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!

Recognising my edges

So today I was in the library from 10am to 6pm. I’d had a bad night’s sleep but have a Tuesday deadline. I took yesterday off and while I kind of regretted it when I realised how much work I had to do today, I also know that taking one day off a week is necessary for my health. 

I got about halfway through my work, which means I still have a day’s work left, but only tomorrow morning to do it in as I’m covering for someone at work tomorrow afternoon. I had yoga scheduled for 7pm and debated whether I should go or stay and work. I also had date night with my boyfriend afterwards and wondered what the consequences of cancelling that would be (pretty crap I imagine as he we haven’t really had any quality time lately). 

Old me would have stayed in the library, cancelling yoga and date, skipping dinner and staying up till all hours. This would have resulted in me being thrown for the week, starting exhausted and never catching up. I would have seen this as worth it before. Truthfully I would have considered it my only option, not doing this wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

But now, I’m learning to recognise my edges. I’m learning that I’m not invincible and that being able to pull all nighters and skip meals doesn’t make me a better, more dedicated, hardcore student. It means I messed up my time management somewhere along the way (I can pinpoint three different times I procrastinated over the last 2 weeks- sigh) and that I need to find a sensible way to deal with this that still allows me to keep myself together, to sleep and eat. 

So I went to yoga, I set my intention as recgognising my edges and didn’t try to push through. It was a lovely gentle class (it’s restorative yoga so lots of props and blankets and fairy lights and soothing music, perfect for a Sunday evening). I came home and had dinner with my boyfriend. We sorted through our Christmas decorations in preparation for getting our tree next week. I went to bed at 9 and read for a while and now I’m heading to sleep.

The work still needs doing, it hasn’t gone away, but I have renewed myself for facing it tomorrow. The alarm is set for 5am but I will be fed and rested and calm. My edges are not my limitations, they’re just my limits, and staying within my limits means I am a healthier happier person. I’m no longer ashamed of not being able to push through. 

Goodnight all, I hope you’ve managed to be kind to yourself today too.