Things have been tough lately. I’m having a lot of really fucked up issues with my body. This disorder blows, and I’m sure I won’t be the first one to tell you this. I promised I would get a little more into the difficulties of this part of the journey, so here goes:
I have a hard time looking at myself again. I’m seeing visible changes every day. I know deep down that they’re good, I do. However, ladies and gents, ED is a motherfucking ass face that really has no respect for any person and all HE wants is for those of us struggling through this nonsense to feel unimportant…Weak…Anything to make us run back into his arms.
I need to get used to my body in space again, I think that’s part of the reason this is so hard. Like I’ve mentioned, this shit is like going through puberty again. As if sweating all the time, breakouts and mood swings weren’t enough the first time through I get to re-experience all the growing pains that came along with “becoming a woman” for the first time. Sorry to those of you who think that this is too much information, but hey, this is what happens, and I’m not gung ho for censoring this process. On the plus side, I kind of like having tits again, so there.
I hear that this point in recovery is where a lot of people relapse. I can understand that. Once you see the changes begin to happen, the voice starts up again and the ED thoughts get stronger. Eating has become difficult once again. It’s gotten to the point where I need to trick myself, play games with my head again. Mechanical eating is becoming a reality on most days (for those of you who don’t remember, mechanical eating is the process of eating by the clock, rather than by simply listening to the hunger cues in your body). This is something I thought I was past, but it seems that the stress I’m under from A) dealing with the stressors in my life over the past month and B) dealing with my new, developing body has really taken a toll on my energy needed to fight this thing – as in, I don’t really get hungry anymore. As you recall from a post I did a while back (probably sometime in December), I used to have to set a cell phone alarm in order to remind me to eat. It hasn’t gotten to the point, because I’m able to keep an eye on the time, judge that it’s probably a meal time, and eat something. What’s disappointing is that I’m missing out on the hunger cues that I have gotten used to. Hunger used to scare the living berjeezus out of me, but through my recovery I have gotten used to how normal becoming hungry is – and that you’re supposed to eat when this feeling comes over you (and most of all, that it’s OK to eat). My hunger cues being off makes me feel as if I’ve taken a step back, which is silly, I know… But it seems that rational thinking 100% of the time is a little more difficult than one would think.
So, how do I get past these feelings of insecurity, fear, and fatness? Well, First off, I would just like to clarify that you can’t ignore these thoughts. This is all part of a process. If I completely ignore the fear, being uncomfortable, and bottle up the anxiety at all times, there is no way in hell I’ll be able to properly identify with my issues, assess them, and cope.
- Getting away from my scale helps (as I’m reminding myself more and more that a number does NOT define my self-worth, and that gaining weight in my case is a good thing. The number shouldn’t matter anyway... It’s how you feel within your own skin. Easy to say, and I hope I’ll get to that point someday)
- Stop body checking. Some of the areas where I’ve developed “padding” are being confused with monstrous weight gain that will cause me to be miserable and fat and unloved (silly ED). So, I avoid the mirror, throw on a sweater, or some other article of clothing that makes me feel comfortable, and get on with it.
- I recognize my fear, acknowledge it, and do what I can to move on. This might be having a good cry, screaming, punching a pillow, going for a walk, bitching about it in a journal or to a supportive friend/family member, and most importantly, sticking to the routine. By reverting to something that I know is stable and will run more smoothly than giving into the fear and anxiety I can better cope and move on. In a sense I distract myself enough to keep my head. Acknowledge the feelings, but don’t let it overcome you.
- I will give myself verbal affirmations. If ED tells me I’m fat I counter it with “I’m getting strong”, “I deserve health and recovery”, “I own me”, “I will get through this”, “You do NOT control me”.
- I visit Eating Disorder recovery support forums, read inspirational quotes and stories from people who have recovered or are recovering from eating disorders. Seeing these people happy and healthy makes me feel as if I can accomplish this as well. Google them, they exist).
- I focus on the light at the end of the tunnel…that I will have a full, beautiful life (but I need to keep working at it as I still have a ways to go).
- I’ll do things like paint my nails, play music, read, do art, just anything to distract myself. Now that it’s nicer out, I can go for walks. I’m excited for this. I love walking/beachcombing, exploring far off places where I can pretend I’m some sort of explorer or paleontologist looking for dinosaur bones when all of a sudden I uncover a park filled with living replicas of giant monsters and…. OK, I’m getting a little out of hand.
