I don’t know how to recover

I was due to start some body image work with my counsellor yesterday. I have gained enough weight and kept it stable for long enough that body image work is now an option. for me. I was both terrified and excited. I am feeling horribly uncomfortable in my body right now. I’m trying to ‘deal’ and barely managing it. It’s that pervasive ‘can’t look in the mirror, need to try on a zillion outfits generally ending up in tears in front of the wardrobe, self-harming due to a photo’ kind of feeling. I keep telling myself I’m ‘over-evaluating weight and shape’ but the rational voice isn’t making a dent.

So I went to my appointment and we went through the usual reporting behaviours etc. I admitted I’d purged a few times over the past fortnight since my last appointment. My counsellor responded with ‘it just has to stop’ and that there is no point in doing body image work until the purging is under control. Apparently I can’t work on accepting my body until I stop behaviours.

My counsellor is amazing, so I trust her that this is the way to do things, but man, I am struggling to see the sense in not helping my accept my body due to the behaviours that are occurring because of the fact that I can’t accept my body. It just goes round and around. I understood this with weight gain, there’s no point in learning to accept a body that is only temporary until the weight stabilises. But my behaviours aren’t due to weight. I know binging and purging will only make me gain weight, and I know purging after normal sized food is more likely to end up with me eating more overall.

I understand the behaviours need to go but I honestly do not know how to do this. I said this to her and she seemed to really think I can. I really wanted to believe her but I don’t think she really understands how ingrained the purging and the binge/purging is. If I’m not restricting, I’m purging, and I have been doing this for more than 20 years now. This is the way I live my life. I have never been able to conquer it without resorting to restriction.

She set me the challenge of 4 weeks of no purging. I told her how incredulous this was and she told me that I just have to do it and that I know how and I can do it I just have to follow through. I was sceptical initially but by the end of the session really committed to trying. I want to get rid of this more than anything in the world and I am willing to give it my all.

So today I felt full after lunch and distracted with a walk. I ate crisps that weren’t planned and I distracted with a nap after work. I ate a healthy meal with a friend and observed the feelings of eating more than her. Then she showed me a photo of me from a race that someone had posted online and bam the urge to purge was there. I distracted by sitting down to do some phd. I got stuck with PhD and the urge grew stronger. I repeated and repeated to myself that it was just an urge and that it was not my rational brain (thanks, ‘brain over binge’). I did everything I should have and yet, there I am a while later purging my dinner and crying in the bathroom.

It wasn’t about undoing any calories, it was about trying to survive the feelings about my horrible grotesque body and my stupid brain that is stuck with my phd. It didn’t help, as I still feel bad now, and even worse as I failed to last even a day. I feel pathetic but I’m also really frustrated as I don’t know how to make my counsellor understand that I can’t ‘just stop it’. I honestly do not know how to recover, and I’m so scared that I can’t make anyone else understand this. She is meant to be my ally in all of this but right now I just feel so alone. It’s not about not wanting it enough. I want to be free of this horrible demon so so much, but I genuinely do not know how. I don’t want to the person that can’t even go one day, but in the moment I seem to have no power.

So here I am, failing again and struggling to see how I will ever stop ending up back in this place.

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Sunday morning reflections

Well last night was not fun. I had a change of plans leaving me on my own for the night and after a stressful few weeks it all came out in a horrible binge purge self harm session along with some very messy crying. I just kept thinking that I’ve tried all the options available to me and they haven’t worked and that there is nothing that is going to help me stop feeling so down.

BUT! Now it’s daylight and I’ve slept I have a more rational viewpoint. I’m seeing my counsellor next week after a break of a few months and I have to be honest about how I’m feeling. I imagine she’s going to link it to me coming off my anti-depressants (another post!) which is a fair assumption, but I have to be prepared to explain to her why I chose that. I have to follow through with her advice about other stuff, because I can’t be declaring that it absolutely doesn’t help unless I’m actually doing it. And I should make a review appointment with my doctor because again, I can’t say it doesn’t help when I don’t actually go. Now I’m reflecting on it I am feeling a little sheepish because I am very lucky to have options.

I also have to be consistent in doing the things I do know help. I haven’t been swimming in weeks even though it’s the best form of ‘stopping the world’ for me. I’ve been running but it’s all been tied up in bad body image so while it’s exercise which should help, it’s not been the nice kind. I haven’t had enough sleep all week so I was exhausted yesterday which contributed. I’ve been doing PhD work the last few weekends without a day off, and as much as I want to be able to work like that I can’t. I also haven’t been writing or talking, so all of the nasty thoughts have just been bubbling away in me.

Having written this all down I can see pretty clearly how it all built up to yesterday, feeling pretty stupid for it catching it earlier. But what’s done is done, and I can only learn for next time. And indeed the fact that it has been so long since I’ve had a night like that is a really positive thing.

The dawn always comes. And it’s sunny now and the birds are chirping so I’m going to go out for a walk and start my day well.

Hope you’re all doing okay x

I know there are other options

I wish these other options came with peace

I wish these other options stopped me feeling as I do

I wish these other options didn’t leave me alone in this way

I wish these other options came with solutions

I wish these other options helped. But they don’t. I get that. I really do. I wish I could stop feeling like I feel and still live a fruitful life. I know the only way out is through.

I know tomorrow will be better. I know dawn always comes.

I know I need to hang tight.

Sometimes I wish I felt more than I know

Roll on Sunday morning x