Rituals

Something I’ve noticed as part of this most recent slide is some new compulsive rituals. OCD has been something I’ve had since a very young age but wasn’t diagnosed until I started with ED services. Some of it has obviously been very related to my ED e.g. food rituals but the intrusive thoughts have been separate to these and I have some compulsions that are not food related. It’s never really been addressed in therapy as I think the assumption is that is will resolve when ED does. I’m not so certain about this but it doesn’t overly bother me as most of the rituals that had a bigger functional impact have been managed – and I am so relieved about that as they were so annoying (understatement but the best word I can think of to describe how they were for me). The few ‘low-level’ rituals I have left I can cope with so haven’t thought about them too much, however over the last few weeks/ months I’ve noticed an increase in behaviours which are stressing me out. They’re harmless – finger movements and opening and closing things ‘properly’ but they’re starting to impact on things like leaving the house on time, sleeping and..well…looking like a weirdo in public.

I’m fairly certain it’s just another symptom of being in a bad place so I’m hoping as I come out of that they will decrease, and I know I should stop acting on them, but at the same time there’s other things I should prioritise not acting on so I’m not overly worried about addressing them, but yet I know how these things can slide. I’m also due to give a presentation at the end of the week and I’m already getting ‘rules’ about what I have to do, but not sure how I can do them subtly. I’ve also got a doctor appt and every time I think of it I get a rule about closing the door four times – and it’s a new doctor – how am I meant to have a rational conversation if I start my appointment with that?! But equally, how do I squish that thought when the consequence of not doing it is (according to my twisted brain and its intrusive thoughts) much worse? Argh. I’m hoping writing about these things will help me see them for what they are – just thoughts. I’m not quite at the point of writing down the intrusive thoughts but maybe writing about the rituals will help? Who knows! Worth a try!

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Sustainability and my eating disorder

In my non-ED world I am really trying to make an effort with considering the sustainability of the planet. I have successfully avoided single use coffee cups for nearly a year now, I generally avoid single use plastic bottles (the occasional bottle of diet coke sneaks in..,), I shop at a fruit and veg store to avoid plastic at supermarkets, I refill cleaning products at a zero waste shop and for my sins I have even experimented with menstrual cups (although they’re not quite yet my friend).

When it comes to my ED though I am at odds with these values. A binge is so wasteful, both for the obvious reason of ingesting food just to throw up, but also because of all the packaging, I am definitely not making decisions about what to buy based on reduced packaging, and once the binge is over I have to face the waste around me which just adds to the guilt.

This is relevant for when I’m in restriction mode also: I end up wanting to buy pre packaged ‘safe foods’ and single serve portions as I am afraid of larger sizes. I buy food and then don’t use it so it gets wasted (although I do try to freeze but it’s not always possible).

My ED conflicts with so many of my values; sustainability is just one of them. Unfortunately this just adds to my guilt and shame, which then increases need for ED behaviour to deal with negative feelings (‘cos yeah, haven’t mastered how to do this otherwise) and on goes this dreadful cycle. But there is a way out, I’ve figured it out before, and I just need to channel my concern about waste to make better choices. First step is admitting it – so here it is!

Attempting day one

I can’t quite believe I’m back to the point of needing to focus on one day without purging but somehow here I am. I’m overly full and could easily vomit right now if I went near the bathroom, but I know it is psychological: dinner was a sensible size and I’m only feeling this way as have been purging so much recently. I can ride it out if I try, I just need to distract myself and focus on getting one day down. I’d been managing weeks purge free until this recent slam, it’s so frustrating to find myself back struggling with even a day, but it is what it is and the only way to make it easier is to get to day one and slowly add up from there. I know I have this in me I just need to prioritise it and ride this awful wave.

For those of you also trying to keep head above water these days – you’re not alone in this.

When your eating disorder makes you a crap friend

A friend of mine went through a bad break up last year. Due to stress she lost a fair bit of weight. She then started focusing more on her running due to needing a distraction. As a result she is now teeny tiny and a much faster runner than me.

I am so ashamed to admit this but I am really struggling with it. I can’t help but compare myself and be jealous of her. She is one of the sweetest loveliest people who has done nothing wrong and yet I’m finding it really hard to be around her. I want to be thin. I want to be fast. But I know that takes more willpower and dedication than I have right now. And I know for me it means being ill. I’m not sure if she is being healthy with it all, she claims she is but I haven’t spent enough time with her to really know as I am avoiding her.

I feel like it’s lose lose for me – if she is ill then she’s done better at her eating disorder than I have as she is thinner than I have ever been – and if she isn’t ill then she has managed to be thinner than me without needing to have an eating disorder.

I recognise what I’m saying is awful – I am fully aware of it- and I know I am being a terrible terrible friend by avoiding her – but it’s hard to explain how crap I feel around her.

It just strikes to my deepest darkest parts of my soul and the fire of shame that I have spent years with disordered eating and never ever been really really thin. I can read all the quotes and post about different bodies but I just feel like mine failed me, and I failed at anorexia. I feel like I won’t ever be able to move on if I can’t get to that point just one time, but I also don’t think it’s possible for me.

If it’s that hard for me to lose weight then I can’t have anorexia, my ‘voice’ just mustn’t be strong enough and maybe I’ve just been pretending all this time. Maybe I’m just an example of years of failed dieting rather than restriction and recovery.