I really enjoy the NEDA Stories of Hope. They are a collection of stories written by people who are overcoming (and have overcome) various eating disorders. They document their experiences and their stories showcase the fact that ED doesn’t discriminate, that he can affect anyone, and that there is hope, there is life after ED. There’s also a toll free helpline number available on this page alongside a live chat and message center. Basically, NEDA is sticking by their mantra of “feeding hope” through providing an online community filled with positive support and hope. It’s pretty freaking awesome. There are other websites I frequent, however, NEDA really takes the cake on this one. Check it out; they are doing things that are full of kick assery.
In other news, I graduate on the 13th. I went shopping a few days ago for a dress to wear. For those of you who know me, you understand how painful a process this is for me (as I’ve pretty much been a tomboy all my life until recently… Though I still hate dresses with every fibre of my being and loathe dressing up. I’d rather contract the bubonic plague than look like a girl all day. I’m not lying). Shopping is also really tough at the moment because of my changing body, my reluctance to buy clothing I plan on growing out of, and because malls are crowded and full of people who I feel are judging me (which is completely ridiculous, but hey, I’m a sick puppy, so I’ll let it slide).
Dress is bought, the mama and I have plans to get manis, pedis, and facials (another feat for me, as I can’t stand anyone touching me), and I am getting pretty stoked about walking across the stage to receive my degree.
A completely related aside: My Marks this semester are awesomesauce. I am graduating with an overall 4.1 GPA. Don’t ask me how I’ve accomplished these marks, I’m unsure myself most days. All I know is that I put everything into my schooling as I did into my recovery. I was rewarded, and given incentive that I can be the best I can be despite my circumstances , so I guess that’s why I did so well. Needless to say, I’m super proud.
Graduating, for me, is another step in my recovery. It is not just walking across the stage to receive an Honors Degree I have worked four years to obtain, but is an affirmation to myself that I am a hard-working, determined motherfucking survivor who can accomplish anything I put my mind to. If it worked for school, it can work for my recovery.
I feel pretty shitty that this year was completely robbed from me. That I wasn’t able to participate in the things that make your graduating year special, but in the end, not being hospitalized, confined to a bed, and near death is worth spending the time at home with a support system that tops all others (in my biased opinion). I’m fucking proud, and excited, and nervous… I’m a lot of things, but I’m taking it as it comes (a trait I seem to have really picked up over the past little while).
I’m happy to report that I’m starting to become way more social. This is a big step for me. Being out in the world is really scary. Past Heather was a very socially active individual who demanded attention in crowds and was always the one to make plans, party, and have a great time. ED took all of that away from me, but I’m starting to get a hold on things once again. I’m absolutely wiped from these past three days especially. My days have been chokerblock full of activities. Shopping, getting flat tires (and being rescued by my super awesome dad. I noticed the flat in the mall parking lot. So, naturally I spent more money while my father was out in the pouring rain fixing my tire. He really is somethin’ else. I offered to help, promise!), coffee dates, going for drives, food and supplement shopping, visiting my cousin on his birthday (this I am super proud of, as attending a party and not freaking out and running away because of the social anxiety that comes with it has been the norm for me for months), going to the gym, yoga, gathering art supplies, reading and hanging out and watching a movie with an old friend. I have plans made for tonight with another old friend, and I also have evening plans for Monday and Tuesday. Like I’ve mentioned before, social situations are especially uncomfortable for me as of late, but as you can see, I’m pushing myself to the fullest extent in order to challenge ED, challenge my fears, and integrate myself into a normal life.
I hope this good streak lasts for a little while. It comes in waves. Things have been busy, but neutral feeling (as in, not too much fear, not too much anxiety, though it’s still present) I’m expecting a storm to come. These days involve the panic attacks that have been bottled up, the depression and the anger. It’s a miserable few days, but I stick to routine, get through it, and wait for the upslope.
Also, I’m trying to figure out how to post a PowerPoint presentation with audio on this blog (in my last post I mentioned that I wanted to include my fat phobia presentation I did for Political Sociology in a post). I’m also combing through a few books to use for a post that’s a little more “academic”. So hang tight. For now, this update will have to hold you over. I also regularly post updates of my progress on my Twitter feed, so feel free to follow the blog and follow me on Twitter (@Heathrawr)! As always, I’m up for suggestions for future blog posts, and I’m always here to answer questions, give what advice I can, or even just bend an ear and listen to your rantings. You’ve all been there for me, thank you for your continued support.
You all fucking rock.