Day 13 and back to reality

I arrived back home today and it’s been a bit of a come down. It’s only natural after holidays but I have felt it creeping up over the past couple of days. It’s a fine balance between feeling ‘yay I’m going to beat this and I can eat anything I want and feel okay about it’ and ‘oh crap what have I done I’ve totally lost control the past week’ and I feel I’ve crossed it now. I’m feeling huge and wobbly and can’t believe I let go like I did, yet at the same time I’m trying to keep telling myself that one week won’t be the undoing of me, I won’t have gained 2 stone and I will get my fitness back (I haven’t run in more than a week and freaking out about it now).

I have been roughly sticking with structured eating but it has been a little all over the place. That’s only natural with holidays though I guess, this was always going to be a challenge. I think it’s better that I went with the flow rather than being too strict, but I can see I’m not ready for intuitive eating yet. The last two days have been a bit pants, with some purging on Saturday and overeating on Sunday.

I pulled it back though and did well today: breakfast, large lunch, large snack then another large snack. I have four more days where I can stick to routine and then I’m off again on Friday for a wedding which will be another challenge. After that there will be two days left then I will see my counsellor on Tuesday and get weighed. I am DREADING it, but I will do it because a) she’ll make me! and b) I need some proof of what happens when I let go so that I can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Now though I’m going to bed bloated and uncomfortable but will keep telling myself that the memories of the last week will be worth it.

 

 

Day 9 and the pain au chocolat

So today I ate a chocolate croissant. I have not eaten a chocolate croissant for approximately 7 years without purging. They are a binge/unsafe/terrifying concept of a foodstuff. 

But I ate it as my friend ate it. With a good coffee. By the beach. It tasted good. I ate just one and then moved on with my day. I wouldn’t feel brave enough to do it everyday or with other foods yet but I did it today and I will be weighed with my counsellor in a couple of weeks and we can assess if the sky is falling in. 

Small steps that are big steps. I am not a lesser person because I enjoyed it. I don’t care if people reading this think I’m weak or indulgent or fat or anything. I know the people that matter would not think that. I will not measure myself by a chocolate croissant. Neither should you. 

Day 8- a world bigger than ED

Day 8 and spent it walking, cycling, swimming, laughing, eating, and drinking.

The sun shone and we explored somewhere beautiful. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the grey and the tiredness of everyday life, especially when depression, eating disorders and other mental health difficulties are gettin you down. 

But every now and again when you glance up you’ll see that the world is a wonderful place of bright colours and smells and sounds. Eating disorders make the world very small, very focused on tiny numbers such as calories and grams and weights and minutes. But there is a whole wide world out there beyond this. 

I don’t want to live in a small grey world anymore. If eating a ‘normal’ diet lets me be part of the bigger world then so be it. If I have to be a bigger size to live in colour then I think I might be able to deal with that. Surely it’s worth it?

Day 7- experimenting 

Lots of us have thought processes which are not supported by evidence.

“I couldn’t cope if I had to eat that” 

“If I don’t purge now I’ll balloon”

“If I ate one more X a day I’d gain a stone in a month”

And so on and so on. 

It’s not possible to recover without challenging some of these assumptions, and for me as a scientist (of the people kind rather than the chemical kind- think social scientist) the best way to do these is to test them out.

So this week on holidays I am sticking to my structured eating and where sensible I’m eating what other people are eating. Not entirely copying but when they had breakfast I have breakfast. We then had a snack instead of lunch as breakfast was late so I did the same. Then we had dinner and an ice cream (I didn’t go that far but I did taste a spoon!). And it’s another day done with no purging. 

In some ways it feels like so much food, but then I remind myself that my friends ate the same-ish and they are not huge. Plus I swam and walked. My body needs fuel and having a holiday with a little extra fuel will not cause me to gain a zillion pounds and break the scale. I go back and forth on believing whether this is true or not or I can test it and get some actual evidence.

 When I get home I will weigh myself and see what has changed. I might have gained but I am pledging not to freak and I will then be weighed by my counsellor a week later and I can see if it settles. Depending on the outcome I can make an informed decision on how to proceed. 