All I know is I just hate my body right now and hate how crap a friend I am being all because of the size of a waist and the speed of a mile.

What I think about when people talk about calories

Two people separately today talked to me about calories. It wasn’t the usual ‘oh no so many calories in that we better not eat it conversations’, they were both conversations about how it’s best not to focus on calories and how it’s a shame people do and how it’s easy to get caught up in it. They were kind of conversations about how some people can obsess too much and complaining about how calorie labelling in places can be off putting etc. and that we should just be thinking about how all types of food can make us feel good.

So, quite healthy talk about being healthy really. All fine there.

Except all my brain was thinking is that I look healthy enough for you to think it’s acceptable to have a conversation with me about calories and food choices. These aren’t the kind of conversations that people have with people with anorexia. Previously people never would have talked so easily about food with me because I conveyed (through body and attitude) that I was not easy about food.

The fact that they do now think this is okay could be a good thing, maybe I come across as sorted and okay and yeah I can breezily discuss the calories in the snacks provided, but all my brain is thinking is ‘i am no longer thin enough for you not to avoid a food conversation with me’ and man it really sucks. It shouldn’t but it does. Because actually I’m not breezy about the calories, I know exactly how many are it in and how many I can have and where it fits in my allowance and what I’ll be burning off and when and why I’m allowed this and please ED brain just be quiet for one moment….

I moved these conversations on as soon as I could but the thoughts have stuck and I had to try really hard to not let it ruin my day, but amazingly I did manage it.

The ED is still fighting, and I am still learning. Recovery continues.

Feeling betrayed by recovery

Things are pretty cr*p at the moment. My PhD is hard and horrible and my deadline is stretching further away from me as the more I do the more I realise I have to do, and all within the context of me not really knowing what the point of the project is or what exactly it is I’m trying to achieve (aside from getting some semblance of a thesis together so I can get it the hell out of my life). I’m gaining weight and it won’t seem to stop and my body image is rubbish. I’m trying to get back to running but I’m slow and it feels awful and therefore I’m not getting the positive experiences from it as I used to. I don’t have time to see my friends so I feel guilty about that all the time, but really I’m quite happy not having to be around other people and have to pretend to function. I’m tearful a fair chunk of the day and it’s lots of effort to not start crying at inappropriate times.

I feel like I’ve been betrayed by recovery. I thought sorting out the food stuff and gaining the weight would mean I would be better able to manage life and enjoy it. I thought it would help with my mood and stress. I trusted my counsellor that gaining weight and changing behaviours was necessary and a positive step. And yet, here I am just obsessed about food in a different way, still hating my body and feeling more out of control than ever.

I know this is probably a phase and it will pass, but it still sucks while I’m in it. I bought into recovery as being tough but worth it, and it’s really hard when you get to a stage where actually it doesn’t feel worth it. I honestly think things were better when I has the bubble of my eating disorder to protect me, at least I felt I was managing some aspect of my life. I can’t seem to make my counsellor understand how I feel about this, she keeps dismissing it and it is so frustrating, so I have no one to be honest with about this.

Sorry for the negative rant, I just needed to let it out.

Some days I could really do without having an eating disorder

Today is one of those days.

I have taken a a day’s leave to work on my PhD, which I guess actually is point one. If I hadn’t have needed to take a period of leave to pause my PhD while ill a few years ago I would still have PhD funding and not be working full-time while I try finish (PhD students can’t access sick pay- you can imagine how well that works given the high rate of mental health difficulties in postgrad students – insert eye roll emoji here…), which would mean I wasn’t using holiday time intended for resting working on my project of doom.

I had a counselling appointment this morning and obviously while I am incredibly and eternally grateful for being able to access services through the university (one up side of student life I guess), it is an hour out of the small amount of time I have to work.

I then came out of the session feeling exhausted, sad and frustrated. I’m doing so well in lots of ways, I really am firmly on the road to recovery, but I am still using behaviours every now and again and it’s painful to unpick them and figure out what happened and what I could have done differently. And when the words ‘that’s just self-control and I can’t help with that’ get spoken in a conversation about eating too many chocolates, you know I’m going to be left feeling sh*t for the rest of the day and definitely need a post-counselling moment in the bathroom to regroup and make it look like I haven’t been crying before I go into the office.

Then I arrive at the office and I’m faced with my snack. To eat or not to eat? Surely if I need to develop self-control I should be practising not eating, but the rational bit of brain knows that probably wasn’t the intended outcome, and certainly not about carrot sticks. So I eat the damn carrot sticks, and then feel cr*p that 30 mins later I’m already hungry again and it’s nowhere near lunchtime.

So, 5 hours from waking I’m already feeling a but defeated and sad and I haven’t even started on PhD work yet, which is also a guaranteed activity to make me feel awful about myself.

Somedays I could really do without having an eating disorder. I could do without the mental drain that it entails and the effort involved in staying well. I could do with the over thinking and the looped thoughts of food, body, exercise, willpower, weakness, shame. So much shame. Sometimes I just want to feel p*ssed off that I ever got this illness.

But I also know the only way out is through, so I have to keep on going through this to get to the point of not having an eating disorder. So I will keep on keeping on. But sometimes I just need to allow myself a little rant! So here it is!