Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's All About Perspective


I’ve always been overwhelmed by all of the contradictions an eating disorder brings on its victim. You’re doing it to be healthy and “fit,” when in reality you’ve never been farther from fit in your life. You’re “strengthening your heart” with all that exercise, when the truth is you could drop dead any second from a heart attack at 20, 19...16, 15 years old. You’re hungry but you’re “full.” You can’t stop thinking about food and yet you’re sick of obsessing over it. You just need to rest but you can’t stop going.


And, perhaps necessarily, recovery is all about shifting perspectives. I can remember the day I “gave up”--the day I started sobbing to my mom that I didn’t want to get on the exercise bike and begged for a babysitter to keep me off it. (And I am forever grateful to my wonderful dad, who stayed home from work that day and who I think understands the most of my family.) That’s exactly what I felt like I was doing: Giving up.

And you know what she said to me? “I’m proud of you for fighting back.”

And I can look at it now in retrospect and see it that way, but at the time I was so consumed by my ED that I felt like I had failed and the world was crumbling at my feet. Perspective shift number one.

Then I moved to North Carolina and for a while I was happy. Happy because my weight stayed exactly the same, with very little variation. I was happiest when it stayed lower. I had a routine of eating and exercise that kept me static, trapped in time...like if you froze your toilet water in the middle of flushing.

Sorry to be so graphic. But I think it’s an apt comparison, because I thought I was so content, when really I was still giving in to filthy ED. And eventually my body decided it wanted to gain weight anyway, thank you very much, and I found myself in an obsessive downward spiral that would have gotten me nowhere. It was in the middle of this despair that I found YourEatopia and MinnieMaud and finally asked myself why I was doing this. Why, if I’m going to gain weight anyway, why am I exercising my little butt off and prolonging it? I’m not really happy. I was tired. My body was tired. But again, those were things I didn’t know until I stopped getting up at 5:30 every morning to go to the fitness center. Change of perspective number two.

And now I’m waiting for number three, because I seem to have hit a block when it comes to really embracing recovery. I’m hitting minimums. I eat around 3,200-3,500 calories per day. But I still “save up” for the night, when I love to break out the ice cream and cookies and peanut butter and all that good stuff. So, in a way, I’m still on a restriction/reactive eating cycle. I’m still nervous to eat more during the day because I’m convinced I’ll still feel the need to eat a ton at night, out of habit. And I know it’s just the ED talking and that if I eat more during the day I very well might not want to perpetually snack at night. And that even if I do, then my body needs it and I have merely entered into the “extreme hunger” phase of recovery. I’m just having trouble embracing the “more-is-better” philosophy when it comes to calories, because ED has beaten it into my brain that you. Cannot. Go. Over.

Part of this mentality stems from the fact that I’m going to the beach on Saturday, and I really want to totally let loose there. So the ED part of my brain says to gain as little weight as possible until then so I can not care while I’m there. And that’s a very slippery slope, because it’s basically the same thought pattern that got me in trouble this time last year, which was that losing a little bit of weight before vacation was OK because I’d gain it all back at the beach. And we all know how that turned out.

So I’m trying not to be so uptight. I started eating a “pre-breakfast” to spread my calories out more, which has been OK. I had a mini-bagel one day; this morning I had a peanut butter sandwich. I still have mental stuff to work on. At this point, though, I just want it to be Saturday! I’m hoping that this vacation can be what I’m waiting for to finally “let go.”

Because that’s really what ED is about: Control. You think you have it until you find out you don’t. That it does. And at that point recovery becomes about taking control by losing control. Just another one of ED’s contradictions.
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