflix. I can run less so I’m not too exhausted to cook. I can add carbohydrates to each meal. All of this is within my control, but it involves acknowledging that sometimes I just won’t. 

Eating disorders are a b**ch of an illness. It is not fair that I have one and it is not fair that I have to fight through the terror to get better. But it is a fact that I have to go through that terror if I want to come out the other side, and I do want that. I want a life free from ED. So I am learning the difference between can’t and won’t, and being firm but gentle with myself as I do that.

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Oh scales, how I shall miss you

I am currently only be meant to be weighing myself once a week. Well ideally, not outside of counselling appointments at all, but because of the gaps between them (and my inability to wait that long!) we’ve settled on once a week.

Currently I’m weighing myself about 4/5 times a day. I’m not particularly bothered by the number, but it’s this weird curiosity about needing to know. I get that my weight fluctuates, but there’s something reassuring about knowing it at various points of the day. However my counsellor thinks this is just ED making excuses and I need to ignore it. I had managed to reduce it to a few times a week, or even less, over the past year but since I’ve been living on my own it has creeped back up. 

My counsellor is adamant I need to take this step to show that I am committed to the process she is engaging me in. So, after two checks this morning I packaged up my scale and have tucked it away under the stairs. 

I’m now getting into bed and automatically went to step in the scales, only to find them gone. Argh! I’m really bloated and really think I would feel better by checking my weight. I really want to dig them out, but I also want to show I can manage one day without them. I trust my counsellor and maybe if I’m struggling with even one day, just maybe she has a point? 

So the scales and are taking a break until next Tuesday. I’ll miss you scales!’

What would happen?

Today I got asked what I thought would happen if I ate a Nak’d bar everyday? (Nak’d bars are ‘smooshed’ fruit and nut bars). A random question to most people but it was in the context of me potentially expanding my snack choices. I don’t think my friend realised what a profound question she was asking me, but I now want to pass it on. Think of some food item you love and could happily eat everyday – but don’t allow yourself too. What are the reasons? What do you think would happen?

For me and Nak’d bars my first reason is that they are expensive and that I should just make my own. But the fact is I won’t do this, I’d like to, but I won’t. I also like knowing the calories which would be harder homemade (stupid, but true for me). 

If I get past this excuse- which I easily can seeing as I have definitely spent money on other food just the throw it up, the next reason is that I’m afraid if I have them in the house I will binge on them. It’s an expensive binge! Plus, once a food becomes a binge food I then eliminate it from my regular food and have to work hard to introduce it back in. I’m aware a response will probably be that if I ate one everyday then I wouldn’t want to binge on them, but it doesn’t always work like that. I’ve eaten oats for thousands of breakfasts but if I want to binge then I’d go for them, so I am scared to have them in the cupboard. However I don’t have to bulk buy, I could just have a box of 4 at a time. 

So, say if I get past the reasons why I couldn’t eat on everyday, what do I think would happen if I did eat one everyday?

I would feel greedy. I would feel weak for eating something deemed as a ‘treat’ everyday. I would feel that I should show better willpower. I know I’d enjoy them so then would be afraid that I’d want them. And that’s not allowed. It’s not that I think I’m undeserving, I’m just under the impression that I shouldn’t be eating things that I like too much as it shows no self-control. Even if I were told to eat them, there would be a bit of me that feels relieved to be allowed to, and I hate that bit of me, or more accurately, ED hates that bit of me. I’d also be worried that I’d still feel hungry after one as a snack, therefore better to eat none at all, because that want just shows how gluttonous I really am deep down (‘or hungry?’ pipes up my rational brain). 

It’s not that I think I’ll gain weight or go over calories or anything, it’s different to that, which is hard to get people to understand as they’re typically classed as a ‘healthy snack’. It’s not food itself, it’s wanting the food.  This is when eating disorders show their mental illness side, and it’s not about food but it is about food. 

Does this make any sense to anyone?! I’m intrigued if anyone else gets thoughts like this?

Ps: after writing this the crazy demon voice is now suggesting that as I quite like porridge now maybe I need to stop having it for a while and have just fruit instead. I will ignore it, but this is the kind of s**t I have to negotiate in my twisted little brain!

A day to myself

Yesterday was the first day in months that I had no plans. I had to be home to wait for a delivery and it forced me to arrange my day to be at home. 

It was bliss! I woke up early but lay in bed reading. I did some epic spring cleaning- I washed two sets of curtains, I cleaned the grouting in the bathroom tiles, I washed the windows, I sorted out cupboards, I cleaned my cross country shoes, I had washed clothes that had been building up. In between this I had two naps and watched two movies! 

It might sound like a horrible day to others but cleaning really does soothe me, and it was great to get things checked off my to-do list, and to wake up this morning to a sparkling house! 

Eating wise it wasn’t great, despite being relaxed and having a lovely day I purged three times and binged/purged in the evening. Bulimia is back with an avengance but I’m aware of this and prioritising my recovery, I took out my self-help manual and have started the first module again, and wrote out my pros and cons for recovery and am going to food shop today to get me started for the week. 

I’m away again the next two weekends and can already feel the anxiety building up, but this is a lesson that I need more days like this as they really do help. In fact I’m going to schedule some in the diary right now! 

Hope you all had lovely Saturdays too.