I have been believing certain things for years and years about food body shape weight etc and at the end of the day I still have an eating disorder which makes me miserable.

It’s time to test out some alternative truths. Has anyone else done this (I think it is common in CBT-E)? Anyone else tempted to try?!

Day 6- A holiday without ED

Hola! I am in Spain! It’s sunny! Hurrah!

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself today. I woke up feeling bad about yesterday but had a stern talking to myself (as in I actually talked to myself in the mirror- sometimes this is necessary!) about not letting yesterday roll into today. 

So today I travelled (a bus, 2 trains, a plane, a bus and another train- I’m a dab hand with the public transport!) and yet still manages structured eating! I got up early to make breakfast snacks and lunch for travelling and then just ate out with my friend. I am stuffed-more full than I’m comfortable with but I have excused myself to go to bed and I will sleep it off.

Another day done. I’m just slowly trying to inch my way to my next counsellor appt in one piece. But for now I’m on holidays, without ED. 

Day 5- and why using behaviours does not make me a failure

Today was 80% successful. I’m working this out as I have opportunity for success with structured eating 5 times a day: at 3 meals and 2 snacks. Today I did fine with 4/5 of those, and just fell at the last hurdle by purging dinner, then having a small and purge. But although I fell, I haven’t failed. I’m going to try explain why…

I could feel the urge to purge come on early today. I had a few things to do today and was on a tight schedule. I knew it was unrealistic but I didn’t want to let anyone down, but then I ended up having to cancel on someone at late notice and that sucks as I hate when people do that to me, and also as there are times when I just cannot be social (say when my mood is just too low) I don’t like to’waste’ these times on something avoidable. So I was a bit stressed I guess, even though my tight schedule involved nice things like a run with a friend etc. I also haven’t purged in 4 days which is magic for me but I could feel it building up. Plus I’m on holidays next week staying with a friend in Spain (woo-hoo!) so I knew I would be trying really hard to not do it there. I know these seem silly reasons but I’m just trying to figure out where the urge came from.

So anyway I ate my healthy dinner, but my boyfriend was out and I had made enough for two (lesson learnt – I’m not ready for that) and after mine I decided to eat more. I did this consciously though- I waited 15 mins while I weighed up pros and cons. I could see the pros were in the minority but I decided to anyway. I then purged and this is shameful to admit but I really did feel so much better afterwards. This lasted for about an hour before I decided to go to the shop to buy something else to eat which I did and had a ‘mini binge’. This second one wasn’t as rational- the switch had definitely flipped and I felt out of control, but I figured I had used behaviours anyway today another time might not have hurt.

Now it’s all done and dusted a few hours later I can reflect on how I feel. Do I wish I hadn’t done it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. That’s where my problem lies- I need to stop seeing it as a pleasurable experience. I feel sick now, my insides are definitely not happy. I spent £3.50 on food I just then threw up- money that could have been spent on coffee with a friend. I felt sneaky doing it while boyfriend was out- I had option of going to meet him but chose not to- I shouldn’t be choosing ED over him. On the other hand I feel a definite sense of emptiness in my stomach which I haven’t had all week, and I feel calmer and ready to enjoy my holiday now. No wonder it’s hard to give it up if I feel it still has a helpful role in my life. 

Usually I would just have switched off my brain and my emotions at this point, but I’m trying to turn it around by taking time to reflect. I’m also going to work extra hard tomorrow to not let this de-rail me. Structured eating is still the aim for tomorrow and I have a plan in place for travelling. 

80% is still pretty good going, so yes I’m disappointed in myself but still have two feet firmly on the path to recovery, this was just one teensy stumble along the way. 

Structured eating day 4

All okay so far but in a bit of a danger zone now as heading home after being out all day while boyfriend is staying out. 

If any other day I would purge as soon as I was in the door. I’d be trying to undo the dinner I ate 3 hours ago. But today is different as I’m trying to be honest and accountable.

Short term purging would make me feel better.  Long term it feeds into a world where I don’t finish my PhD, I can’t have children, my boyfriend despairs at me, I don’t socialise, I miss out. 

I want to purge, but I want a life without an eating disorder more. Action expresses priority, so I am going to try my best to hang on.